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Neighbourhood Policing

Volume 743: debated on Monday 15 January 2024

8. What recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of neighbourhood policing levels. (900920)

Giving the police the resources they need to police local communities and fight crime remains a Government priority. We have delivered on our commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers; indeed, we have surpassed that. Decisions about how they are deployed are, of course, a matter for discussion between chief constables, police and crime commissioners, and mayors, who are responsible for their local communities.

The legacy of Government cuts has left police forces across England and Wales with a £3.2 billion cash shortfall, and 6,000 officers have now been taken away from frontline policing duties in order to fill the roles of former police staff. Can the Home Secretary start to acknowledge the effect of Tory cuts? How will he rectify that and get more frontline police back into our neighbourhoods across the United Kingdom?

As I said, decisions on how a police force balances its important back-office roles and frontline policing roles are rightly decisions for the chief constable. We have given additional resource, and we have delivered on our commitment to have more police officers. Of course we are looking at police funding formulas to ensure that they remain well resourced, but there are more than 20,000—in fact, 20,947—additional police officers in England and Wales. That will ensure that there are more police on the frontline.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) said, to this day we are feeling the devastating impact of the Tories’ decision to cut 20,000 police officers. Ministers such as the Home Secretary seem to expect credit for desperately trying to reverse it, but the National Police Chiefs’ Council was right that the efforts at reversal have moored 6,000 warranted officers in roles traditionally filled by civilians. Again, we have heard from the Home Secretary that we have never had it so good, but there are still 10,000 fewer neighbourhood police. Why will the Government not match our commitment to get 13,000 more police officers and police community support officers out on the beat?

Unless Labour has a plan for paying for those figures, it is just empty rhetoric. The simple truth is that there are record numbers of officers in police forces across the country, including Essex Police, which I visited this morning—it has never had more police officers than it has currently. It is right that chief constables decide how to deploy those police officers. Again, unless we hear a plan to pay for those additional officers, I will not trust Labour’s figures.