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Police Services: Co-operation

Volume 604: debated on Monday 11 January 2016

The Government are supporting local policing leaders to invest in cross-force capabilities and collaborative initiatives by protecting police funding over the course of this Parliament, using the police innovation fund to incentivise collaboration, and providing new transformation funding to drive further investment and innovation.

That is a very encouraging answer, but bearing in mind the work of the ministerial taskforce on child protection, what steps is the Home Secretary taking to make sure that the police co-operate well with other agencies in schools, in the healthcare system, and in social work?

My hon. Friend raises a very important point about the police’s interaction with other agencies in dealing with child protection. On Friday, I visited a school and talked to people there about the work they do with the multi-agency safeguarding hub in bringing together police and various parts of the school and the local authority to deal with those issues. We recognise the role that schools have to play, including through personal, social, health and economic education and through sex and relationships education. We also announced in March, when we launched our “Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation” report, that we will be looking at the training of staff, to enable them to be better able to spot the signs of where children may be being exploited in that way.

Is the Home Secretary aware that, although there is a lot of good co-operation across the police services in Yorkshire, many criminals in our part of the world flee to Pakistan and, given that we do not have an extradition treaty, that is becoming a great burden on the police services when dealing with very serious crimes?

I am, of course, aware of a small number of particular cases where concern has been expressed. I would not want to comment on individual ongoing police investigations, but both we and the police recognise the significance of the issues. Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman says, some of the cases involve very serious crimes indeed.

As my right hon. Friend will know, Avon and Somerset police and Wiltshire police are working together strategically to help increase efficiency. The police and crime commissioner elections are coming up in May. Does she agree that PCCs across the south-west should work together to help merge the authorities in order to not only increase the efficiency of the police, but help tackle cross-authority crime?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. Some weeks ago, I visited the new combined firearms training facility that is being used in that way by the Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and, indeed, Gloucestershire forces. That is a very good example of collaboration. It is absolutely right that police and crime commissioners should also be looking for ways in which they can collaborate, not just in relation to the police, but, increasingly, in relation to fire services.

Such co-operation is vital for the Disclosure and Barring Service to meet its target of 40 days to deal with applications, but it is taking much longer in many cases, including that of a constituent of mine who has been waiting five months since his initial application, causing serious hardship. Is the Home Secretary aware of such delays, particularly within the Metropolitan Police, and what steps will she take to correct the situation?

I assure the hon. Lady that I am aware of the delays taking place in the Metropolitan Police, which is a matter that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), is taking up and looking into in detail.

Northamptonshire has been extremely innovative in developing new policing models, particularly in relation to rural crime, so what steps will the Home Secretary take to share that best practice nationally?

Northamptonshire has indeed taken a number of initiatives and I am very pleased to say that, in collaboration, the police and crime commissioner, Adam Simmonds, has been particularly innovative in his thinking, looking at ways in which collaboration, not only between police forces but with other agencies, can take place. It is part of the role of the College of Policing to ensure that good practice, where it occurs, is spread so that other forces are aware of what action can be taken, to help them deal with the same issues, such as rural crime.

Could the Home Secretary update us on the progress she is making on co-operation between emergency services, be they the police, the NHS or the fire services?

Yes, I will refer later to some of the steps the Government are taking in relation to that collaboration. We are encouraging police forces and fire services in particular to look for collaboration where they can find it. In some parts of the country, such as Northamptonshire, the police and crime commissioner is also actively looking to see what action can be taken in relation to ambulance services, too.