Shadow home secretary Ed Balls today attacked the David Cameron's "Big Society" policy agenda, labelling it a "big con" leading to public services being run by volunteers on the cheap and a significant deterioration in crime prevention.
Shadow home secretary Ed Balls has attacked David Cameron’s “Big Society” policy agenda, labelling it a “big con” leading to public services being run by volunteers on the cheap and a significant deterioration in crime prevention. Writing in today’s Tribune, Balls says the 20 per cent cut to the Home Office budget will jeopardise the police’s ability to engage in a wider role of effective crime prevention, and calls the narrowing of the focus of police forces misguided.
“… all the senior police officers I’ve met in my constituency, and over the last month doing this new job, recognise they cannot effectively deal with crime and anti-social behaviour if they view their role as being simply about ‘catching and convicting criminals’.”
Projects such as the Family Intervention Projects, though costing up to £15,000 per family, actually saved money said Balls, arguing that troublesome families, if not dealt with, can cost the taxpayer £250,000 – £350,000.
“They [constabularies] know they also have a wider responsibility to work with other services to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in the first place. The coalition doesn’t seem to understand this.
“And for all David Cameron’s rhetoric about a ‘big society’, the reality of the government’s policies look set to weaken not strengthen our society – because it’s not just prevention and early intervention which is facing deep and immediate cuts, but local policing too.”
Coupled with a 27 per cent budget cut to local government, Balls says the cuts to police budgets are all about “devolving blame” not power. and that front-loaded cuts – with the biggest cut of 8 per cent due in the year of the Olympics – render any efficiency savings obsolete.
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“So this is the coalition’s big idea: shrink the state, make the security of local communities increasingly reliant on the good-will of volunteers, expect charities to fill the gap and provide public services for free, cut the very services which prevent crime and anti-social behaviour and devolve the blame just in time for when it all goes wrong.
“That’s why I say David Cameron’s ‘big society’ is a big con. It’s a sure-fire route to a weaker society and it’s time we exposed it.”