UNISON warning over community safety as police numbers drop

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 UNISON, the UK’s largest union, is warning that Government plans to make further drastic cuts to police staff, PCSO’s and officers numbers will have dangerous consequences for community safety. The warning comes in the wake of Home Office data released today showing that the number of police staff, officers and PCSO’s have fallen dramatically, as the number of volunteers has risen by more than 10%.

Hit with cuts totalling £2.4 billion by 2015, forces across the country are expected to carry on shedding jobs. Services are also being sold off to private companies – which the union is warning will only make cuts worse. Private companies, responsible to their shareholders, will have to take profits out of taxpayers’ funds and jobs will be an obvious target for cuts.

HMIC has already warned that three forces may not be able to provide an effective and efficient service in the future – UNISON is warning that this will spread to other forces unless the government takes action to protect police numbers.

Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer for police and justice, said;

“The government is playing a dangerous game with public safety. Relying on volunteers to keep vital police services running as police staff, officers and PCSOs lose their jobs will not keep our communities safe. And with 32,000 jobs set to go by 2015 in forces across England and Wales, this situation will only get worse.

“The cuts run the risk of turning the clock back on falling crime rates, which are down to the goodwill, hard work and dedication of well trained police and staff. The government must ditch the cuts, stop promoting damaging police privatisation, and take action to keep our communities safe.”

The government does have other choices that it could and should be making. Instead of drastic cuts, a pro-growth, anti-austerity alternative would help maintain the vital services that help to keep our communities safe. The Tory-led coalition should tackle the banks, and bonuses, take action on tax avoidance and tax havens. Putting the breaks on public spending cuts would help fuel the growth that our economy so desperately needs.

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