Police Commissioner Kim McGuinness has blasted the Home Office for ‘pulling the plug’ on crucial policing projects that have protected countless vulnerable people and seen direct crime fall in the North East.
Home Office officials have made clear that they will not allow any further bids into the Safer Streets fund for two successful Northumbria Police schemes – one designed to keep women safe in bars and clubs, and another which tackles anti-social behaviour and crime on public transport.
Writing to the Some Secretary Suella Braverman last week, Kim McGuinness has urged for the decision to be reversed to allow effective work to continue across the police force.
The first project that can no longer receive Safer Streets funding is Operation Cloak. This operation sees plain-clothes officers proactively target men who seek to take advantage of women in vulnerable situations in the Night-Time Economy. Other Safer Streets projects that won’t continue to be funded are the likes of Operation Princess, which saw extra police, resource deployed across the transport network to tackle crime and rising ASB. The additional council, security personnel and youth workers that have been deployed across the transport network over the last 12 months to tackle rising ASB will also stop.
The Commissioner recently praised the success of Operation Cloak, which over the last 12 months alone, has delivered more than 700 patrols with 821 policing interventions and 62 arrests. Meanwhile, Operation Princess, seen theft offences fall 78 per cent and public order down by 68 per cent on key sections of the Metro network.
The office has submitted a range of detailed proposals to fight and prevent crime in the region – one will see officers providing high-level surveillance including number plate recognition and CCTV to identify women and children at risk of being abducted, spiked, raped, sexually assaulted, and put in fear of violence so robust action can be taken.
But while the Commissioner is excited at the prospect of rolling out the proposals in place, she said it was a ‘real blow’ to be told that existing projects that are clearly delivering results and keeping people safe have to stop.
Kim McGuinness, said: “It feels like at every turn Government is holding Northumbria Police back – throwing obstacles at policing and quite frankly throwing people into a greater risk of being victims of crime. We’ve been repeatedly denied funding to get recruitment figures back to where we were pre -2010, and now we are being denied funding to continue work that is evidently keeping our region and our people safe.
“We saw this investment reduce crime. The people of the North East have seen what works, they are safer as a result. We should be allowed to invest where there is proven success, based on our local needs. The problem with the Safer Streets Fund is it speaks to a much bigger challenge – the Home Office is intuitionally opposed to devolution. There is too much reliance upon one-off funding announcements in which officials and ministers in Whitehall decide what is best for people living hundreds of miles away. “
View the letter here.