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Police Resources

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

I am sure that the whole House will join me in sending our very sincere condolences to the family of Sergeant Graham Saville, who a week or two ago so tragically lost his life in the line of duty, saving another in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick). Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He made the ultimate sacrifice, and we are grateful to him.

To answer my hon. Friends’ questions, total police funding this year stands at £17.2 billion, a record level. Frontline policing received an extra £550 million this year compared with last year, and I am pleased to report once again that we have a record number of police officers across England and Wales: 149,566, which is 3,500 more than we ever had under the last Labour Government.

As always, the devil is in the detail. In Durham, we see funding pressure on both police and fire services, which is not helped by our local tax base being so low: we have A to C in most regions. The fire service has a coherent—albeit very challenged—programme, but the Labour police and crime commissioner knew 10 years ago that Newton Aycliffe police station was going to be moved away from the fire station, and she is still scrambling around. Does the Minister agree that good plans help cost-effective delivery, and will he meet me to discuss funding and programme delivery for the police and fire services in Durham that cover my Sedgefield constituency? Does he also agree that electing Robert Potts, the Conservative candidate for the next PCC elections in May, would be a far better outcome for the police in Durham?

I will certainly meet with my hon. Friend, and yes, I do agree. I am very disappointed to hear what he has to say about his Labour PCC’s performance, which contrasts with what Conservative PCCs have done. Only today, PCC Donna Jones in Hampshire announced that she would be opening 10 new police counters, an example of what happens when we have sound Conservative policies in operation.

My right hon. Friend will recall his recent visit to Uxbridge. Will he join me in calling for the Mayor of London to guarantee the future of Uxbridge police station as fully operational, including a full custody suite and a 24/7 front counter for my constituents?

I welcome my hon. Friend to his very well-deserved place. Of course, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had planned to close down Uxbridge police station, along with many others, until my hon. Friend forced him into a humiliating U-turn before he was even elected—that is more than most of us achieved prior to coming to Parliament. I join him in calling on the Mayor of London to keep Uxbridge police station open and to add that custody suite, but also to confirm the future of all those other police stations around London that he had threatened to close just a few years ago.

In my constituency, we have experienced a real escalation in antisocial behaviour and quite violent disorder in recent years, particularly around bonfire night. Last year, police had to deploy 100 officers to just one area of my constituency where local communities were being terrorised. What consideration has the Minister made of additional powers or resources for areas up and down the country that are anticipating further unacceptable disorder ahead of this year’s bonfire night?

The hon. Lady is quite right to raise this issue. Antisocial behaviour concerns everyone. There are a number of powers available to local police, such as community protection notices, and to local authorities—I am thinking in particular of public space protection orders—so I strongly urge her to work with her local authority and, if she is concerned about a particular area, to put in place a public space protection order ahead of bonfire night. Our antisocial behaviour plan envisages strengthening various antisocial behaviour powers. As of next April, we will also be funding every single police force in the country to have antisocial behaviour hotspot patrols. I am not sure whether her force is one of the 10 pilot areas, but every force will have that funding from next April, and the sort of situation that she describes sounds like the ideal use for those ASB hotspot patrols.

The same shops and newsagents on Kilburn High Road in my constituency are constantly targeted by criminals, who shoplift but also intimidate staff. When I raised the issue with the police, they said they receive 1,000 calls a day from central north London alone, limiting their ability to deal with it. What plans does the Minister have to increase the resources to deal with this sort of crime, especially retail theft?

I strongly sympathise with those affected by shoplifting on Kilburn High Road. I was the prospective parliamentary candidate in that constituency in 2010, and I remember walking down Kilburn High Road with Dominic Grieve when a shoplifter ran out of Poundland and straight into our arms. It is a serious issue. The Metropolitan police has a record number of police officers—about 35,000—and I have recently been in discussions with Amanda Blakeman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead, to increase patrolling in shoplifting hotspot areas and to have a more comprehensive response from the police in terms of investigation, such as always following up CCTV footage where it is available. This is an issue not just on Kilburn High Road but around the country. As I say, we will shortly announce further action, in partnership with police.