The local party is demanding a complete reversal of Tory cuts in police staffing numbers over the past seven years and an increase in police pay to tackle the crime wave that is hitting Uttlesford.
Saffron Walden Labour’s statistical survey, based on freedom of information requests and public sources, finds that since 2010 crime in Uttlesford has doubled. Crimes per 1,000 people have risen from 35% of the rate in Harlow district to 70% since 2010. Unless the tide is turned, within five years Uttlesford’s crime rate will be the same as Harlow. Between 2010 and 2017, Essex Police has cut one in six police officers – 567 officers – to 3,000.
The police inform us that across the whole of Uttlesford and Braintree there is a specific allocation of just nine officers: five to local policing teams and four to community policing teams. We have been told there would be an allocation of an additional nine staff for Braintree/Uttlesford, “managed in accordance with operational need.” Based on shift rotation, this means an average of six police officers allocated to an area the size of London and a population the size of Swansea.
Saffron Walden Labour also highlights the real terms cuts in police pay that are adding to demoralisation of the police, who are not allowed to take industrial action, and undermining police staff retention rates. After accounting for inflation, the starting wage for police in Essex fell by £2,306 per annum between 2010 and 2017 – that’s a 10.2% cut. At the same time, housing costs have soared and there are not enough houses for key workers to accommodate them.
Unless the police have a significant pay increase, Essex Police cannot hope to retain them and boost the skills the police need to fight crime.
Labour’s Saffron Walden town spokesperson Simon Trimnell said: “Ram raids are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the effects of Tory cuts on policing in our area. The police are already over-stretched and will now be under pressure to catch these criminals, who are taking advantage of an under-policed affluent area. This will divert resources from other crimes, such as house burglaries.
“No-one is saying crimes would not happen under another government, but Kemi Badenoch should admit that Uttlesford’s lower level of policing due to Tory cuts has coincided with a rise in crime. She should also admit her ‘Report It’ campaign launched last year for a larger slice of resources has failed because cuts have reduced the amount available.
“We want to return to the numbers of police we had before the Tories came to power in 2010. We need to give them a pay rise and decent pensions that reward long service to help keep them in the force, build skills and reduce crime.”