Welsh Labour has accused the Conservatives in Wales of being “the party of police cuts” that is “committed to defunding non-devolved areas of spending if they win the election” ahead of the Senedd contest taking place on May 6th.
At a summit today, First Minister Mark Drakeford joined Welsh Labour police and crime commissioner candidates Philippa Thompson and Andy Dunbobbin to reiterate the party’s pledge to increase the number of police community support officers.
Drakeford described the election in May as one “about trust and ambition” as he highlighted that the Conservatives have reduced the number of PCSOs across the UK by 7,000 in the past ten years as well as cutting police officers by over 20,000.
“Trust because of everything we have done together to keep Wales safe,” he said. “And ambition because beyond coronavirus we are determined in Welsh Labour to rebuild our communities so they go on being strong places into the future.
“That’s where our pledge for 600 PCSOs is so important. PCSOs have played such a part during the pandemic. It is our determination to protect the 500 we have funded for the last decade – as the Tories in London cut, cut and cut again – police numbers here in Wales.”
The Welsh Labour and Co-operative Party police and crime commissioner candidate for North Wales Dunbobbin welcomed the commitment from Drakeford, saying: “It’s clear that a vote for Welsh Labour is a vote to make our communities safer.”
He reminded those watching that Boris Johnson promised new police officers, specifically for Deeside, during a visit to the area in the 2019 general election but that those “much-needed officers have failed to materialise”.
Thompson added: “It’s clear what’s on the ballot paper this election: a vote for Welsh Labour who will make our communities safer, or a vote for the Conservative Party that will follow their colleagues in London and abolish the PCSO posts.”
The Welsh Labour and Co-operative Party police and crime commissioner candidate for Dyfed Powys warned that the Conservatives in Wales are “committed to defunding non-devolved areas of spending if they win the election”.
The responsibility for policing in Wales lies with the UK government, but the Welsh Labour administration has committed over recent years to funding 500 community officers to ease the pressure caused by the austerity cuts pursued by Westminster.
At the Senedd campaign launch earlier this month, Drakeford committed to funding 100 additional PCSOs. He added today that increasing the number would let “communities in every part of Wales know they have the support to keep thriving”.
The First Minister also unveiled five other flagship pledges at the election launch event focused on the pandemic recovery and the environment, creating jobs, supporting young people and giving care workers the real living wage.
The launch and Drakeford’s comments today followed his speech to the party’s online ‘Spring Forward’ event in February, in which he argued that the next Labour administration would put the climate crisis “at the heart of everything we do”.
The party also released a party political broadcast earlier this month, in which the Welsh Labour leader declared to the public that his party’s plan for the devolved nation is “bold and ambitious – as it should be”.
Voters in Wales will go to the polls on May 6th to elect their representatives in the devolved parliament. A YouGov poll at the start of March predicted that the party is on course to receive the most vote but lose several seats in the upcoming vote.
The research suggested that the party will secure 33% of the constituency vote and 29% of the list vote. The Tories are projected as coming second, with the backing of 28% and 25% of the electorate in the constituency and list votes respectively.