Police numbers are likely to fall by a minimum of 6,000 this year because almost every police force in England and Wales has put a freeze on new recruits, according to research published today by the shadow home secretary, Ed Balls.What happened to getting more bobbies on the beat and controlling our unruly youth?
He said the research showed that 6,000 officers leave the force each year or take early retirement, and would now not be replaced by new recruits.
Policing minister Nick Herbert responded by saying there was no link between police numbers and crime levels. In remarks that startled Labour, he said: "I don't think anyone – and no respected academic – would make a simple link between the increase in police officers and what has happened to crime. There is no such link." (1)
Note that they aren't falling back on the standard defences of "Labour's figures are wrong" or "We'll reduce bureaucracy so police can spend more time policing."
Meanwhile, the Indie commemorates the 10th anniversary of the death of 10 year old Damilola Taylor, stabbed in London. It describes the difficulties faced by the youth so easily demonsied by the Tories:
At the age of seven, Francisco Augusto's life was turned upside down when his friend and football teammate Damilola Taylor was killed. His death was followed by Francisco's parents splitting up and another move to a new school. Together these events filled the little boy with rage he didn't understand and couldn't control. He was excluded from school aged 11 and arrested by police within a year.But ...
He could well have been on a path similar to that of the boys who killed Damilola. But he caught the attention of a local youth worker, Roger Jalil, himself only 22 at the time. Through playing football together, Roger became Francisco's confidant as he tried to make sense of Damilola's death, his worsening relationship with his father, and all the anger he couldn't articulate.I wonder how many youth workers and projects like Adventure Playground and London Youth will be getting cut in the ideologically motivated War on Debt?
Last year Francisco passed 11 GCSEs at grade A to C and hopes to study sociology at university. He hopes to set up his own youth projects and is being mentored by two businessmen after taking an entrepreneurial course with London Youth – all inspired and encouraged by his youth worker. The love and respect between Francisco, 17, and Roger, 27, is uplifting.
"Whenever I remember Damilola, I always see him smiling and playing football," says the teenager. "Even though he was older than me he saw I was having a hard time at school after coming here from Angola, so he took me under his wing and got me playing football. And that's how Roger got me involved, playing football, treating me like his little brother until I started opening up to him.
"If it wasn't for Roger, the Adventure Playground and London Youth, I wouldn't be here now. If people in high society really wanted to stop youth crime then they could, by making sure every young person who needs help has someone like Roger to help them. Every year on the anniversary of Damilola's death I take some time and think about how I can do better the next year, and make his memory last even longer." (2)
1 - "Police recruiting freeze likely to shrink force by 6,000 this year, says Ed Balls," by Patrick Wintour. Published in The Guardian, 21st of November, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/21/police-numbers-to-drop-by-6000)
2 - "Remembering Damilola: The killing goes on, but the fightback is under way," by Andrew Johnson and Nina Lakhani(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/remembering-damilola-the-killing-goes-on-but-the-fightback-is-under-way-2139882.html)