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Community Police Officers

Volume 626: debated on Monday 3 July 2017

The hon. Gentleman will know, I am sure, that direct resource funding for the South Wales police force, which covers his constituency, will be up 3% in 2017-18. He will also know that decisions on the size, composition and deployment of the police workforce are operational matters for individual chief officers and police and crime commissioners.

Ministers should be given credit for making sure that they leave no cliché left unsaid in their attempt to defend their actions in relation to the police force. Can the Minister remember a time when a Conservative Government have been so unpopular with police officers—apart from when the current Prime Minister was Home Secretary?

I know from my time shadowing the hon. Gentleman that he defers to no one in his admiration of a good cliché. What I would say to him is what I hope any Policing Minister for any Government of any colour would say, which is that public safety is the No.1 priority for any Government. As he heard from the Minister for Security, my right hon. Friend the Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace), we have protected police spending in real terms since 2015 and increased spending in areas of specialisation. Now, in the light of the terrible events that have shocked us all, it is quite right that we go through a process of reviewing, with police and crime commissioners and colleagues from all parts of the House, what resources are needed to be absolutely sure that the police have the resources to keep us safe.

The Minister will be aware that motorbike and moped crime in London is on the increase. We need community officers who can deal with this problem directly, as it is an increasing issue. What are the Government doing about it? Can we please make our communities safer in this respect?

As a fellow London MP, I totally agree. In fact, I heard it directly the other day from a sergeant with whom I was walking the beat in London Bridge. As my hon. Friend knows, it is a requirement of local police chiefs to set the operational priorities. It is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need to meet all the risks they see.

19. The Minister will agree with me that community policing is the bedrock on which all policing operates, but following the bomb in Greater Manchester the whole of the police service has been working 12-hour days and there is no capacity to draw people in for overtime. Does the Minister not understand that policing is stretched beyond any capacity to deliver? (900134)

I hope the hon. Gentleman knows that we are extremely sensitive to that point. As I said in my remarks, we are very aware that the pressure put on the police as a result of recent terrible events, not least the one in Manchester, has required a surge of police effort and fantastic collaboration between forces, but we now have to sit down rationally with police and crime commissioners and police chiefs, to really understand and test assertions about pressure on police forces and to make sure that they have the resources they need to keep us safe.

Our west midlands police have done a fantastic job in cutting crime and doing more with less. Will the Minister ensure that the police funding formula is reformed to deliver a fair deal for the west midlands?

I thank my hon. Friend for his comment. I hope I can reassure him that a lot of work is being done to ensure not only that the police have the resources they need, but that they are allocated fairly across all forces. No final decision has been taken on the fair funding formula, but I am happy to sit down with my hon. Friend and colleagues from all parts of the House who have concerns about the resource allocation for their forces.

During the Queen’s Speech debate on security last week, the Home Secretary said she was more worried about outcomes than police numbers, so will the Minister tell the House how the Home Office measures and values the outcomes of community police officers?

Ultimately, what matters most is the trend in crime, which the right hon. Gentleman knows from experience is what unsettles our constituents most. Public safety is the No. 1 priority, so the ultimate outcome is the crime statistics, and I am sure that he will join me in welcoming the long-term decline that we have seen since 2010.