My hon. Friend will know from replies to earlier questions that we are using a range of ways to ensure that police officers, including those in Blackpool, spend more time on duty outside their stations. They range from wider implementation of mobile data units to—crucially—the implementation of neighbourhood policing and the additional front-line support provided by police community support officers and other police staff.
I thank the Minister for that reply. Will he take the opportunity to congratulate Lancashire police force on coming top in this year’s performance assessment? One of the reasons why it came top is the introduction of modern technology; the new personal digital assistants and mobile data terminals allow them to link directly to the main computer to report crime, and give them access to information. That has freed them up for an extra hour every day in which they can be out on the beat.
I certainly agree with my hon. Friend, except for on whether there are things called league tables when it comes to police performance. As a West Ham United fan, I do not recognise league tables of any description; I find that it helps to get me through the football year much more easily. She is right, and I saw much of what she describes when I was in Fleetwood. We had a nice cheese sandwich in the Fleetwood Arms and discussed, among other things, how neighbourhood policing is developing in Lancashire, and the application of personal digital assistants and a range of other IT equipment. Those developments are taking place in police forces across the country, but it is to Lancashire’s great credit that it has led the way in the application of such devices, and in the implementation and roll-out of neighbourhood policing.