Speaking to BBC Wales, former Caerphilly AM Mr Cuthbert said he understood that people did not want to pay more for the police precept, which is collected with council tax. However, if the projected 2% cuts from the Home Office continued, then around 50% of Gwent Police’s budget will have to be paid for locally – compared to around 30% in 2008. He said: “[We] need to see a sustainable police force in Gwent. There has to be minimum standards that we deliver which have to be paid for somehow. “But if the UK government continue with their austerity programme and continue to reduce their central grant to us then we have little choice other than to turn to the local population for that input. “Again, none of this will happen without explanation and consultation.”
Gwent Police reduced its staffing levels by 16% between 2012 and 2015 because of cuts to its budget – the second highest reduction in Wales and England.
Plaid Cymru AM Steffan Lewis, who represents the South Wales East area, argued the issue meant that policing should now be devolved to Wales.
He said: “Gwent’s cut in staffing levels is the second highest of any force in Wales and England and officers are expected to meet the high expectations placed upon them by both government and the public.“We must now demand the devolution of policing to Wales as a matter of urgency before our forces are cut even further. “The nature of policing here and the priority that is placed on community safety here means we must take control over our own destiny in this respect. Westminster will not invest sufficiently in our police forces so we must find the political will to do so ourselves.”
A Home Office Spokesperson said: “The police funding settlement for 2016/17 is a good deal and overall police spending has been protected in real terms. The settlement ensures that no Police and Crime Commissioner is seeing a reduction in their level of funding in cash this year compared to the previous year as long as they increased their local police council tax precept. “It is a matter for PCCs to decide the level of precept to support local policing priorities and protect the public. Every force and PCC owes a duty to the communities they serve to ensure they are deploying their resources in the most effective way they can, and to drive further efficiency savings wherever possible.”