‘Morale at all-time low’ says MP

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POLICE morale is lower than ever in the wake of crippling Government cuts, says Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Mr Wright has voiced his concerns about the impact on both officers and the general public of a 20 per cent reduction in Cleveland Police’s funding due to Government cutbacks.

He says he foresees a dire future for town residents, predicting crime will rise as a result of the knock-on effect of people losing jobs or being concerned about their future – meaning the police are needed more than ever.

Mr Wright, who has contributed to a debate on the issue in Parliament, said in his column in the Mail today: “It makes the job of a police officer that bit harder when there is added risk of rising crime and cuts in terms and conditions on an unprecedented scale.

“That is why police officers tell me that morale is lower than in living memory.”

He said concerned officers who contacted him told him they are finding it increasingly difficult to carry out their jobs, which Mr Wright says “is not what the decent people of Hartlepool, and the police officers who serve the town, deserve”.

Cleveland Police Federation chairman Steve Matthews said he shares Mr Wright’s concerns.

He said: “I would whole-heartedly agree with what Mr Wright is saying.

“The police are going through a very traumatic time at the moment and there is lots of uncertainty - officers are genuinely concerned about their families and job security.

“The cuts will have a huge effect on the community.

“The people of Hartlepool are going to see fewer officers on the beat and response times will unfortunately become slower and resilience of the service to deal with complaints will become much reduced. And for the officers a demoralised workforce proves difficult with dealing with problems.”

Cleveland Police needs to save £24m over the next four years and has already accepted that 230 officers will have to go over the next two years.

A survey by the Cleveland Police Federation revealed that 88 per cent of officers think cutting staff numbers will have a detrimental effect on crime levels.

Another 73 per cent believe their workloads have already increased or will increase and 90 per cent say the service will be worse for the changes.

l MP Writes: Page 32