Between March 2011 and March 2012, the West Midlands force had the greatest reduction, 435, in the number of front-line police officers. It also had, in the year to June 2012, a 13% reduction in overall recorded crime compared with the previous 12 months—one of the largest falls of any force in England and Wales.
Will the Minister explain to my constituents why Merseyside is having to cut 552 police officers when Surrey, through the new grant system, can employ another 49 police officers? Is it because the Government are fiddling the figures and the grant system? Will he set up an independent body to look at the funding of the police?
The grant system is exactly the same as it was under the Government whom the hon. Gentleman supported. I am happy to tell his constituents that crime in the Merseyside area was down 6% from 2011 to 2012, and that victim satisfaction with Merseyside police is 88%, which is higher than the average for England and Wales. I hope that he and his constituents will join me in congratulating their local police on how well they are doing.
In my constituency, people are worried and angry about the cuts, not just because Greater Manchester police have already lost 650 police posts, but because there are 850 more losses to come. The report of Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary says that the police are already less visible and accessible. Is it not time that we had not just a relaunch but a rethink of these police cuts?
I can only give the hon. Lady the facts. In the Greater Manchester police area, crime went down by 10% over the past year. Her constituents’ streets are safer than they were a year ago, two years ago and three years ago, and 84% of the public say that they are satisfied with Greater Manchester police. On the specific point that she raises, the HMIC report states that the force will save money through collaboration, but that
“the public will not notice any difference in the service they receive in their community.”
Will the Minister join me in commending Adam Simmonds, the new police and crime commissioner for Northamptonshire, who, in his draft crime plan, commits himself to retaining at 1,220 the number of police officers that he inherited, while at the same time creating a new large-scale reservist police force of up to 200 officers, each of whom will be required to give 20 days a year?
I join my hon. Friend in congratulating the police and crime commissioner for Northamptonshire on some of the innovative ideas that he is bringing forward to make the streets of Northamptonshire safer. That is precisely why we should have police and crime commissioners. We now have people all over the country who are able to respond to local needs and demands in a way that is much less top-down and centralist than under the previous system.