‘Vast and deep’ cuts to police funding were blasted for going too far by Greater Manchester’s newly-voted Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd as he promised to fight further slashes.
Savings of £133million by 2015 have been set out by the government but former Manchester Central MP Lloyd said this amount is too significant and could impact on effective policing, while speaking at his first public visit to an Oldham Home Watch meeting.
He will meet Home Secretary Theresa May and all new PCCs on December 3 and told the Saddleworth Home Watch Group he will battle for every penny to help the borough.
“The cuts have been too vast and too deep in Greater Manchester,” he said.
“There is a strong conversation to be had between Greater Manchester and the central government.
“I have got to say to them that if there are more cuts it has to be somewhere else as policing cuts have gone too far.
“We have more than our share of funding compared to other areas across the country.”
The funding cuts have led to salary and pension reviews for polices forces countrywide, reductions in unit costs, and sharing of the police vehicles and services.
Police officers numbers have also been slashed, with nearly 3,000 of Greater Manchester’s 8,000 uniformed officers and 4,000 civilian staff losing their jobs.
But as Mr Lloyd begins his role alongside GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, he promised to work with community groups like Home Watch in Saddleworth, Oldham, to tackle crime.
“I am a politician by background but this is not a party-political issue – communities across Great Manchester need to be one voice when addressing this,” he said.
“All my experience over the decades tells me that if we are going to put work into policing, then neighbourhood policing is absolutely vital to what we do.
“We have seen huge budget reductions so it’s vital to take responsibility and act as partners to help our areas.”
Mr Lloyd also named antisocial behaviour, drug and alcohol abuse and community issues, such as lighting and parking, as key areas he wants to address.
And while he admitted he cannot attend every meeting of local groups, he insisted their concerns will be central to the actions he takes in the coming months.
“We are on a journey to make us all feel more secure in our homes and neighbourhoods,” he said.
“It is right and proper that I am here to get some understanding about your concerns and take them away and reflect on them as a basis of the work I need to do.
“If I don’t know what you think is going wrong then I am not serving you as a whole community and making Greater Manchester as a whole a place that people want to live in.
“If we build on the trust that does exist, we can build the finest police force in Britain.”
Chief Superintendent Tim Forber, Division commander in Oldham, echoed Mr Lloyd’s intentions to work closely with the community to secure effective policing services.
And while he admitted cuts over the last two years have had a big effect, he said crime rates have fallen by 11 per cent since April in comparison to the same period last year.
He said: “It has been a real challenge for us but here in Manchester and Oldham we are continuing to drive down crime rates and drive up satisfaction, and catch people who cause misery.
“We will not throw the towel in and accept crime will go up – we will look to different ways to progress.
“Policing at its very best is done with the community, not to the community – it’s about people taking some responsibility and some interest in their community.”