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British Crime Survey

Volume 548: debated on Monday 9 July 2012

1. What overall change in the level of crime has been identified by the British crime survey since May 2010. (115538)

17. What overall change in the level of crime has been identified by the British crime survey since May 2010. (115554)

The crime survey shows that overall crime has remained broadly stable since May 2010. Police-recorded crime fell 3% in the year ending December 2011 compared with the previous 12 months, but as I have told the House previously, crime is still too high, and that is why we are making a number of reforms to policing to ensure that police are free to fight crime.

Over the past two years overall crime has not fallen, whereas crime fell by more than 40% under Labour. Does the Home Secretary believe that the 20% cuts to the police are partly to blame, and will she now change course to a more proportionate cuts plan of 12% over this Parliament?

The hon. Lady bases her question on a premise that I do not accept and which is not accepted by the Home Affairs Committee or, indeed, by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, which in its report on “Policing in austerity” recently stated that

“there is no evidence of a correlation between the change in number of officers and the change in total recorded crime.”

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Peter Fahy says that crime reduction is achieved by neighbourhood policing and by the police strengthening their relationships with local people. The number of police officers on visible policing lines in Greater Manchester has fallen by 300 in the past two years, so what effect does the Secretary of State expect that to have on crime levels in the area?

As I just pointed out to the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra), what we see is that there is no simple link—this is supported by HMIC and by the Home Affairs Committee—between officer numbers and crime figures. In Greater Manchester, police officer numbers have fallen by 4%, but overall crime has fallen by 6%.

Will my right hon. Friend congratulate those police forces in England and Wales which have worked to contribute to a 5% reduction in household crime between the years ending December 2010 and December 2011, and also welcome the 8% reduction in such crime in Cheshire, my local constabulary area?

I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the work that the Cheshire constabulary has done to ensure a fall in overall crime which is above the national average. We congratulate all officers who have contributed to that.

The latest figures for year-on-year crime in Leicestershire show a reduction of 4.3%, or 3,083 offences, over the year. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Leicestershire constabulary on its excellent work in the face of a challenging spending settlement?

I am very happy, again, to join my hon. Friend in congratulating police officers in Leicestershire on all their work in seeing that fall in crime. It is important; it matters to local communities; and it is clear that officers in Leicestershire and in many forces throughout the country are out there doing what we want them to do, which is to fight crime.

In Nottinghamshire, we have seen over the past financial year the fifth largest increase in crime of any police force, yet we have had the fourth largest funding cut of any authority. Will the Home Secretary look again at the funding formula and, in particular, when she reviews the damping mechanism of those formulas, think carefully about the impact on Nottinghamshire? Police officers really do make a difference to crime.

As Home Secretaries and Policing Ministers through the years have discovered, there are forces that benefit from damping and forces that do not. We committed to look at the damping mechanism in the last two years of the spending review period, but my right hon. Friend the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice has initiated that work already and is currently looking at the issue.

In a year of unprecedented operational demand, with the Olympics following Euro 2012 events, recorded crime in East Sussex is at its lowest in five years. Will the Home Secretary join me in congratulating East Sussex police force on its excellent work in reducing crime in the county and in my constituency?

Yes, I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in doing so. There has been a fall in crime of 14.5% in Hastings borough, and that is a big tribute to the work of police officers in that part of East Sussex—and long may it continue.