Thames Valley Police, the Conservative-led police authority that covers Milton Keynes, is facing ‘unsustainable’ levels of policing across the city and has only hired two new police officers to cover the city – as knife crime has spiralled.
This month’s Thames Valley Police Community Forum heard that the force’s stale hiring process has resulted in officers from outside of Milton Keynes having to come to the city to work overtime in response to knife and gang-related crime. A situation described at the meeting as “unsustainable,” by police officers present at the public meeting.
Local Labour councillors are calling for the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner to take the issue of knife crime seriously and put more full time police on the beat in Milton Keynes, spend less time focusing on rural crime and move officers from low-crime areas such as Henley-on-Thames and Chipping Norton to MK until more officers are recruited in the city.
Labour have also highlighted how Milton Keynes North MP Ben Everitt promised hundreds of extra police for MK in his 2019 election campaign. He later said that the number was actually for the whole of Thames Valley, but even on this figure the number of new officers employed in the city is below the levels promised.
Councillor Lauren Townsend, Labour Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said:
“We need strong action on crime, however the Conservatives aren’t delivering this. It is clear that current police levels in Milton Keynes are completely unsustainable; officers are working tirelessly to keep people safe, but we need more police on the streets to tackle crime and knife crime effectively.
“The public have been misled; we were promised hundreds more police officers by Conservative MP Ben Everitt at the General Election, when in reality these officers were for the whole of the Thames Valley. And now, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner will be raising police tax by 4.3% to fund his priorities of rural crime and illegal encampments rather than knife crime. It is despicable, and the Conservatives are failing the people of Milton Keynes.”
The announcement comes on the day of the SaferMK partnership meeting, where agencies including MK Council and Thames Valley Police meet to formulate and implement the strategy for tackling local crime and community safety issues.
Councillor Townsend concluded: “MK Labour continues to work to help keep Milton Keynes safe. While we need more police to take strong action on crime, Labour are ensuring we take strong action on the causes of crime. We are investing £250k on youth services in areas such as Fullers Slade and the Lakes Estate, and have introduced a knife-crime prevention scheme. However, we need the Conservatives to get a grip on knife crime and fund more police officers on our streets. I will be raising these concerns at today’s SaferMK meeting, and hope that we can find a workable solution.”