Warning of police station desk closure a sign of the Times

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Your story, Town’s cop-shop to lose desk? (Times, May 19) is an early warning on how the massive spending cuts will hit our local police.

The Tory-led Government is slashing police funding by 20 per cent. South Yorkshire Police must save £40m over four years and is having to lose 400 police officers and 700 police staff. Now we hear all front desks at police stations across South Yorkshire are under review.

Under the Labour Government nearly 17,000 more police officers and 16,000 new PCSOs were recruited and crime was down by 43 per cent. I want to see crime and anti-social behaviour continue to fall and for people to feel safe in their communities.

Last year, over 500 people supported my campaign to keep Wath Police Station open to the public. Local front desks are really important, both in giving members of the public confidence and for officers to pick up intelligence.

I want to see neighbourhood policing strengthened, not cut back. I don’t want officers taken off the beat to do jobs previously dealt with by support staff.

But the Government have put police chiefs in an impossible position. And their complacency over the thousands of police officers and staff being lost is shocking.

Across the country the Government is cutting over £2bn from the police, and has decided to take over £1.3bn of that in the first two years. Chief Constables aren’t being given the time to plan to make these savings, so it is inevitable frontline police are hit.

The police cannot be exempt from making savings, but going too far, too fast puts the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour at risk. That’s why the numbers of police officers and PCSOs should be protected and why cutting crime should be a priority, not an afterthought.

John Healey MP