Sunderland Labour Group has accused the local Conservatives of ‘hypocrisy of the highest order’ after the party called for an increase in the number of police patrolling city streets.

Conservative Councillor George Howe, who represents the city’s Fulwell Ward, has called for a ‘higher police presence in the area’ following a spate of attacks on local businesses.

However, his calls have been met with anger and claims of hypocrisy from Sunderland Labour, after funding cuts from the Conservative-led Government resulted in more than 1,000 front-line police officers being made redundant from Northumbria Police since the ConDem Coalition came to power in 2010.

Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy leader of Sunderland Labour Group and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “Northumbria Police, like most forces across the country, is under significant pressure due to the funding cuts imposed on it by this Conservative-led government.

“The North East has been one of the hardest hit regions by Tory and Lib Dem austerity and the constant increase in crime levels is a direct result of this.  Over the last decade, we’ve seen 1,000 front-line officers cut from Northumbria Police alone, leaving communities, like Fulwell, extremely vulnerable to chance-taking criminals.

“For Councillor George Howe to demand more presence on the streets from the force is hypocrisy of the highest order and is derogatory to the hard work of everyone associated with Northumbria Police, especially given the limited and stretched resources they currently have to work with.”

The latest data released by Northumbria Police shows that in 2018/19, overall crime in the city increased by 3%, with 1,035 more offences than the previous year. The main cause of this was a rise in violent crime, which rose by 8% – equating to 791 more offences – during the period.

Cllr Mordey added: “Not only has Tory austerity led to funding cuts for our local police force but it has also led to reduced funding for youth groups and community initiatives that are designed to help tackle crime at the root cause and prevent future generations from falling into criminal activity.

“As a party, Labour is acutely aware that more must be done to keep our streets safe, but with the current Government policies in place, our hands are tied.  To have local councilors, who actively support the parties championing such policies, is incredibly hypocritical and is an insult to all of the fantastic people employed in the emergency services sector.”

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