Every week people raise with me issues around their experience of policing in Rochdale. So the recent report of the Police Foundation that trust in our police is declining, comes as no surprise.
As Police and Crime Commissioner I warned the government of the impact policing cuts were having and things have got worse since then. Police cuts are obvious. We see their effect in slower response times, in routine police work not being prioritised, in some crimes not being punished. The public grows cynical and police officers themselves feel frustrated.
So it’s a cautious welcome that Prime Minister Johnson is promising to do something about it and we’ll hold him to his word and expect to see back the two thousand police officers we’ve lost under successive Tory regimes.
But there are other cuts which are less obvious unless you’re directly affected.
I’ll take one of many examples. Being a carer can be a very demanding role but one that so many unsung heroes take on willingly. It saves society a fortune but it’s not done for that reason, it’s done out of love but it can be exhausting.
Full-time carers will tell you how important it is to get the occasional break. It let’s people recharge their batteries and recommit to giving the care their loved ones need. And a growing issue is caring for those suffering from dementia as more of us live longer.
Astonishingly nationwide services designed to give a break to these careers have been cut, including those across the North-West. The head of the NHS has said this is “putting real strain on families, carers and hospitals”. He’s right. These cuts are cruel and they are also foolhardy. Over 100,000 dementia sufferers end up going into hospital each year, and not through their fault, taking beds that should be available for others. Unless you are a carer you probably have no idea of the scale of this problem.
The real irony in all this is that whether it’s policing, respite services for carers or other areas, these are things we used to fund. It’s not looking for “new” spending but simply to put back what was cut. In the end it’s a choice about whether we want our society to be, safe, caring and compassionate and I know most people do. We’re trying the alternative and, frankly, it’s not very attractive.