Carwyn Jones hits out at Theresa May over policing numbers

Reporter:

Geraint Jones

Carwyn Jones heaped pressure on Theresa May over police cuts as the General Election campaign trail enters the home stretch.

The First Minister, during a visit to North Wales yesterday, spoke after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed calls for Prime Minister Theresa May to resign over cuts to police numbers across the UK.

The whistlestop tour included a visit to the Wrexham Lager Brewery where Ian Lucas, Labour Parliamentary candidate for the town, said that, if elected, his party would recruit more than 850 extra police officers in Wales.

A Labour spokesman later said Mr Corbyn meant voters should judge the Prime Minister and the Tories on their record when they go to the polls on Thursday.

But when asked if he would echo Mr Corbyn’s apparent support for Mrs May's resignation, Mr Jones said: “We may well see that on Friday. Let’s see what the the result is of the election.

“I was surprised at what Theresa May said on Sunday when she said there needed to be policy changes. She said there was too much tolerance of extremism.

“Well, I’m not sure I agree with that but secondly, she has been Home Secretary and Prime Minister, one or the other, for the past seven years so she opens herself to the question: ‘Well what has she done about it?’  

“What we know is that in Wales we’ve lost about 1,000 police officers. We’d put more bobbies back on the on the beat, provide more resources to the intelligence agencies – that’s crucial when it comes to dealing with terrorism – and it’s quite clear today that the Prime Minister has some questions to answer in terms of the cuts that have taken place in police staff.”

Mr Jones added the Welsh Government had invested in 500 new police community support officers – one of Welsh Labour’s Assembly election pledges in 2011.

Mr Lucas added neighbourhood policing was a big issue in Wrexham.

He added: “I was very proud of what we did as a Labour government of re-establishing neighbourhood policing, introducing PCSOs – and that has been really shattered since 2010.

“I think the country has woken up to the way neighbourhood policing has been undermined and the Tories just cannot answer why it is that we have had such a high level of cuts in our police force.

”I think this week the chickens have really come home to roost.

 “The commitment is 853 more police officers in Wales. I’ve talking to people on the doorstep and I’ve been saying we need to have more policing.

Mr Lucas said Wales was “very privileged” to have the extra police community support officers, which was not the case in England.

He also confirmed the 853 new recruits would be police officers rather than PCSOs.

And he added: “There was a time we you had a police officer in every ward in Wrexham, and that’s been reduced massively under the Tories.”

Mr Jones started his visit in Anglesey before knocking on doors in Flint, Queensferry and Coedpoeth and finishing his trip in Wrexham.

The economy and infrastructure were key issues discussed on the campaign trail.

The First Minister highlighted investment in infrastructure on Wrexham Industrial Estate and improvements on the Saltney Curve to increase the numbers of trains between Wrexham and Chester.

“Next stop transport-wise is to look at the Halton Curve so we can get through trains running from Wrexham Central and Liverpool.

“We need to see the electrification of the North Wales main line, but that’s a UK Government responsibility. That needs to happen.”

He added improvements were being made on the A494 junction with the A55 and added that by the end of the summer 96 per cent of premises in Wales would have access superfast broadband of 20 megabits per second or above.

“We’ve paid for that because we know in many part of Wales, the market can’t – there aren’t enough people to justify that investment – so it has to come from government,” he added

“But to me, having that level of broadband speed is the equivalent to having a connection to the railway lines in the 19th century.

“If you’re connected, you’re connected to a world market.”

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