MP calls for talks on low police numbers

CITY MP Stewart Jackson has called for a meeting with the Minister for Policing following the revelation that Cambridgeshire has one of the lowest rates of constables in the country.

CITY MP Stewart Jackson has called for a meeting with the Minister for Policing following the revelation that Cambridgeshire has one of the lowest rates of constables in the country.Mr Jackson slammed the Home Office after he made the discovery through a recent ministerial answer from Tony McNulty.

The Minister's response revealed that Cambridgeshire had the fourth lowest number of constables per 100,000 head of population of all the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

The figure for Cambridgeshire stands at 149, which compares badly with neighbouring forces, such as Northamptonshire (160), Hertfordshire (169), Bedfordshire (169) and Leicestershire (192).

Meanwhile, the national average is significantly higher again, at 209 per 100,000 people.

Mr Jackson said he wanted to see an increase in funding for Cambridgeshire police in the coming years. The force has a budget of 116 million for 2007/2008.

Mr Jackson said: "The Home Office is clearly under-funding Cambridgeshire Constabulary, and I shall continue to vehemently attack John Reid's department until this situation is satisfactorily rectified.

"This city must not be short-changed when it comes to policing.

"Peterborough is a rapidly growing city, and Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing county in terms of population in England.

"We're falling behind our neighbouring areas in policing numbers.

"Peterborough needs a visible police presence.

"We're now facing a situation where people in the city are worried about burglary and about car crime, and we just don't have the resources to tackle that.

"This is not the fault of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority – the responsibility lies with the Home Office.

"This is why I am seeking a meeting with the Police Minister, Mr McNulty, and the chairman of the Cambridgeshire Police Authority, Michael Williamson.

"We need to find a way of making the Home Office re-examine its funding formula for forces such as Cambridgeshire."

Today, Cambridgeshire Police Authority chairman Michael Williamson said he would welcome a meeting with Mr McNulty.

He said: "We appreciate there is only a finite pot of money.

"However, if the smaller provision always applies to us, and generally speaking it does, then it leads to an imbalance between us, a more rural shire, and those inner city areas. But, at the same time, we experience the same problems as everyone else.

"Increasing funding can be an up-hill struggle, and the more people involved in raising concerns about these anomalies and inequalities, the better.

"It must be noted, however, that in light of our situation, the achievements made by Chief Constable Julie Spence in improving the force's performance are all the more commendable."