BEFORE Parliament broke up for the Easter Recess, Labour called an Opposition Day debate on police funding.

I spoke in the debate to call on the UK Government to end indefensible cuts to our police forces.

Statistics show clearly that across the UK crime is increasing at the same time as central government funding is shrinking.

Our local police and crime commissioner Jeff Cuthbert has rightly highlighted that policing is under-resourced to deal with an escalating problem, with the day-to-day requirements of proactive crime prevention coupled with the demands of counter-terrorism and new complex forms of criminality such as cyber-crime.

Across the country, police numbers are at their lowest level for decades, damaging community safety.

Since 2010, Gwent Police has seen its budget cut in real terms by around 40 per cent.

This has meant the loss of roughly 340 frontline officers and 200 members of staff.

As I highlighted in the debate, Gwent Police have done an incredible job in the face of these strains on finance and resources.

A recent report by the inspectorate for constabulary services showed that Gwent has maintained the highest estimated spending on neighbourhood policing of all 43 forces in England and Wales, and the force is now recruiting again – it was a pleasure to attend a passing out parade in Cwmbran just a few weeks ago.

However, this has only been possible because of the force’s effective financial management, efficiency savings and annual increases in the local precept.

Indeed, if the reduction in funding from the UK Government continues over the next three years, Gwent Police estimate that around 50 per cent of their budget would have to come from the precept, compared to only 30 per cent in 2008.

The Welsh Government – which has no responsibility for policing – has stepped up to the mark and provided money for 101 PCSOs for Gwent, without which we would only have had around 30.

This is welcome, but the wider challenges facing police finance and resources have not gone away, and can only be solved by a decisive change in approach from ministers in Whitehall.

I’ll continue to call for the UK Government to urgently review its strategy on police funding.

- I’ve also had the opportunity in Parliament to highlight some of the positive developments happening in our area, including Spanish train company CAF recruiting 200 roles for their new factory in Llanwern, the new semi-conductor facility, National Cyber Academy and Software Facility, the potential of the Metro system, the new International Convention Centre at the Celtic Manor and more.

However, we must also ensure, particularly with reports of the housing market booming, that as Newport and Severnside grows we have access to affordable housing and the infrastructure to accompany it.

This is something we’ll need all levels of government working together on, and alongside better rail services, I’ll keep raising this with ministers.