Riots: Think again on police cuts, says Ed Miliband


Ed Miliband says police on the streets "make our communities safer and make the public feel safer"

Labour leader Ed Miliband has urged the government to "think again" about police cuts, in the wake of rioting and disorder across English cities.

He told MPs, who gathered after David Cameron recalled Parliament from recess, it had been a "stark reminder" of the need for police on the streets.

Numbers of police on city streets in England were boosted to help restore calm in the past few days.

The government says its proposals will not reduce "visible policing".

Labour says 20% cuts in central government funding over four years, for forces in England and Wales, are taking "huge risks with law and order".

CCTV plans

But Mr Cameron told MPs that, when the local authority precept which also funds police forces was taken into account, "cash reductions" in police budgets amounted to 6% over four years, which was "totally achievable without any reductions in visible policing".

Start Quote

The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer”

End Quote Ed Miliband

He told MPs: "We will still be able to surge as many police officers on to the streets as we have in recent days in London, Wolverhampton and Manchester."

Ministers argue money can be saved by cutting bureaucracy and changing shift patterns.

Mr Cameron faced repeated calls from Labour MPs and Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyn to reverse planned cuts to police funding in the Commons on Thursday.

Mr Miliband told him: "The events of the last few days have been a stark reminder to us all that police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer.

"Given the absolute priority the public attaches to a visible and active police presence, does the prime minister understand why they would think it is not right that he goes ahead with the cuts to police numbers?"

He also pressed the case for CCTV and urged Mr Cameron to make sure civil liberties plans "in no way hinder bringing criminals to justice".

Labour former home secretary Jack Straw also criticised the PM, saying his answers about having visible policing and sufficient prison places "sounds very complacent".

He attacked Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's plans to reduce the number of people in prison - suggesting that "softer sentencing plans" needed to be reversed.

'Frail' argument

But Mr Cameron repeated his argument that the government was cutting police paper work so more officers could get out on the street and told MPs the problems officers had faced in areas like Croydon had not been because of squeezed budgets.

Mr Cameron said: "The problem is that the police weren't on the streets, the problem wasn't about police budgets in four years' time - the problem was about the availability of the police right now.

"There are 32,000 officers in the Met. We needed to get more on to the streets more quickly and more of them to Croydon. It's about now, it's not about the budgets of the future."

On CCTV, he said the government was seeking to "regulate it to make sure it is used properly".

On Wednesday the Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson put himself at odds with government policy when he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If you ask me if I think there is a case for cutting police budgets in light of these events then my answer to that would be no - I think that case was always pretty frail and it has been substantially weakened."

Mr Cameron chaired another meeting of the government's crisis committee, Cobra, ahead of the debate.

The police watchdog, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, said in a report last month that information from police forces in England and Wales suggested the number of police officers would be reduced by 16,200 between March 2010 and March 2015 - and police staff overall would fall by 34,100.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    wait for a while first he will ask from Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora (Terrorist Groups) around him and he will give bloody proposal in order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Police now doing a thankless task while facing cuts to pay, conditions and pensions. Loads looking to leave the service and who can blame them? Just last week Mrs May refused to consider police federation proposals which would have saved as much if not more than Mr Windsors review. Cut our pay and conditions dont expect us to answer our phones when you need to call us out at short notice !!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    clapham, in situations like this arrests are a last resort. Each detainee will require mutliple officers to safely transport, plus a vehicle. The Met ran out of cells, so every prisoner would have taken even time to process. Every arrest takes valuable resources away from the already thin front line. If Cameron says we have enough officers why did 30 out of 43 forces need to send troops to London?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Cameron doesn't see the massively big risk and fault in his decision because it just doesn't affect him. He gets security wherever he goes. He sits there in his house having tea and crumpets whilst the rest of the country is getting more stressed each day because of his selfish decisions. So many police officers have said that they are experiencing reductions, yet he still wants to have 20% cuts!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I am a police offcier, who through my role has been largly unaffected by the events. But I have seen my collegues injured, miss thir family holidays, work 20 hours + and drop everything despite the government attack upon pay and conditions. The front line (people on streets) is being cut and cut-this lead to the trouble. Cameron says the police got it wrong - but he is the one cutting the numbers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    David Cameron goes complaining that there wasn't enough police around when the riots started well all i can say is what will he say when there is a riot next year and there is almost no police at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Milliband can say what he likes, he knows he's never going to have to fulfill the promises he makes. It's also pretty rich considering the mess Labour left behind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    This government has forced many thousands of experienced police officers to retire. My neighbour was one of them. He worked with young offenders, presumably to stop them hanging round the streets stealing things. Now he works at a supermarket.

