As the Home Secretary told the House last month, crime remains too high. That is why we are reforming the police so that they are free from unnecessary paperwork and free to fight crime. The national crime mapping website, police.uk, now provides the public with street-level information about crime and antisocial behaviour on a monthly basis, allowing them to obtain crime and policing information in a more accessible way.
My constituents are extremely concerned about the increase in crime, as outlined in the British crime survey, which shows an 11% increase in crimes against the person, including theft, robbery and violence against the person. When will the Home Secretary prioritise cuts against the cuts in police numbers?
I think I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. When we look at police forces such as his, Northumbria police, we see that they have taken some really important steps to make savings and efficiencies while cutting crime at the same time. Rather than criticising the efforts of police forces such as Northumbria, which has seen a 15% fall in violence against the person, we should be supporting the steps they are taking to find efficiencies and dealing with the problems left by the previous Government.
I am sure that the Minister will be pleased to join me in congratulating Derbyshire police, as crime in Derbyshire continues to fall, detection levels are at a record high, my constituents’ satisfaction with the police has gone up each year and they are meeting their savings targets.
I certainly congratulate my hon. Friend on working closely with his local police force. As he has highlighted, the important thing is how police officers are used. Better deployment, better shift patterns, reduced bureaucracy and increased scope for officers to use their professional judgment are steps that many forces are taking and that this Government support.
As far as crime is concerned, does the Minister’s boss, the Home Secretary, accept that policing, particularly on the front line, should be done by the police? The suggestion that private security firms should undertake some of those responsibilities for West Midlands and Surrey police forces is simply unacceptable: policing should remain the responsibility of the police.
It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman appears to criticise the role of the private sector and looking at ways of providing innovative services, because I know that the shadow Minister, the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), applauded and welcomed that type of innovation when in government. I can say to the hon. Gentleman that where warranted officers are needed for those services, that is absolutely what will happen. Surrey and West Midlands police forces are engaged in looking at innovation in back-office services.
Despite the Opposition’s scaremongering, visible front-line policing in the Thames Valley has risen by more than 11% in the past two years, while recorded crime has fallen by 11%. Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating Chief Constable Sara Thornton and her team on demonstrating that it is possible to reduce crime while cutting bureaucracy and cutting budgets?
I certainly do congratulate Chief Constable Sara Thornton. Thames Valley has increased its visible policing, patrol and neighbourhood officer public reassurance, and that is an example of how efficiencies and a more focused approach can be provided while cutting crime.