Speaking on the Today programme this morning, former Home Secretary David Blunkett said that it should be possible to preserve police numbers by allowing authorities to “share” resources. Blunkett said:
“I think it’s obvious that you can bring about greater efficiency if you use the personnel you’ve got more effectively.”
However, for Met police chief Sir Ian Blair, also appearing on the Today programme, went further, saying that he was in favour of cuts in both forces and police numbers:
“For years and years now senior police officers have been pressing for radical reform mostly met by silence because of the machismo of having more and more police officers.”
“If you keep a reasonable minimum of fully trained officers you can have an effective presence.”
The Tories have been cagey recently about police numbers, with Cameron warning of cuts in police budgets, but as yet refusing to put a number on the number of front line police jobs to be cut. This seems to be the opening salvo from Labour to reframe the debate – and argue that cutting police budgets need not mean cutting police on the street.