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Police Reductions (Northumbria)

Volume 574: debated on Monday 27 January 2014

The independent inspectorate of constabulary has found that, like other forces, Northumbria police are rising to the challenge of making savings while maintaining and improving service to the public. The Northumbria police and crime commissioner has recently restated her and the chief constable’s shared commitment to maintaining the number of police officers and staff working in their neighbourhoods. She is clear that her force needs to do things differently, use technology more effectively and work from different buildings that are cheaper to run.

This morning, Northumbria police arrested eight people as part of Operation Sanctuary, an investigation into horrific allegations of sexual abuse of looked-after young girls and other vulnerable victims in the west end of Newcastle. Police have assured me that they are working with safeguarding agencies and local communities to protect the victims and pursue the perpetrators, but that very police station in the west end of Newcastle is to close as part of the £67 million cuts and we have seen a 7% rise in total crime in the region over the past 12 months. Will the Home Secretary give me a commitment that Northumbria will have the resources it needs to pursue this critical investigation?

I recognise the sort of case that the hon. Lady raises. Sadly, we are seeing too many such cases, particularly involving the horrific abuse of young girls. There have been a number of cases and I was with Thames Valley police a matter of weeks ago to talk to them about Operation Bullfinch and the lessons they had learned from that for the future investigation of such cases and how victims are treated. There has been a lot to learn. I do not think that the physical presence of a police station is what makes the difference to how such a case is treated and I am sure that the chief constable of Northumbria will ensure that there are the resources properly to investigate and to bring to justice those who are guilty of such crimes.