Labour sets out neighbourhood policing guarantee

Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb says more bobbies on the beat will build trust in communities and reduce anti-social behaviour.

And he said it would help develop community relations and lead to “the flow of information” that could disrupt criminal activity and help target serious offenders.

Roger’s comments came as he welcomed proposals by Labour to boost local police patrols if the party wins the next General Election.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper unveiled her party’s “neighbourhood policing guarantee” with a pledge to recruit 13,000 new neighbourhood officers.

In a keynote speech at the Institute for Government think tank, Ms Cooper said Labour would put an extra 13,000 neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs back on the streets, “paid for with £360m delivered from our shared procurement plan”.

Roger said: “It’s pleasing to hear Ms Cooper’s proposals to restore the bobby on the beat and put them at the heart of our community policing plans.

“We’ve long called for a return to more localised policing, which has been decimated in the last 12 years.

“The value of neighbourhood policing in providing reassurance to the public can’t be underestimated and it helps to reduce the anti-social behaviour that disrupts too many people’s lives.

“It will help rebuild trust in the police and can lead to the flow of information that would allow us to target criminal activity and offenders.”

Roger added: “We’ll hold Labour to account on these proposals should they win the next General Election – not least the funding, which has to come from Government.

“But it’s also a chance to look at the funding mechanism for policing which isn’t fit for purpose.

“Currently, forces go from year-to-year, unable to plan ahead and add a precept on people’s council taxes to cover shortfalls, essentially creating a postcode lottery.

“That’s not the way to run a modern, efficient police force. We need the certainty and stability that a long-term pay mechanism would allow,” he added.

Ms Cooper said her plan would see patrols restored back to town centres, and would ensure “communities and residents know who to turn to when things go wrong, with new statutory responsibilities on forces to protect and deliver neighbourhood policing”.

She said: “Drawing on the traditional core of British policing - the bobby on the beat - but modernised for a new age, equipped with new training and technology so they can use data to target hotspots, react quickly and build partnerships to solve problems.”

In what was a deliberate echo of Mr Blair’s 1993 conference speech, as shadow home secretary, Ms Cooper added: “Thirty years ago this year Labour shadow home secretary Tony Blair said our party would be ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’.

“It was right then, it’s right now. It’s what we did then, it’s what we’ll do again.

“Over 13 years the Conservatives have let communities down. Only Labour is the party of law and order now.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has unveiled Labour's neighbourhood policing strategy

The plan for extra neighbourhood police officers would be underpinned by new legislation.

As she answered questions from reporters afterwards, Ms Cooper also detailed how Labour would fund the officers, saying: “The £360 million we have estimated from the savings is actually a very cautious estimate based on a lot of the work that’s been done by procurement experts.

“There’s a whole range of areas where they absolutely could be cutting down on waste and making those savings in practice. And as I said, the Police Foundation's estimate was in fact that the savings will be well over £600 million from these kinds of programmes.”

The Shadow Home Secretary also said in her speech that Labour would “most urgently” introduce new mandatory requirements on vetting, standards, training, and misconduct across the police.

She said: “It means new leadership from a Labour Home Office to set out active strategies in vital areas - including on violence against women and girls, on fraud, on youth violence, on antisocial behaviour.

“And we will work not just with the police and the criminal justice system but with councils, community groups, businesses, the NHS, schools and the voluntary sector.

“And it means reforms right across the criminal justice system, so more criminals can be charged and punished while more victims get justice.”

The Government said Labour’s announcement was “over four months old” and accused the party of being “soft on crime”.

Policing minister Chris Philp said: “Labour's announcement today is over four months old and further evidence of their soft on crime approach - their proposed investment is a tenth of what we are delivering.

“Meanwhile, this Conservative Government is recruiting the most police officers we have ever had, with 20,000 fully funded extra police officers being recruited by April this year, equipped with full powers of arrest.”