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Police Numbers (Crime Levels)

Volume 524: debated on Monday 7 March 2011

20. What research her Department has commissioned and evaluated on any relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime. (44059)

The Government believe that police forces can make savings while protecting the front line. We do not accept that reducing costs will cause an increase in crime. What matters is how resources are used and how officers are deployed.

The Minister will know that in south Wales we have already seen the announcement that 250 front-line police officers will lose their jobs. When I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago with our police authority, it warned that a further 320 front-line officers could lose out as a result of the cuts. Is the Minister seriously telling the people of Wales that crime will not increase as a result of that enormous loss in front-line policing capacity?

I do not accept that the reductions in head count in that police force or in any other will impact on the front line, and I very much doubt that the chief constable would agree with that. I remind the hon. Gentleman of what the Home Affairs Committee concluded in its recent report:

“We accept that there is no simple relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime. The reduction in the police workforce need not inevitably lead to a rise in crime.”

That is a cross-party Committee.

I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend that this is about how police forces are deploying their officers. In North Yorkshire, we have a particular problem with rural crime. I would be most grateful if he would meet me and other rural Members to discuss this issue. Farms and farm property, in particular, are being trashed because we simply do not have enough cover in rural areas.

I would of course be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the issue. I understand the importance of dealing with crime in rural areas just as we must deal with crime elsewhere. The police cannot act alone, and it is very important that there are effective partnerships with, for instance, the farming community so that, where possible, there can be a concerted effort to deal with this problem.