CABINET Minister Chris Grayling believes the government is delivering “more for less” after lasts months announcement that 90 police officer jobs will be cut from the Devon and Cornwall force because of a funding squeeze.
Around 3,100 officers are currently employed by the force and the police and crime commissioner (PCC) Tony Hogg plans to cut the number to 3,010 over the next four years. Since 2011, police officer numbers in the two counties have fallen by about 400.
Conservative Justice Secretary Mr Grayling visited Cornwall yesterday to support his party’s parliamentary candidates in the area ahead of next year’s general election. He also met with police inspector for Newquay Dave Meredith and members of crime-busting group Newquay Safe, visited Truro to speak to magistrates and spoke about community safety at Penwith College in Penzance.
Mr Grayling said crime numbers are falling and therefore believes the cuts are not affecting policing.
“What we’re looking to achieve is a situation where we, across the public sector, preserve front line staff whilst streamlining what takes place behind the scenes,” he said.
“If you look at what the Home Office has done or local forces have done in the last few years, around the country you will not find that the difficulties we are facing on a financial front are affecting policing.
“Crime numbers are falling and the changes that have taken place, have taken place to back office operations and sharing resources between forces, so I think the police are one area where we are genuinely delivering more for less.”
According to a new report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), a fifth of crimes in Cornwall could also be going unrecorded by police.
An inspection of 13 forces – including Devon and Cornwall Police - found 14 rapes were among offences not recorded by officers.
HM chief inspector of constabulary Tom Winsor said the consequences of under-recording of crime may mean victims and the community are failed because crimes are not investigated.
Despite the report Mr Grayling believes the most serious crimes are being treated seriously.
“There is a debate taking placing at the moment about the crime figures and if they reflect everything that has happened, but the truth is if you are a victim of a burglary or violent crime then these are treated seriously,” he said.
“The number of prosecutions and the length of sentences has increased and all the indicators I see, including the British crime survey, which is people’s own experience of crime, are all showing crime levels are coming down.”