This is my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 11th August, calling for more resources for the police to help make our communities safe.
“One of the best things about being a newly elected MP is the sheer number of different community groups and events that you’re invited to, and the chance to speak to so many people about the local issues that matter to them.
Of course, there are a huge range of different issues and problems that people raise and that I do my best to tackle. But one concerning issue has begun to crop up more frequently than the others, even since the election, and that is crime.
Relentless cuts to police budgets are pressing our local forces to do ever more with ever less. Figures released by South Yorkshire Police show they have had to cut front-line officer numbers by nearly 18 per cent since 2010. When people think there are fewer police on Barnsley’s streets, they have good reason.
And yet this is at a time when crime appears to be on the rise. In February, there were 2584 crimes committed in Barnsley, a figure that rose by 207 crimes to 2791 in March -; an increase of 8 per cent.
This trend is replicated across the region, with South Yorkshire Police forced to tackle 16,732 crimes in February, but 18,348 in March -; a rise in the crime rate of 9.7 per cent.
Clearly, these cuts are unsustainable, and have placed a real strain on the ability of our local police force to keep us feeling safe and secure.
That’s why the first Question I asked in the House of Commons was to demand the Government gave us an urgent debate on police resources, and I have tabled further written questions revealing the true extent of the problems caused by the Tories’ police cuts.
And it’s why I recently met with South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings to discuss how we can work together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour across Barnsley’s neighbourhoods, towns and villages.
People should be able to feel safe in their community and homes, free from the threat of crime.
A strong presence of officers on our streets is essential to this. So it’s about time the Government gave our local police the resources they desperately need.
The police protect us. We should protect them.”