Kerry Barker, Labour’s candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, visited South Gloucestershire this week to discuss councillors’ concerns about the pressures facing those keeping their communities safe.
The visit came a week after Conservative councillors in the district voted down a Labour budget proposal to find £287,000 to retain nine Police Community Support Officers. These posts, which support regular police officers on the front line, will now be lost as a result of the cuts.
Speaking after the visit, the Leader of South Gloucestershire’s Labour councillors, Councillor Pat Rooney, said:
“I was pleased to meet Kerry Barker to discuss our concerns first hand. We share the view that government cuts and Conservative policies throughout Avon and Somerset are detrimental to police effectiveness.
Kerry will know from his own experience working in the criminal justice system that our police service is stretched, and inevitably it is less able to tackle some crime and disorder that victims and local communities would expect. I know that Kerry would prioritise a stronger partnership between the police and the communities they serve as Police and Crime Commissioner.”
Commenting on the cuts to the Police Community Support Officers, Councillor Rooney added:
“Police Community Support Officers are at the frontline of our local force, providing a visible and reassuring presence on the streets and tackling the menace of anti-social behaviour. Last year all three political parties on the Council found the money to keep these nine posts in place for an extra year. Now we have a Conservative majority administration which has chosen to pull the plug on them at its first opportunity.
I am concerned by the removal of such a valued service. Only last week a National Police Inspectorate report on police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy warned that law enforcers are in danger of becoming isolated from communities and that many have less time for vitally important preventative work in communities. The short-sighted decision by local Conservatives to stop funding nine PCSOs makes this more likely in South Gloucestershire.”