Aid goes to foreign police forces as our own suffers swingeing cuts

But government defends foreign aid pledge

Updated: 
Shot of the back of a police officer's jacket with the word police written across the back

The government is under fire for giving cash to fund police services abroad - while our own police force is hit by budget cuts.

According to The Sun, in the last four years Britain's taxpayers have helped fund 23 new police stations in Congo, as well as supplying cash to forces in Bangladesh, Nigeria and Malawi.

Meanwhile, UK police budgets have been cut by 20% since 2011 and 17,000 officers have lost their jobs, with the Labour Party has warning that 30,000 more could be set for the chop under current Home Office plans.

"The authorities need to focus on bobbies on the beat at home, not overseas," comments Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers Alliance.

A government spokesman has defended the figures, commenting: "It is firmly in Britain's interests to support police and legal services in developing countries since it helps tackle the root causes of problems that affect us here, including crime, corruption and extremism."

The report comes as home secretary Theresa May accuses the Police Federation of 'crying wolf' over financial cuts.

"I have to tell you that this kind of scaremongering does nobody any good - it doesn't serve you, it doesn't serve the officers you represent, and it doesn't serve the public," she claimed.

"So please - for your sake and for the thousands of police officers who work so hard every day - this crying wolf has to stop."

Nevertheless, according to Police Federation chairman Steve White, the police force is being stretched to its limit, and the bobby on the beat could disappear altogether if the government goes ahead with its further planned cuts.

Meanwhile, the government has pledged to ring-fence 0.7% of the UK's gross national income (GNI) for international aid spending, honouring a commitment agreed by the United Nations back in 1970. It will mean spending around £12bn of taxpayers' money this year.

Those in favour point to the effect of the aid in increasing the UK's influence in the world, countering terrorism and generating lucrative contracts for British businesses.

In 2011-12, the Department for International Development (DFID) awarded 135 contracts to 58 contractors, worth almost £500 million in total.

However, many criticise the way in which funding is allocated. A report released last week by One, a non-governmental organisation founded by U2 frontman Bono, claimed that the world's poorest nations receive less than a third of development aid.

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