Policing is Improving, but We Need More Officers

This article originally appeared in the Herald Newspaper on 14th August 2019

The new government's pledge of 20,000 more police officers has been widely welcomed, especially at a time when we all know the police are under increasing pressure: at the moment only around one in five of calls to the police are crime related and increasingly officers are dealing with issues, such as mental health problems, which should be dealt with by other agencies.

The new Home Secretary has chaired the National Policing Board that will oversee the increase in numbers.

Locally I am working with our deputy police and crime commissioner Matthew Barber to ensure that we see the benefit of the increase on the streets here.

The increase in officers is intended to go into frontline policing.

Thames Valley Police has worked hard to maintain neighbourhood policing and whilst under pressure has ensured that every local area has a dedicated team of police officers and PCSOs.

In some parts of the country neighbourhood policing has been virtually abandoned by some forces and the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been clear that the public expect to see more police as a clear reassurance and a deterrent to criminals.

I am also supporting Matthew in calling for the Home Office to review the police funding formula.

Thames Valley Police receive far less funding per head of population than many other forces and this is the perfect opportunity to redress the balance and ensure fair funding for everyone.

Thames Valley Police are already recruiting at their fastest rate and numbers are increasing. This will need to be turbo charged in order to deliver the uplift that has been promised.

There are many new types of crime such as online fraud and these need a modern, technology led approach to tackling them, but traditional crimes will remain and there is no substitute to intelligent local policing, putting officers into crime hot spots to prevent crime in the first place.

There have been great successes recently with burglaries falling, incidents of GBH down and a significant increase in the use of Stop and Search powers, yet if things are going to get even better we will need the promised increase in officer numbers and a long term deal in funding.

I will continue to work closely with the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure that we get our fair share of officers on the ground here in the Didcot and Wantage constituency.