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It is blindingly obvious to most people that Government cuts to police budgets have led to rising crime levels, writes Cllr David Ellesmere.

But according to a report by the National Audit Office, ministers are “unaware” of the impact of their cuts.

Perhaps they could have a look at “Police and Crime Plan Performance Progress Report” published by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner last week.

This paints an alarming picture of crime trends in Suffolk.

Virtually across the board, crime rose last year. Violence against the person was up by 11.8%, drug offences by 21.6%, serious sexual offences by 23% and robbery by an astonishing 47.8%.

But despite the big increase in crimes committed the number of cases solved has actually fallen. Only one in five crimes of violence against the person or robbery are solved. For burglary it is around one in ten. For serious sexual offences it is barely one in sixteen.

The report also details how Suffolk police officer and PCSO strength has fallen by 323 over the last four years, even before the recent cuts to PCSOs.

It shouldn’t take a genius to work out what is going on but perhaps Government ministers need it spelling out.

In 2010 the Government under the then Home Secretary Theresa May, took an axe to police budgets.

This led to fewer police, and detection rates started to fall but it took a while for criminals to catch on, so crime rates did not rise immediately.

Because crime rates didn’t rise immediately, Theresa May agreed to further cuts from police budgets.

However, criminals were now realising they could get away with more without being caught and crime started to rise.

The Government belatedly realised it needed to do something and allowed Police and Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by £12 a year. They’ll probably do something similar next year.

But the council tax increases won’t even cover the cuts the Government is imposing.

I was glad to see Sandy Martin putting pressure on the Government over police funding in Parliament last week.

Because, unless Theresa May changes course we will be paying more council tax, for fewer police officers and crime will continue to rise.

Local policing is in crisis but ministers are supposedly unaware

It is blindingly obvious to most people that Government cuts to police budgets have led to rising crime levels, writes Cllr David Ellesmere. But according to a report by the...

Last Wednesday was Back British Farming Day, and I was delighted to join the National Farmers Union’s campaign to buy quality British-farmed food, writes Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin.

That isn’t to say that I believe that all farmers have always got everything right.  In comparison with other countries, most British farms are efficient, most farmers respect and protect the environment, and British produced food is healthy and safe. But there have been a lot of changes for the better in British farming over the past forty years, and there are more changes that I could wish for in the future.

When DDT was banned back in the 1980s there were, no doubt, some farmers who worried that they would never compete on price with food produced in less careful countries.  DDT was killing off wildlife right across the board – not just insects, but the small mammals and birds that ate them, and the larger mammals and birds of prey that ate the small ones.  And it was killing humans too – not just those who worked with the spray, but all of us who ate food with residues of DDT that were accumulating in people’s bodies.

DDT was banned around the world, and everybody now accepts that that was the right thing to do. I am sure that some of the chemicals and farming practices in use today will eventually be banned – for instance, outdoor pig farms such as Jimmy’s Farm show that pigs can be free-range.  But to achieve progress, British farmers need to know that they won’t see cheap imports, from countries which do not have such strong animal welfare or environmental protection regulations, undercutting their prices and putting them out of business.

I welcome the emphasis on welfare and the environment in the Government’s Agriculture Bill, but there is no point in making our agriculture environmentally friendly if we then buy our food from other countries.  So I am worried that Gove’s Bill doesn’t show how British farmers will continue to provide food – which is after all what they are there for.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned against a “no deal” Brexit. Work done by Europe –  what we pay our EU subs for – will now have to be done by our government.  The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently spending £320 million setting up the new bureaucracy needed for Brexit, building new IT systems, recruiting over 1,300 new staff, and designing new systems for agriculture once we leave Europe. 

Despite this, the NAO does not believe that Defra will be ready, if we crash out of Europe without a deal. We export £7.6 billion of animal products, which must be accompanied by an export health certificate. If we don’t get an EU deal which covers this, Defra will need to negotiate with 154 countries to introduce 1,400 different UK versions of EU health certificates.  

Exports to EU countries don’t need vet’s certificates now, but they will do if we leave without a deal. Without enough vets, consignments of food could be left rotting at the border. Defra plans to meet the gap by using non-veterinarians to check records, but it will be touch and go for that to be enough.

And of course, British farmers will lose the financial support of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  Farmers currently get over £3 billion per year in direct EU payments from CAP, with another £1 billion of EU money going to other government

No deal Brexit would threaten Britain's farming industry

Last Wednesday was Back British Farming Day, and I was delighted to join the National Farmers Union’s campaign to buy quality British-farmed food, writes Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin. That isn’t...

As MP for Ipswich I am delighted to take part in the Great East Run in our wonderful town and raise money for Ipswich Housing Action Group which is making a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.

We all know how damaging homelessness can be - not just rough sleeping but sofa-surfing and other "disguised" homelessness as well. 

If you have ever felt the need to help homeless people, how much better to give to a Charity which will actually help them put their lives back together here in Ipswich, rather than just giving cash to people in the street which may be used to buy drink or drugs.

If you care about homelessness, like I do, please consider making a donation now: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/sandysrunforhomeless/

Sandy Martin's 13 mile run for homeless people

As MP for Ipswich I am delighted to take part in the Great East Run in our wonderful town and raise money for Ipswich Housing Action Group which is making...

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