People will know that I had a few run-ins with the police as a flying picket during the Great Miners’ Strike and was arrested twice, but that was over 30 years ago and in extraordinary circumstances.
Policing is now more focused on the community it serves, and we all need to support the police because in the current climate we really need the protection that an efficient force can provide.
However, we are seeing cuts to officer numbers because of massive government cuts. Since 2010 Northumbria’s budget has been slashed by nearly £140m (the Prime Minister started these cuts when she was Home Secretary).
I spent a three-and-a-half-hour shift with Northumbria Police. The officers were doing their best, but at times they are undermanned.
There are many demands on policing and they would like to attend all incidences, but physically can’t. If an officer gets a call to a fight or domestic disturbance, they are not allowed to attend alone. They have to wait for at least one colleague.
It is a terrible position to be in and explains why some of my constituents complain that they call the police and nothing happens for ages.
So who is to blame? The answer is the Tory government, which has cut funding for public services to fund tax cuts for the rich.
In 2010, when Labour left office, Northumbria had 4,187 police officers; this year it was 3,174 – a loss of a quarter of previous levels. The number of PCSOs fell from 438 to 173, and civilian police staff from 2,099 to 1,483. Overall police posts fell from 6,724 to 4,830.
The Police and Crime Commissioner has worked hard to tackle these cuts. Outdated police stations have been relocated to community bases and she has invested every penny saved in policing.
The Labour party has committed to put 10,000 police officers nationally back on the beat. We need to get the current mob out of government to get a fair funding deal for Blyth and across the force area.