Tuesday, 14 September 2010

ALL IN IT TOGETHER? PERHAPS NOT?

While many of us are bracing ourselves for the threatened public sector budget cuts, it appears that even the Old Bill are starting to get a tad twitchy at the prospect. Senior police officers are apparently seeking protection from the worst of the public spending cuts, so that Police forces can deal more effectively with any rise in social and industrial tension.

Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett (the Police Superintendents' Association President) will in a speech the Police Superintendents Annual Conference, in Cheshire this Wednesday, state that there is a need for a "strong and confident" police force in the face of government austerity measures. So much for the idea of us all being in it together! To make things potentially more interesting the Con Dem Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to be in the audience at the conference.

So we have reached the point where the Con Dems are planning to cut Police (both uniformed and civilian support staff) numbers whilst we are dealing with the effects of the recession. So much for being Conservative this is radically new territory, even Mrs Thatcher (in her more lucid moments well before she went mad towards the end of her tenure as PM) never ever considered doing this for one moment.

Far from it, Mr’s T in the early days of her premiership made real efforts to raise Police pay (and to improve conditions) – something which won her a combination of tacit approval, tacit support or tacit indifference from the Police service at the time, which had been neglected under the previous struggling (Old) Labour Government. In the 1970's there had been an erosion of police pay and working conditions. This was certainly not the case under New Labour who raised Police numbers and ensured that they consistently pretty well paid.

So perhaps this is the real financial rubicon - the real indicator about the scale of the price we will all have to pay for a combination of New Labour’s ‘reckless spending’, the ongoing financial legacy of Blair’s wars, bailing out the banks, replacing Trident (which is an essential prop if Britain wants to continue stride the world stage whilst clinging on to the pretension's of being a World power), etc.

David (“Call me Dave”) Cameron's Con Dem Government's is paused on the question of not so much as to cut or not to cut, but more a matter of how deep and how severe the cuts will be? Things must be bad if the Con Dems are seriously talking about reducing Police numbers and cutting back on operational policing and the myriad of police support workers who fulfil a hundred routine (and not so routine) tasks behind the front line? Heaven help the rest of us?

And of course as Policing is not devolved this is a decision that will be made in Westminster which could have a significant impact upon communities the length and breadth of Wales. The Plaid MP's in Westminster will no doubt eloquently make the case for Wales (they always do!) but the massed ranks of Conservatives and their Lib Dem little helpers will no doubt overrule the voices of reason from within the Plaid ranks. The sooner Policing and Home Affairs are devolved to the National Assembly in Wales the better...

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