Austerity is killing young people, says police commissioner

Austerity is killing young people, with cuts in public services linked to increased violent crime in Cheshire, the county’s police and crime commissioner warned.

Commissioner David Keane and Chief Constable Darren Martland outlined their concerns amid falling numbers of police officers in the county since 2010.

Both say that while cuts to police numbers are not wholly responsible for the rise in violent crimes such as knife crime they believe that cuts to all public services are having an adverse impact.

Mr Keane said: “Cheshire Police has lost 135 officers since 2010 and in addition to this other public services across Cheshire, including local authorities, have been subject to harsh spending cuts from central Government.

“We have got to ask ourselves the question – is there a direct link between the effects of austerity and the increase in violent crimes on our streets?

“I believe that austerity is killing young people throughout our communities.

“Unless it is stopped, we will continue to see lives unnecessarily cut short. I want the Government to act now and provide an emergency cash injection for all police forces before more lives are lost.”

The force’s knife crime initiative Operation Abolish targets problem areas, working with partners to try to educate people about law around carrying and buying knives, as well carrying out knife sweeps to clean up local communities.

Mr Martland says that he wants more resources to reduce knife crime.

He said: “Whilst Cheshire has one of the lowest rates of knife crime in the country, we have seen an increase in violent offending.

“Public services throughout Cheshire are working with less resources and this has increased demand on policing. We are now expected to do far more, with far less.

“Police officers are often the first port of call in situations which may not have needed police intervention in the past. This means there are fewer resources to carry out preventative work in schools and communities.

“I would welcome more support from the Government to help us tackle these issues and allow us to provide more education on the dangers of carrying knives and other dangerous weapons.”

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