Cat Smith MP: Figures show the thin blue line is in danger of breaking

The country goes to the polls tomorrow, May 2
The country goes to the polls tomorrow, May 2

The Fleetwood MP looks at the impact of police budget cuts, and urges voters to make their voices heard in the local elections

Tomorrow, important local elections will be taking place to Wyre Borough Council and I really hope you’ll use this chance to vote in Fleetwood and Over Wyre.

As the shadow minister for voter engagement I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t appeal to you all to please go and vote! Our local councils are massively important – they run schools, libraries, street cleaning, leisure centres, the bins: in fact, many of the services you need, love and maybe despair of.

Councillors are also important. They will be the people you get in touch with if you want to improve local services over the next few years. And they may have a crucial say over whether planned developments take place down your road. Councils also account for a whopping one-quarter of public spending. This equates to billions of pounds. Even divided area-by-area, this is a fortune.

Voting also gives you the right to moan! It might sound flippant, but can you criticise the ‘powers that be’ with any authority if you didn’t do your bit to help choose them?

In case you’re put off by voting, polling stations are not dour or dull. The staff will help with any problems or concerns. The candidate and party you choose are not made public. You can pick anyone you believe will do the best job in representing your interests – and whoever you chose remains secret.

Also the chance to vote doesn’t often happen – so make the most of the opportunity. If you don’t have a polling card, you can vote without it if you’re registered on the electoral roll. Go into the polling station and give your name and address and you’ll be able to vote. To find your polling station go to wheredoivote.co.uk or call 01253 887257.

The polling stations will be open tomorrow from 7am to 10pm.

It’s not the first time I’ve raised concerns over the impact of police budget cuts. The Tories have got rid of 10,000 police officers since 2010. Murder rates are now at a record high, knife crime is rising and yet the proportion of offenders being charged has reached a record low.

The Office for National Statistics said that in the year to December 2018, 732 lives were lost to homicide, compared with 690 the previous year. The figure is the highest number recorded since 2008. Homicide includes murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and infanticide.

Offences involving knives rose six per cent, with police recording 40,829, the highest number the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has on record since 2011. The ONS said all 43 forces had seen increases in violent offences, including an 11 per cent rise in reported rapes, 46 per cent in stalking, 11 per cent for robbery, 12 per cent in fraud and eight per cent for theft.

Once again, these are deeply troubling crime figures under this government. Members of the public and police officers are both increasingly concerned about the growth of serious crime including knife crime. But Ministers are in denial, refusing to accept that their cuts to police forces have had any impact either on crime levels or the ability to apprehend the criminals.

The government is failing in one of its most basic duties, to protect its own citizens. These reckless cuts must end.