Top politicians hit out at police cuts and privatisation plans

MP John Healey and Shaun Wright, vice chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority, have criticised Government cuts after new figures showed a big drop in the number of local police officers free to attend 999 calls.

Figures the MP has released from the House of Commons Library showed that 49 emergency response officers were lost in South Yorkshire in the year after the general election alone.

And police forces across the country have lost 5,200 frontline officers between March 2010 and March 2011.

Mr Healey said: “Our local force is put in an impossible position by this Government’s decision to cut police funding by 20%.

“We recognise savings need to be made, but the government has doubled Labour’s cutbacks on police funding, and made the deepest cuts in the first two years. That’s not an attack on waste, that’s an attack on the police.”

Mr Healey said he is also concerned about creeping privatisation, amid plans for the use of private companies to be piloted by police forces in the West Midlands and Surrey.

Cllr Shaun Wright, one of the Labour candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner, has promised that if elected he will do everything possible to limit the impact of cuts and protect South Yorkshire’s police force from privatisation.

He said: “With the loss of 49 police officers in South Yorkshire teams that respond to 999 calls, the evidence is absolutely clear. This Government has no plan to cut crime, only to cut police officers.

“There is no place for private companies in our police force and it would discourage people from reporting crime.”

A recent poll by UNITE the union, who have endorsed Cllr Wright for the position of commissioner, showed 61 per cent of people said they were less likely to report a crime if they knew a private company was in charge of their personal data.