Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been accused of making racist comments during a heated public meeting in Dunstable.
Kathryn Holloway compared the budget spent on overseas aid with the amount spent on British policing, saying she “felt very strongly about it,” and saying she thought others in the room should as well.
“We spend as much, in fact slightly more on overseas aid than we do on the entire British policing budget,” she told the meeting at Dunstable community fire station.
“Now I suspect you might feel quite strongly about it. I feel very strongly about that.”
The meeting was called by the PCC as part of her roadshow to explain work she had carried out since she became commissioner.
But residents in Dunstable also used it to vent their frustration at what they say is a lack of policing in Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
Her comments were condemned by Houghton Regis councillor Tracey McMahon who called it a “low blow” on social media.
She said: “The ‘Foreign Aid’ card was a low blow I thought. Many people are under the misconception that this is UK taxpayer money that is just given away. It’s not. Aid is given in the form of loans. The UK government and ‘other’ investors actually make money from ‘giving’ aid. Foreign Aid is a money making mechanism for the government. No wonder they pay more into it than our police service. The police service doesn’t make money!”
Another commented: “Lets fan the flames of racial tension, why dont we. I will be putting in a formal complaint when i find out who is the boss of the PCC. Unacceptable and irresponsible.
Another person at the meeting later commented: ”I was very dismayed to hear this as tensions have been high lately to immigrants etc. This was a very manipulated response from her & she shouldn’t do that.”
Another person said: “The commissioner has been fully aware of the situation in our town, so to have created a diversion tactic by pulling out the funding and foreign card instead of responding head on is a low blow. This tactic has worked to distract us. Funding is a factor but not a full preventor. It’s like she’s saying until I get a further £10m I’m happy for my town to be infested with ASBO, theives, Peado and the rest. There are more effective ways to work with a set budget and divide our force up. This is what I wanted to hear from Katherine Holloway last night.”
When approached by the Dunstable Gazette Mrs Holloway said: “There is nothing whatsoever that is racist about stating the simple fact that the government spends as much on foreign aid as it does on the entire policing budget for England and Wales.”