For all her talk of "safeguarding", funding has gone down in real terms since 2010—the year May was made Home Secretaryby Jay Elwes / June 6, 2017 / Leave a comment
On Monday, Theresa May hit a bump in the road. In a speech delivered in Whitehall, at the Royal United Services Institute, the Prime Minister covered the economy, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s many shortcomings, before—eventually—coming to the issue of security.
“Safeguarding the security of our country takes leadership,” said May to a crowd of applauding party officials. “That is why since 2010, in the face of a growing threat, we have protected the budget for counter-terrorism policing—and increased the resources available to the security and intelligence agencies.”
Faced with the third terrorist attack in Britain in as many months, the PM said she was determined to “make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.”
And when the speech was finished and the applause had died down, May said she would take questions. One issue came up repeatedly—police cuts. Journalists took in in turns to put the same question to May: “since 2010, police numbers have been cut by 20,000. Was that a mistake?
At first, May batted the question away, saying that only she, and not Jeremy Corbyn, had the guts to deal with extremism. But the question kept coming back. As it did so, the PM began to look irritated and somewhat taken aback. A glazed expression fell across her face, her head tilted to one side.
The suggestion that police cuts have gone too far is uncomfortable for May, who was Home Secretary for six years—meaning that the cuts occurred on her watch. The PM’s defence was that her government is committed to “protecting police budgets,” a nice turn of phrase that sounds reassuring, but which, at a second glance, becomes all but meaningless. In the deadening lexicon of Whitehall speak, “protecting” a budget is not the same as “ring-fencing” it.
Put plainly, police budgets have been reduced since 2010. National Audit Office figures show that, since 2010, direct funding to police forces has decreased by 25 per cent in real terms. It is worth noting that the NAO checks all its facts with relevant government departments before publication—so the Home Office would have signed off on that figure.
This means that Theresa May presided over the police service for a period during which police funding was reduced…