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Lincolnshire Police Budget

Volume 590: debated on Monday 5 January 2015

15. What recent discussions she has had with the chief constable of Lincolnshire on the budget of the Lincolnshire police. (906758)

The Home Secretary and I meet all the chief constables regularly and I personally met the chief constable of Lincolnshire very recently.

With more than 8,000 front-line police officers out of 16,000 cut already, is not the Lincolnshire chief constable right to warn that the loss of a further 6,000 front-line officers, along with other cuts, will simply mean that police forces across the country will collapse? They will go and there will not be any need for PCCs because there will not be any forces.

I am sure the residents and constituents of Stoke-on-Trent South will be interested to hear about the hon. Gentleman’s interest in Lincolnshire. At the end of the day, it is for Lincolnshire and its chief constable to decide what they want to do and we will support them in those decisions. They do not have to be about a reduction in police officers; actually, we have seen an increase in the number of police officers on the ground in Lincolnshire.

I am surprised that my otherwise good friend the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Robert Flello) is suddenly taking such an interest in the Lincolnshire constabulary. To put things in perspective, the reason our budgets have suffered for many years is the sparsity factor formula put in place by the previous Labour Government which transferred resources from rural authorities to places such as Stoke-on-Trent. Having said that, we have still managed to cut crime in Lincolnshire by 20% over five years.

To be honest, I perfectly understand that any chief constable and PCC will campaign for extra money, but at the same time I cannot understand the sudden interest taken in Lincolnshire by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Robert Flello). When this Government came to power, 91% of police were on the front line; that figure is now 93%. My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) is absolutely right to say that there has been a 20% cut in crime in Lincolnshire.

Like many other chief constables around the country, the chief constable of an efficient and effective police service in Lincolnshire has made it clear that the Government’s proposed cuts will see meaningful neighbourhood policing ceased; response times get longer; officer safety put at risk; the ability to investigate historical child sex exploitation cases limited; and public confidence in policing severely eroded. Is he right to say that and is it right for the Home Secretary to spend £50 million on next year’s PCC elections when what the public want is for that money to be invested in front-line policing?

I do not recognise the figure of £50 million, but it is not unlike the Labour party to make up figures as it goes along. At the end of the day, Members either believe in localism or they do not, and running down the police of this country, as the Opposition do regularly, is not the answer. We need to support our police, make sure we can get the austerity through and make sure that more police are on the front line. That is what we are doing.