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Police austerity cuts made Britain's streets less safe: poll

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British police officers (File photo)

Four-fifths of Britons say that the country’s streets are less safe following cuts to police force spending, according to a new survey.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said that damage was caused by sweeping cuts enforced during a near-decade of austerity driven by the Conservatives.

In what seems to be a bad omen for Prime Minister Theresa May, an even greater majority of Tory voters believed that the reductions have had a negative effect, potentially undercutting the Conservatives’ traditional claim to be a party which abides by the law, shows the data from BMG Research.

In their 2017 manifesto, the Conservatives tried to show it was the party of law and order by pledging to “help Britain’s world-leading police forces and prosecutorial services to fight crime.”

According to the survey, conducted for The Independent, seventy-eight percent said the cuts did have a bad effect, while just seven percent had an opposite view, and 15 percent said they did not know.

A report earlier this year found police funding had reduced 19 percent since 2010 when the Conservatives took power.

“While no police force has failed financially, there are signs emerging that forces are finding it harder to deliver an effective service,” read the report from the National Audit Office.

“As with local government, legal requirements prevent commissioners and forces from running deficits. Given this, the department recognizes that any problems caused by funding reductions are likely to manifest themselves in a force being unable to provide an adequate policing service rather than in financial failure," it said.

“For example, the time it took to charge an offence increased from 14 days for the year ending March 2016 to 18 days for the year ending March 2018.”

The new survey’s findings throw down the gauntlet to Home Secretary Sajid Javid who has said he is asking the Treasury for more funding for police.

This comes amid a knife crime epidemic as well as other violent attacks involving acid and corrosive materials in the UK.

Over 100 people have been killed in London alone so far this year as a result of violent crimes which included five stabbings that recently took place over the course of six days.

The Met has acknowledged it is understaffed because of government cuts to its budget, saying the force does not have a sufficient number of officers to see to all emergencies.


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