Dr Billings Responds to Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ Agenda

Responding to the government’s newly released Levelling Up plan, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings says he welcomes the report, but recognises flaws in the plans for policing.

The white paper includes 12 national levelling up missions that will be given status in law to shift government focus and resources to ‘Britain’s forgotten communities throughout the 2020s’.

Dr Billings said: “I welcome the aspiration of the Levelling Up agenda and the recognition by the government that there are serious gaps between richer and poorer parts of the country which the government has presided over for the past decade.

“The UK now has the biggest regional inequalities of anywhere in Europe. I note that one of the twelve ‘missions’ of the agenda is to see by 2030 reductions in crime, particularly homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crimes.

“I believe this is an important objective because no company or individual will want to locate or invest in parts of the country where there are high levels of crime.

“However, there are two serious flaws in what the government is proposing as far as policing is concerned.

“First, part of the plan is to increase police numbers nationally by 20,000, but this only returns police strength to where it was in 2010, because for the past ten years we have seen a relentless levelling down.

“During this time, as police numbers fell, criminal gangs were able to establish themselves and expand their illicit drug markets and this requires a lot of police resource to tackle.

“Nevertheless, I welcome funding promised for work on drugs. Second, if crime and anti-social behaviour is to be reduced it will need other public services to be properly funded and supported as well, especially local authorities.

“A lot of police time is spent dealing with young people who go missing from private children’s homes or who get into trouble because have nowhere to go in the evenings or weekends or who have poor or no chances of a decent job.

“So I welcome the £50m of funding promised nationally through the Safer Streets Fund to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.”