Plaid Cymru has criticised cuts to support staff in Dyfed Powys Police, as a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has rated the force as ‘requiring improvement’.
Figures reveal that there has been a cut of 26% to the support staff workforce, far deeper than the England and Wales average of 19%. The HMIC report concludes that there has been a considerable underspend in the Dyfed Powys Police Force budget. It highlights that "This underspend indicates that there has been some lack of understanding as to the current cost of policing and the phasing of savings".
The party has also highlighted the risk in proposals to change the pay and conditions of Police Community Support Officers, as part of proposed 40% cuts to the Home Office budget, with Ceredigion AM Elin Jones raising the issue in the National Assembly.
Dafydd Llywelyn, the former Principal Crime and Intelligence Analyst for Dyfed Powys who is standing as Plaid Cymru’s candidate for Commissioner in May, criticised the financial management of the force, allowing the underspend while at the same time cutting support services such as CCTV and the dedicated helicopter. He said;
"The current Conservative ideology of cutting budgets is having a detrimental impact on our local Police service and gimmicks such as reducing the council tax precepts earlier this year to save tax payers a few pounds on their annual bills is putting people’s safety at risk.
"Plaid Cymru understands that these functions are vital to supporting front-line policing as well as being important employment opportunities within west Wales. To say that these posts and services cannot be afforded whilst underspending on the budget does not make any logical sense.
"The verdict of the HMIC report is a damning indictment on the three-year tenure of the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, and of cuts to policing from the UK Government."
In the National Assembly, Elin Jones raised the important role that police support services play, in questions to the Minister for Public Services. She highlighted the changes being proposed to the pay and working conditions of Police Community Support Officers.
Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru AM for Ceredigion, said;
"PCSOs and other support staff play a vital role in supporting policing. I’m very concerned at the current proposals from the Westminster Government to restructure pay, which are very unpopular with PCSOs. Already, they’re not highly paid for the important work they do. Any further attacks on their pay and conditions will be bad news for policing in Dyfed Powys and other areas across Britain.
"I asked the Minister to make sure that Westminster is fully aware of the unease felt in our communities at the prospect of cuts to PCSOs' conditions, and to police support staff more generally."