NOBODY should feel unsafe in the area they live, but cuts to policing have resulted in fewer police stations and officers on the beat, the Chair of Hampshire Police Federation has said.
Zoë Wakefield was responding to a Freedom of Information request carried out by the Liberal Democrats that suggested more than 200 police stations and counters have closed in the past seven years.
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: “Too many people feel unsafe on their own streets.”
Zoë (pictured) said the closures were directly due to cuts to police budgets, and these cuts were proving to have consequences.
She explained: “Hampshire is a fairly safe place to live compared to a lot of areas in the country, but there may be areas where people do feel unsafe on their own streets.
“But I think it’s more than just police stations closing. I think it’s the cut to police numbers, because there is less of a visible police presence on the streets. I notice it and think about how frequently I used to see police cars where I live compared to what I do now.
“And I remember when I was in Neighbourhoods in Eastleigh, people would complain to me that they hadn’t seen a police officer or a PCSO in their area, and I had to say to them, ‘We have so few resources, we have to direct our resources to where the problems are, and we don’t have any spare officers to just patrol’.
“So I think the lack of that physical police presence is a consequence of the cuts. Nobody should feel unsafe in the area where they live. People should be able to feel that they can go out and walk about without being in fear.”
Zoë added that having more officers out on the beat had been shown to work in other places.
She said: “In New York, they put a police officer on every corner and it massively reduced crime, it massively increased people’s confidence.
“And I’ve done it throughout my career in small areas that have suffered real problems – we flood the area with police, crime falls. Police presence has a massive impact on reducing crime and making people feel safer.
“This 20,000 uplift, which actually, some forces are struggling to achieve, doesn’t even cover all the officers we’ve lost over the years. The recruitment needs to continue but with forces struggling, changes need to be made, and we need to keep the people that we’re losing.”