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Police Forces: Finance

Volume 594: debated on Monday 23 March 2015

The Home Secretary and I have made it clear that there is no question but that the police will have the resources to do their important work. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has reported that forces up and down the country are reducing crime and protecting communities, while balancing their books.

Since 2010, Lancashire police has lost 700 posts and 11 police stations have been closed due to £60 million-worth of cuts, with more to come. Offences such as burglary, theft and violence are all on the rise. The Lancashire Police Federation says that the police are at breaking point. Will the Minister please apologise to the people of West Lancashire for failing to honour his promise to protect front-line policing?

I like the hon. Lady—I get on with her really well—but she should apologise to her constituents for not mentioning that crime is down by 9% in her constituency and across Lancashire, something we should all be very proud of.

On Friday night, I went out with the very impressive section 136 team at Worthing police. The initiative, under which community psychiatric nurses go out on patrol with the police, is being piloted in Sussex. Given that up to two thirds of police call-outs are estimated to relate to mental health and substance abuse problems, this has the potential to free up a lot of police time and save a lot of money. These pilots really work, so will they be rolled out across the whole country?

That pilot and other pilots around the country are working. I have seen them myself. It is our intention to continue to roll them out. We are working enormously closely in particular with the mental health team in the Department of Health. I have seen dramatic changes not only in my constituency but around the country. There are people who should not be in cells and should not be arrested. They should be in a place of care, where they need to be. That is what we expect to happen.

My Greater Manchester police force has had to make savings of £145 million in the five years to 2015, and has lost more than 1,300 police officers as a result. Across the country, the picture is pretty similar. Will the Minister say whether, as a result of the changes to police forces, response times have improved or got worse on his watch?

What has happened on the Home Secretary’s watch and on my watch is that crime in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency is down by 20%, something that is forgotten every time Labour Members stand up in this House.