Devon and Cornwall's rising crime rates cited as proof of link with police budget cuts
Labour has blamed Government cuts for rising crime in Devon and Cornwall as MPs voted for reduced police budgets.
Under the budget package approved by Parliament, Whitehall funding to the police will be cut by 1.9% in the coming year.
Home Office Minister and Taunton Deane Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne told Members forces "can and must" take their fair share of the Government's austerity measures. He added: "We have sought to protect the police as far as possible."
But in opposing the cuts, Labour pointed to the increase in crime in Devon and Cornwall.
Latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed for the year up to September 2012, offences in the two counties had risen by 5% to 90,376 – the highest rate of any of the 43 forces in England and Wales. It was one of only two forces nationally to suffer a rise in crime in the 12 months to September, the other being Wiltshire.
It followed a 6 per cent rise in crime in Devon and Cornwall in 2011-12, which was double the rate of any other police force area.
Shadow policing minister David Hanson used the figures in tackling Cornish Lib Dem MP, Dan Rogerson.
Mr Hanson said: "When he stood on his election manifesto for 3,000 extra police officers at the last election, did he think that three years later he would go back to Devon and Cornwall police with a higher crime rate and 415 fewer officers? I do not think so."
Labour also seized on comments by the force's Conservative police and Crime commissioner, Tony Hogg, who has said taking the Government's offer of freezing council tax in exchange for a 1% increase in grant would leave the force facing a "fiscal cliff" in two years' time and an annual shortfall of £1.8 million.
He went on to propose and get the green light for a 2% increase in the police part of the council tax.
The Labour frontbencher added he was a "among a number of police and crime commissioners, not Labour members, and they are all expressing concerns and having to raise money".
The Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel recently approved Mr Hogg's proposal to increase the force's part of the council tax by 2% in order to protect officer numbers.
It means the police precept for an average Band D property will rise by £3.19 to £162.92.
The police grant report – which will see central government cash support cut – was given the go-ahead by MPs by 288 votes to 212, majority 76.