Political row breaks out over impact of cuts on West Norfolk police services

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News of the rise in Norfolk’s crime rates has sparked a political debate amid claims that cuts in funding and staff numbers are already having an impact on the services delivered to communities.

Labour’s Jo Rust said 17,000 police staff had been made redundant nationally as a result of the reforms.

She said: “Having been out with the police in the run-up to the election, I’ve seen how pushed they were.

“When I’ve been to SNAP meetings we have heard from our communities that, as far as they’re concerned, there are more criminal acts taking place, but we don’t have the personnel to deal with them.

“At times, we only have four officers for North West Norfolk. They can’t possibly deal with everything.”

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett said 83 per cent of the force’s budget was taken up by staff costs.

And he admitted there would inevitably be an impact on services from the reductions in staff.

Meanwhile, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he was “troubled” by the latest figures and said that he, along with the county’s other MPs, would be seeking an early meeting on the issue with Mr Bett and chief constable Simon Bailey.

He added: “I’m getting feedback from people about reductions and it does worry me, too.”

But he claimed any suggestion that the increase was caused by cuts was “simplistic”, because crime rates had fallen nationally, despite funding reductions.

The figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that the overall crime rate in England and Wales was down seven per cent in 2014, compared with the previous year.

He added that the long-term trend of crime in Norfolk remained downward.