    This government cut training schemes for the young unemployed at the same time

    What did they think would happen ? PR only goes so far, reality bites

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    On Monday night (8th August) 6,000 police managed to arrest 310 persons. This suggests that only one officer in every 19 managed to arrest anyone. Will someone please explain why? I do hope the police have not gone on strike in retaliation to the proposed budget cuts. I note that the unfortunate Reeves store burnt down in Croydon was only 0.6 of a mile from Croydon fire station.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    If this government had done the right thing and made the super rich pay for an economic crisis they created then we would have no cuts to the police and other times like we have its crass irresponsibility on behalf of government of any colour to make cuts to essential services. Putting up retirement age is also a mistake. This government are motivated by ideology not common sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I personally don’t agree with police cuts but I think Ed just used this case to criticize David Cameron as usual.
    I’ll tell you what. That was a very stressful time for English Government, so they should follow their Labour Welsh colleges with providing de-stress massage and other additional complementary therapies + civil servants of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I am also a Police Officer on the front line, we have been cut in numbers and have less officers per team, 7 less on each team(5 teams) SO WHO IS TELLING THE MR CAMERON THAT WE ARE NOT CUT!!!!! WE ALSO HAD 300+ RIOT TRAINED POLICE WHICH WAS CUT TO 150 LAST YEAR!!!!! The truth needs to come out !!!!!!!!!!!! The public need to know, my family and friends are fully up to date with the real truth. !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    This country has over spent...loads of money has been thrown at the underclass...yes the very rich can more..millionaires, but even if you taxed all of the weathly, those that stay in UK to pay tax wont raise enough money. It all falls back on the middle earners - £20k to £100k pa. Let me have some of my money back please. But we ALL must repay debt too, otherwise the markets will make us Spain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Anybody old enough to remember the Miners Strike? Thousands of police officers were sent from all over the country to police that every week for a year. This episode has only lasted a few days and yet people are panicking like mad. We are all voyeurs nowadays with our wall to wall 24/7 media coverage. We become so consumed with events that we can no longer keep things in perspective.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Mr Cameron fails to realise that expensive computer equipment,CCTV imaging eqpt etc,cannot compensate for 'boots on the ground'. What is needed is a motivated police force,valued by the government,and valued by the communiries they serve.Unfortunately the police are often used by the politicians and the media as excuses and easy print to distract the public from their own shortcomings

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    If the police are going to have their numbers cut will Cameron's security staff be reduced?
    Would he say the same if it was his business and neighbourhood being trashed?
    The police are being cut, the Courts are being cut, the Probation Service is being cut and the prison services are being cut.
    Its only the politicians that aren't facing cuts - and they are the ones to blame.
    They make me sick!

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Do not exempt the police from the general cuts in the budget.What is needed is a general cut in the barristers' salaries and fees.
    They created much of this mess by grabbing authority for the courts and not the ministers and Parliament who must actually provide peace.They overrode the system by asking for plea bargaining.
    This same hesitation happened during the riots at football games.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    In the last decade police numbers have increased by over a third. We also now have 17, 000 PCSOs and many, many functions previously carried out by police officers have been civilianised. What we need to be asking is - why there are so few officers actually on the streets - where on earth are they? Little wonder the govt thinks they can cut the budget and we will see little difference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I can't believe Milliband has the gall to talk about anything after the total mess his lot left the Country in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The Police are only human, with finite numbers they can only be in so many places in any number at one time. If we want to talk about cuts how about Trident? Only reason we have it is to sit on the Security Council. Why not invest that money into communities and the emergencies services. Then it will be spent on making people feel safer rather than making a few political suits feel powerful.


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