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Police Recruitment

Volume 626: debated on Monday 3 July 2017

5. What steps she is taking to ensure the recruitment to the police force of people with the skills required to tackle modern crime. (900119)

11. What steps she is taking to ensure the recruitment to the police force of people with the skills required to tackle modern crime. (900126)

The Government’s programme of reforms is aimed at ensuring that the police workforce is flexible, capable and professional, agile enough to adapt to changes in crime and society. We established the College of Policing as the professional body for policing, and its new policing education qualification framework is designed to ensure that policing is fit for the future. In addition, innovative recruitment schemes are widening the talent pool, bringing in people from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Tim Passmore, the police and crime commissioner for Suffolk, is recruiting more officers. To help Suffolk police with that task, will the Minister consider expanding the direct entry scheme and introducing more flexibility in salaries and promotion within ranks, so that officers are better able to progress their careers and are not continually moving into new roles when promoted?

We are already encouraging more police chiefs to take advantage of the direct entry scheme. There are a range of innovative examples around the country, including the chief constable in Durham, who is going direct to Sheffield University. As my hon. Friend says, it is also important to recognise police who are already serving, and that is why we fully support the advanced practitioner programme, which is being piloted in eight forces and encourages police to continue to specialise for a longer career, and rewards that effort.

Will the Minister join me in commending Hampshire constabulary on its great specialist entry detective programme, which is helping people find jobs that they want to do in the police service, bringing new people in and keeping the people of North East Hampshire, their property and their families safe?

I am delighted to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to his force. It is really important that in the 21st century we recognise that policing has changed and that people who can contribute to delivering safe streets and investigations come from all over—from education opportunities in universities and from within forces and other public sector bodies. That is why direct entry is one key and enhancing careers is another.

Given the falling numbers of uniformed police officers in Lancashire—down 700 since 2010—what reassurance can the Minister give to my Muslim constituents, who are fearful for their own safety and that of their families in the light of recent attacks on mosques and the horrendous recent acid attacks?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady who, like me, is a Lancashire MP. I speak regularly with the chief constable of Lancashire and his officers. They have put in place lots of measures to ensure that hate crimes do not impact on the community. It is important to note that since 2010 crime has fallen in Lancashire. It is not simply that crime has remained high and police numbers have been cut. The police are doing an amazing job facing today’s challenges with the resources they receive. We have to remember that we have to live within our means.

Given the fact that 21,000 police officers have been lost in the past seven years, whether it is modern crime or traditional crime, and given the pressures that police chiefs recognise, how many police officers does the Minister intend the Government to recruit this year?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the number of police required in each force is down to the chief constable of each force. He should recognise, because in 2009-10 he was doing a similar job to me, that, owing to the changing nature of policing, we have seen an increase in funding for the National Crime Agency and specialist policing to tackle those areas. That goes alongside normal day-to-day policing. Back in 2015, in recognition of the importance of the beat constable, we on the Government Benches protected police spending. We were able to deliver that because we had a firm economy.