I have long believed that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have never really prioritised any real concerns for Wales, other than nominally. Now Plaid believes that crime and justice should be devolved in its entirety to the National Assembly for Wales, and is committed to ensuring that local policing and local democratic control is maintained and enhanced.
While Plaid believes that cutting front-line policing at a time of recession is absurd, the Con Dems have other ideas. The Con Dem Government have different priorities, not just the harsh public sector cuts, which include amongst other things slashing central police funding by 20% in the middle of a recession, this decision is absurdity writ large and entirely devoid of common sense, on a par almost with reducing the size of the UK armed forces while out of European theatre commitments expand.
The Con Dem plan to introduce the unpopular policy of elected police commissioners at a cost of £50million whilst simultaneously overseeing devastating cuts to front-line policing goes well beyond adding insult to injury. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has said that this will mean there will be 12,000 fewer police officers as a result. It has also been estimated that 579 police officers in Wales will now face redundancy.
HMIC (Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary) has said that a cut beyond 12% would “almost certainly reduce police availability”. Despite everything the UK Government has forced through plans which will see responsibility for appointing Police Commissioners given to the Secretary of State for Wales, despite the Welsh Assembly's opposition to the move.
As far as I can seen it appears that what little common sense the Con Dems had has been ditched. Most people will be aware that historically, in times of recession, the crime rates increase. So the Con Dem cuts mean that our communities will come to rely on the police more and more. Despite this fact the UK Government thinks it is acceptable to force a cut of 20% to the policing budget - this is madness.
Our Police forces cannot afford to lose some of their most experienced police officers, who will be the first to go. I wish someone would explain to me (and everyone else) just how exactly the UK Government honestly expects to see a fall in crime rates at the same time as slashing resources and planning to reduce the number of civilian support staff and Police Officers.
The planned introduction of elected Police Commissioners is nothing more than a flawed outdated ideology - and yet the Con Dem Government is providing £50million to force them through, whilst they simultaneously oversee devastating cuts to front-line policing. This whole sorry mess really shows where the Tories and Lib Dems priorities actually really lie, clearly Wales will never be a priority for them, fortunately it is for Plaid.