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Police Reforms

Volume 611: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

9. What steps she is taking to ensure that police forces implement reforms to increase their effectiveness. (905356)

We have established and continue to strengthen the system whereby police and crime commissioners provide real local accountability on how chief constables’ forces perform. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary inspects efficiency and the effectiveness of force activity, and the College of Policing creates an evidence base as to best practice and sets out professional standards.

Will my right hon. Friend please comment on the reform of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, whose processes have caused some issues for officers in my constituency and whose effectiveness is vital for public confidence in the police?

With the Policing and Crime Bill that is going through the House at the moment, we intend to instil that confidence in the IPCC not just by changing its name, but by strengthening its role. It is absolutely imperative that the public have confidence in the police, as the vast majority of them do a fantastic job.

Will these reforms help solve unsolved crimes? Nobody who grew up in Dudley will forget the shocking murder of 13-year-old paperboy Carl Bridgewater, and no one who watched last night’s documentary on the case will believe that the new evidence it revealed should not be looked at. Will the Minister and the Home Secretary ask the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to review the new evidence to see whether this case can finally be solved and whoever was responsible be brought to justice?

No one will forget that terrible case, no matter how long ago it was, and our thoughts are still with the parents. It is not the role of the IPCC to instruct the police how to investigate, but we will look at the case and at the ongoing evidence. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I could meet to discuss it further.

Having pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Justin Skrebowski claiming diminished responsibility, Trevor Joyce was sentenced last week to life imprisonment. Justin’s brave widow, Gulsen Alkan, has already met Ministers in her campaign against knife crime, but this case also raises questions about how well mental health services work with the police. What steps are the Government taking to improve that, and will the Minister please meet us once more to prove that lessons can be learned from this case, and that such a horrific case can never happen again?

I am pleased that the family has the courage to want to campaign on knife crime. It is very important that victims feel that they have the confidence to come forward. I am sure that either the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), or I will be more than happy to meet to discuss this matter. The issue around mental health is at the core of the Bill that is going through the House at the moment. The police must be used as a last resort when it comes to safety. We must make sure that we have a better understanding of mental health issues. Street triage and other such work that is going on at the moment has really helped us with the type of policing that we want to see in the 21st century.

One thing that makes the police extremely effective is the co-operation that we receive from our European partners. What will the Minister say on 25 June if we are no longer eligible to be in Europol?

We will work with our European partners and other partners around the world to ensure that our criminal justice system works.

To be effective, the police need to be trusted by the community that they serve. Truth is built by being honest about the past. Will the Home Secretary finally do the right thing and grant the request of the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign and nearly 100 cross-party MPs for a full inquiry into what exactly happened on 18 June 32 years ago in the battle of Orgreave?

The hon. Lady raises a very, very important point, and, as Hillsborough has proved, the Home Secretary has a track record of looking at that sort of thing with a very open mind and in a way that perhaps no Home Secretary has ever done. We will look at Orgreave—indeed we are looking at it at the moment. Confidence in our police can be there only if we have a transparent system for dealing with complaints, and that is exactly what the Bill that is going through the House is all about.