New police and crime commissioners will be thrown a "hospital pass" by the Government if funding for crime prevention work continues to be slashed, one of the candidates for the Devon and Cornwall election has said.
Cash handed to local authorities for crime prevention work – including street lights and CCTV – has been cut by almost 60 per cent. Figures show that, in Devon and Cornwall, community safety funding has fallen from £2,063,837 in 2010/11 to £832,892 this year – a drop of more than £1.2 million. Nationally, the budget has been cut from £61 million to £24.6 million over the same period.
The funds, and responsibility for their allocation, will pass to Devon and Cornwall's new police and crime commissioner following the election on November 15. Independent candidate Brian Greenslade described the cuts as a "hospital pass" for the new commissioner who would end up taking the blame.
He said: "Cuts the government is making to crime prevention budgets and the like, plus 16,000 cuts to police officer numbers – 700 in Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly – will be blamed on the new commissioners when they set their first budgets for 2013/14.
"This will mean less money for CCTV, youth projects and a whole host of other preventative measures which have helped to prevent crime in our communities. In reality, having wasted £80 million on the upcoming election, the Home Office is running out of funds for what really matters."
The figures were obtained by the Labour Party, which warned there could be further cuts ahead, with no announcement yet on levels of funding for next year.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, said: "Street lighting, action on gangs, CCTV plans, youth services and community safety projects are all being hit, making it much harder for the police and communities to prevent crime.
"And the Government won't even admit until after the police and crime commissioner budgets what next year's funding will be for crime prevention in future."
A Home Office spokesman said all parts of the public sector had to help reduce the budget deficit. "Economic realities mean savings must be made and we must all do more with less. We are doing our part by stripping away bureaucratic processes, allowing police and local authorities to focus resources more effectively. Across the country everyone is rising to this challenge, demonstrated by falling crime and rising victim satisfaction. From November, police and crime commissioners will target resources on the issues that matter most to their communities."