Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, joined Labour’s candidate for Kingswood Jo McCarron and party activists in the heart of the constituency this afternoon.
They were outside the Kings Chase Shopping Centre campaigning against police cuts to the Avon & Somerset Police force.
Jo McCarron said a Kingswood resident and police officer had spoken to her about “dangerously low staffing levels” which had led to “people becoming exhausted, overworked and crucially unable to provide the public with the service they deserve”.
She was also highlighting the threat to Police Community Support Officers in South Gloucestershire. Faced with having to slash £277,000 from its community safety budget recently, the council weighed up several options including axing nine PCSO posts.
As part of cross-party budget negotiations, Labour proposed that none of the options should be pursued in the coming year but has warned that sooner or later, cuts to community safety will come.
Ms Cooper, who is frequently tipped as a future Labour leader, quickly got stuck into the canvassing, handing out leaflets urging Kingswood people to vote Labour to “end the Tory attack on frontline policing”.
Asked whether the streets were actually unsafe as a result of policing cuts, Ms Cooper told The Week In that communities were working as hard as possible to keep the streets safe but many people didn’t feel confident, and not feeling safe has a big impact on people’s lives.
She said Labour would save £130m over five years by abolishing Police & Crime Commissioners and putting the money into frontline policing. The controversial posts were introduced by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012 in a bid to increase accountability in policing and give the public a say in how forces are run.
Ms Cooper said it had been “a costly experiment” and did not have public support as only one in eight people had turned out to vote for them.