The Politically Speaking column with Paula Sherriff, MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield

CRIME: People are reporting more offences, including burglaries, vehicle crime, theft and criminal damage.
CRIME: People are reporting more offences, including burglaries, vehicle crime, theft and criminal damage.

When the police are cut back – crime rises, and its local people that suffer the most.

In West Yorkshire, Chief Constable Dee Collins has spoken of the importance of the strong bond between police and our towns and villages and last year she voiced concerns about cuts.

She said: “I am extremely concerned by the loss of 1,063 police officers, particularly given that Neighbourhood Policing is our vital bond with our varied communities… our resources will only stretch so far and my concern is just how sustainable this in the long term, without an uplift in funding and resources.”

That’s why under Labour, police numbers were higher than any previous Tory Government, new penalties were introduced to crack down on anti-social behaviour, and neighbourhood policing was properly resourced to keep our communities safe – as a result crime rates were slashed by over a third.

In the years since then, cuts to police services have been unprecedented, the Tories have overseen the collapse of neighbourhood policing, and the erosion of that crucial link between communities and police that is integral to working with communities in the fight against terror and indeed crime in all its forms.

New crime figures released last month showed the highest annual rise in police recorded crime since comparable records began in 2002.

I’ve spoken out in Parliament against these cuts and this month, voted against the latest police cuts which amount to a real terms decrease of more than £100 million. Here in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, the impact of years of reckless funding cuts is being felt.

Reports from local people are of a growing incidence of crime and anti-social behaviour in our area – this covers burglaries, vehicle crime, theft and criminal damage.

While police resources are undoubtedly stretched thin, the best way we can tackle these issues is by police and community working together, so in the coming weeks I’m hosting a public meeting in Dewsbury together with local police to discuss crime in our area.

I’m very grateful to our Neighbourhood Police Inspector Chris Hughes for agreeing to this meeting and hope that this will give local people an insight into the demands on local policing, how crimes are responded to and how we can work together to reduce crime in our towns and villages.

The meeting will be held at 6pm on Thursday 15 March at Longcauseway Church, Dewsbury (the postcode is WF13 1NH).