Police response


Faiza Shaheen, the Labour Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, responds to Sir Iain Duncan Smith’s article in the last issue about local policing

Since 2010, under successive Conservative governments, we have seen unprecedented real terms cuts in multiple areas of public services. The police system has not escaped this short-sighted and dangerous experiment.

The police force was cut savagely in the 2010s, with some recovery in numbers in the last few years once the damage was becoming clear. The shortfall is still evident, with analysis of Home Office figures finding that overall, there has been a cut of over 10,000 neighbourhood officers and PCSOs from frontline policing since 2010, even after the recent uplift is factored in. Government funding for policing has fallen by 20% since 2010, with London being particularly hard hit. 

The impact is devastating for our sense of safety and the functioning of the police. Nearly 95% of crimes went unsolved by the police between April 2022 and March 2023. Add to this the cuts to the criminal justice system, youth services, mental health services and legal aid and you start to get the picture of the extent of the damage to an ecosystem that is meant to be designed to uphold safety and address criminality.

For Iain Duncan Smith to blame Sadiq Khan for the closure of the police station in Woodford given this context is both misleading and hypocritical. The majority of Sadiq Khan’s policing budget comes from central government, and just like Boris Johnson before him, he has been forced to close police stations across London as a consequence of cuts by the Conservatives. And after holding on to Uxbridge in the recent by-election, the Conservatives see political currency in bashing and blaming Sadiq Khan at every turn to avoid scrutiny of their own record – but the truth is police stations have been closing at the rate of one a week across the country since 2010.

If I am elected as the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, the area I grew up in and live in, I want to bring a different brand of politics. One not about blatant lies and misinformation, but about a focus on the solutions and working with the community to bring positive change for our neighbourhood. Too many of us have faced cars being stolen or homes being broken into. I back Labour’s plan to restore neighbourhood policing with 13,000 new officers and PCSOs. My priority will also be on tackling the root problems by fighting for more youth spaces, like the one that has just been opened at the housing development at the former dog racing stadium after community pressure and funding from Waltham Forest Council. The UK economy is still faltering from the disastrous tenure of Liz Truss – who was Iain Duncan Smith’s favoured candidate for Prime Minister – but with a new government and a new MP, we will finally have the fresh start we so desperately need.

Faiza Shaheen is the Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green. For more information, visit swvg.co.uk/shaheen