Spending Review 2015: With chancellor George Osborne likely to make sharp cuts to the police budget, does this risk damaging public safety?

by and

The tragic events in Paris have rightly put a spotlight on UK police forces (Source: Getty)

Peter Neyroud, affiliated lecturer and resident scholar at the Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology at Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, says Yes

Increasing the counter-terrorism resources within the defence budget is clearly necessary. Anyone who has watched events in Paris, Brussels and Mali would see the sense in a strong capability to respond to terrorism and enhanced intelligence to prevent it: but not at the price of savage cuts to visible, accountable, local policing.

Property crimes may well be down, but they represent a small part of the police role. Uniform neighbourhood policing is key to prevention and intelligence in countering terrorism.

It builds trust and encourages people to obey the law. Sir Robert Peel established our unique unarmed, civilian model of policing, when he substituted the police for the army on the streets.

The coming cuts will strip our streets of uniformed police. Our freedoms are diminished and our safety is less secure when we reduce the thin blue line that is the public face of our democratic state.

Charlotte Pickles, senior research director of the independent think tank Reform, says No

The police service is one of the success stories of public service reform. Since 2010, police spending is down by around a quarter, but crime is down by almost a third. There are fewer officers, but the best forces make better use of them, targeting them on high crime areas and focusing on threat and risk.

The tragic events in Paris have rightly put a spotlight on UK police forces’ ability to deal with terrorism. The Spending Review will increase resourcing for counter terrorism overall, bolstering preventative capability.

Some police forces will need to increase their response capability alongside this. Even then there remains scope for further savings.

A smaller, more flexible and skilled police workforce is key. Neighbourhood policing can be pared back. There are efficiency gains to be made through streamlining processes and adopting effective technology.

Yes, more investment is needed in certain areas, but other areas must become more productive.