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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

256 fewer police officers on Cardiff streets

(exclusive report) by Amy Willis, Cardiff Evening News

A SENIOR member of the South Wales Police Federation has said a lack of funding means there will be 256 fewer police officers on Cardiff streets this year.

The comments were made ahead of a tonight’s Police budget meeting.

Wayne Baker, joint branch board secretary of the South Wales Police Federation, said the jobs would not be replaced even if the 9.8 per cent tax increase is granted in Cardiff Council’s budget fixing meeting on Thursday. Questions have also been raised as to whether the £7 million lost in the Icelandic crash of October last year could be a contributing factor but Mr Baker has said it was more to do with a lack of tax increase in 2002 meaning the force has been losing £15 million pounds every year

Cardiff already has police staffing troubles as extra officers have to be drafted in from non-operational desk-job roles to fill staffing gaps. Mr Baker said this would be an increased strain on other South Wales police departments as more resources are redirected.

“Crime has increased five fold since 1966 but there has only been a 30 per cent increase in staffing since then,” he said.

He also revealed the Police Federation have never been given a minimum staffing level and receive no central government grant for police services.

“If you reduce police officer numbers any more, it may reduce costs in the short term but could have long term consequences,” he said.

“The central government withdrew funding last year and even though Cardiff Assembly Government has assisted, it is still not enough. Cardiff host around 140 events each year which all need to be policed. We have a particularly high demand on resources and the amount is simply not enough.

Councillor Jacqui Gasson, who is on the board of the South Wales Police, said the cuts were only of staff unable to do their job. She did not comment any further.

Councillor Tim Davies, also on the board, said it was a very confusing situation and no one really knows what is going to happen at the moment.

Coun Davies said: “I don’t think that figure is correct but there is definitely a lack of funding from the Welsh Assembly Government.

“There were 147 events in Cardiff last year but we did not get any additional funding.

“There have been discussions about a large transformational change. We were told it would be no more than five per cent. A lot of work done by the warranted officers is to be done by civilians instead.

“It is an unsatisfying situation from my perspective as a member and for the public. Nobody wants an increase in taxes.”

At a public residents’ meeting in Llandaff, Cardiff, last week, one resident revealed he had been told by Fairwater police they could not attend a minor incident immediately as they only had five officers in the West Cardiff area at the time.

The Inspector of Fairwater police has since denied staffing in West Cardiff has ever reached such a low level and said: “There are always at least five neighbourhood officers on top of our response teams across the country.”

A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: “We would reassure the community that we are committed to reducing and detecting crime.”

Jo Moynihan, 20, Maindy Road, Cathays: “I don’t think there is that many police around Cardiff as it is. It won’t affect me directly because I have not had any problems or any reasons to need the police force anyway.”

Jean Sullivan, 45, Sanderling Drive, St Mellons: “We have less police anyway on the beat we can not afford to lose any more. We should have more police rather than less especially where I live in St Mellons. It is quite a rough area.”

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Filed under: Cardiff News, Portfolio

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