When Farnham police station shut its doors in 2012, it was one of 14 casualties of the Conservative and Lib Dem government’s cuts to constabularies across Surrey. 

Dorking, Godalming and Camberley were among the other nearby towns to lose a place to report crime. And, though the rationale that these were underused had some truth to it, the argument that the cash raised would protect police jobs proved to be false. The Tory-Lib Dem coalition slashed police budgets from 2010 leading to a reduction of 21,000 officers across England and Wales.  

These issues deserve reexamination in the run-up to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections which take place across the country on Thursday. 

I note that both Conservative incumbents are claiming that police numbers are up. But the truth is that because of rapid population growth in Surrey, the actual number of police officers per person was almost nine per cent lower in 2023 than in 2010. In Hampshire, the picture is even bleaker with 411 fewer officers.

When I’m knocking on doors, the lack of responsiveness clearly irks local residents too. Shocking official statistics show that callers had to abandon 47 per cent of 101 calls to the Surrey police.

I have been discussing this issue with Kate Chinn who is Labour candidate for the PCC in Surrey. Her remedy, and the Labour Party’s policy, is remarkably straightforward. 

Labour will recruit another 13,000 police officers to match the population growth.

Though realistically, we can’t rebuild police stations in every town, Labour will develop more visible police bases in vacant shop units – an empty unit at Brightwells, Farnham, for example, or in The Shed in Bordon. 

Beyond these basics, Kate has four key policies to help tackle crime in our area.

Bringing back neighbourhood police teams who know their residents, strikes me as a no-brainer. Every community in Farnham and Bordon should have a named officer. 

Ending the “£200 rule” brought in by the Conservatives which stops thefts under £200 being investigated – even if the same shoplifting gang comes back time and again. 

And, we need to crack down on anti-social behaviour through tough new Respect Orders with criminal sanctions for persistent anti-social behaviour. 

With clear-up rates at historically low levels, perhaps our most important priority is to fast-track the recruitment of specialist detectives to increase the proportion of crimes solved with a dramatically larger pool of prosecutors to bring criminals to justice.

Recent opinion polls show that public confidence in our police service has never been lower. It’s time to rebuild trust with serious investment and a dramatic shift in priorities. As with so many of our public services, the Tories simply can’t be trusted with this. It really is time for change and I would urge you or to look at the options very carefully before casting your vote on Thursday.

If you would like to find out more about Labour policies on tackling crime and antisocial behaviour, please see our website at FABLabour.com

Alex Just

Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Farnham and Bordon