The Government must wake up to the impact of austerity

Mohammad Yasin MP
Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kempston Pic credit: Chris McAndrew

November: The community is reeling from the recent wave of serious violent crime in our town mainly involving young men.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of those who have lost loved ones. Their grief and trauma are unimaginable.

Knife crime has reached epidemic proportions in London and many other towns and cities in the country, but I don’t think any of us could have imagined it would infect our small town.

Yet reported knife crime in Bedfordshire has doubled in the last 2 years.

The Government must admit their Serious Violence Strategy is not working and come up with an urgent new plan with a focus on community policing.

Despite news stories every day of another young life lost to knife, gun or gang-related crime, the Government still insists that the rise in violent crime has nothing to do with their austerity agenda and cutting police numbers.

A year ago, the chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, warned that he didn’t have enough officers to keep people safe. These words are no longer just a prediction.

The problem is Bedfordshire is funded as a rural force despite having two growing urban centers not far from the capital – so susceptible to county lines crime – an airport and a prison.

I recently pressed the Policing Minister to support our Chief Constable’s recent bid for emergency funding from the Police Special Grant but even if we are given the money it would be a sticking plaster. The force needs long-term, realistic sustainable funding and many more officers to get anywhere near where we need to be for effective law and order.

Violent crime is complex and combating it can’t be done on the cheap. It requires a holistic public health approach which examines and tackles the crime as well as the causes of crime. We need far more resources poured into preventative measures and community youth support services.

The Government must wake up to the impact of austerity because there is a terrible human cost when we make the wrong choices about public spending, and we are seeing the deadly effects of that now.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin MP and published unedited.