Contact us: Got a photo? Text 'SLPICS' to 80360. Got a story? Call the newsdesk: 020 8722 6328
Labour vows to fight police cuts
Labour leader Ed Miliband has launched his party's campaign for Police and Crime Commissioner elections by pledging to fight against plans to slash the number of officers on the streets.
Although Labour opposed the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales, Mr Miliband accepts that elections scheduled for November will be very important for the future of the police service.
Speaking to party activists and local people at a community centre in Quinton, Birmingham, Mr Miliband said: "We didn't seek these police commissioner elections - we thought that if you were spending £125 million most people would want that money spent on the police, not on new elections.
"But if these elections do go ahead - if the Government insists on them going ahead - we, Labour, are determined to make the best of a bad job.
"What we are going to be arguing for in these elections is very, very important. First of all we are going to be saying taking officers off the streets is the wrong thing to do - it's not what our communities want, it's not what the police want."
Confirming that Labour has now selected all its candidates for the elections, Mr Miliband added: "We are going to be arguing that we will protect the independence of the police - our police commissioner candidates are committed to that.
"But also, crucially, we'll be arguing that we want police commissioners who will work with fantastic city councils like Birmingham to say 'Whatever national government is doing, let's join up to cut crime - let's work together against anti-social behaviour'."
Promising a positive campaign from his party, Mr Miliband said the police service seemed to have been fighting against the odds since the coalition Government took office.
The Labour leader claimed: "They have certainly been fighting against the odds in the last couple of years. Fighting against the odds with a Government that hasn't been listening to them - fighting against the odds with a Government that is cutting 16,000 police officers."
Police and Crime Commissioners will be tasked with cutting crime and delivering an effective and efficient police service within their force area. The Home Office says the new role will provide "stronger and more transparent accountability" to the police and make forces answerable to the communities they serve.