A couple of Thursdays ago, I spoke at a national libraries conference in Warwick. It was a lively event, with lots of animated discussion and impassioned voices. On the same day, the Home Secretary was addressing a conference. She was heard in absolute silence: no laughter, no applause, no roars of approval nor of dissent. It is a tale of two conferences.
The Home Secretary was appearing at the Police Federation Conference and they made sure she understood just how unhappy police officers are.
In recent weeks she announced deep cuts to the Police budget. £2 billion is to be cut; 12,000 officers are to lose their jobs, with almost another two thousand retiring early. The tough reality is, there will be many fewer Police on our streets.
Domestic violence units are being axed; there will be fewer officers to deal with sexual offences.
Front line Police services will not be protected, but, astoundingly, the Government intend to waste vast amounts of money introducing elected Police Commissioners.
Sadly, that’s not all. Laws on DNA will be changed, making it harder for the Police to catch criminals - an estimated one thousand fewer criminals will be caught each year. CCTV will also have new rules, its effectiveness hampered by red tape.
I admit there would have been cuts, had Labour been elected, but we would have cut less than half of what this Government is proposing. We would have ensured DNA laws continued to work effectively and not placed red tape over CCTV cameras.
The impact of these ‘savings’, plus the cuts to youth services, prevention work and probation services will cost our community much more, in many ways. It’s hurting but not working.