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Volume 660: debated on Wednesday 15 May 2019

1. What assessment the Government have made of the effect of changes to the policing budget since 2015 on the operational effectiveness of Welsh police forces. (910816)

2. What assessment the Government have made of the effect of changes to the policing budget since 2015 on the operational effectiveness of Welsh police forces. (910817)

We have been clear that ensuring that the police have the right resources and powers is a Government priority, which is why we are providing more than £1 billion of additional funding to the police in 2019-20, including precept, and additional funding for serious violence. Funding to the Welsh forces will increase by more than £43 million in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19.

I welcome the Minister to his place, but I wish he would not just regurgitate Tory twaddle. When the National Audit Office makes it clear that central Government funding to police has fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010-11, and when the cross-party Home Affairs Committee makes it clear that the funding structure is not fit for purpose, can we have some action? Can we have some standing up for Wales instead of the vacuous nonsense we get from this Tory Government?

It has to be said that anyone who wants to hear vacuous nonsense can just listen to those sort of attacks in the Chamber. Let us be clear: in 2015-16, the combined budget for North Wales police was £139.8 million; in 2019-20, it will be £115.8 million. That shows the increase in funding that is going on. Three out of the four forces in Wales are rated good for effectiveness, which is the subject of the main question.[Official Report, 20 May 2019, Vol. 660, c. 5MC.]

South Wales police are dealing with nearly 50% of all crimes reported in Wales in an environment of increased domestic violence, knife crime, serious crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, they face a greatly reduced budget and the loss of nearly 1,000 staff. South Wales police are doing a good job; when will the Government give them the resources and the support they need?

The Government recognise the pressures, for example, in the recent announcement of additional knife crime funding, South Wales police will receive £1.2 million. In 2015-16, South Wales police had a budget of £255.1 million; in 2019-20, its budget will be £290.3 million.

Will the Minister join me in commending Welsh police officers for some of their recent successes in bearing down on county lines drug operations, which increasingly target rural areas? We welcome the additional money that was announced last week for South Wales police, but does the Minister agree that all police forces in Wales, including my own force, Dyfed-Powys police, deserve extra resources to tackle this evil trade?

My right hon. Friend perfectly highlights the fact that crime does not stop at political borders. Criminals and gangs in England target victims in north Wales, south Wales and in his constituency. It is a priority and there has been a focus on tackling county lines. That shows the importance of working together across political boundaries to tackle a crime that all our constituents are concerned about.

Dyfed-Powys police and Gwent police work closely with West Mercia police on county lines issues, drug running and child trafficking. What is the Government’s view of the comments of Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency, that more funding is required for county lines issues?

I praise West Mercia police for their work to help tackle cross-border crime, particularly around county lines. The Government will always look to provide the powers and resources that the police need to tackle that, but it is also vital that we have joined-up working. It is also right that, as was touched on in the comments, we look to tackle the kingpins of those organisations, not just the street dealers, who we can see most easily.

If Welsh policing was devolved as is the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland, there would be a £20 million windfall for Welsh policing. Does it not show how bad the England and Wales grant system is that we were better off under the Barnett formula? Is it not time that the British Government dropped their ideological obsession against devolving policing to Wales?

I do not recognise the figures that have just been used. As we touched on in answers to two previous questions, crime does not stop at political boundaries. Criminal gangs in the north-west of England target victims in north Wales as much as victims within England. The real political obsession is that of Plaid, which wants to determine things on political boundaries, not on how communities and criminals work.