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As Members may recall, Labour claimed to be tough on crime. They used to say that they were turning the key on the prison gates and bars in order to secure someone, but at the same time they could not push people out too quickly. That is why we saw the release schemes enjoyed by so many people during their time in office, and why I asked the shadow Secretary of State about overcrowding. That is the last Government’s legacy, and that is the reality of Britain’s prisons today.

What has the policy of the last Government meant in the real world in which some of us worked before we came to this place? I had clients aged 18 and 19 who were on remand, which meant that they were innocent, and in adult prisons because there were no places for them in young offenders’ institutions. I had clients who, when I asked them whether they been to see their drug worker, said that they had been unable to arrange an appointment because of the overcrowding. I had clients—as I now have constituents—who were willing to go on courses in order to be rehabilitated and educated, and who could not obtain places on those courses. That is the legacy of the Labour party. It is an absolute disgrace, and it is even more disgraceful that they are in denial about it.

Karl Turner: Does the hon. Lady agree with the policy of reducing sentences by 50%? If so, given all her professional experience during her 16 years of practice as a barrister, how does she think it can be justified, and does she think it will work?

Anna Soubry: I am happy to answer the hon. Gentleman’s questions. The reply to the first is yes. Being a lawyer himself, he will know two things. First, there is a good argument that in lengthy, tedious, multi-handed fraud cases, allowing a judge to give a 50% discount will do what everyone wants and crack heads together, and that it will work. Secondly, it is dishonest of Labour Members to criticise this Government for proposing a 50% increase when the present law allows it¸ as the hon. Gentleman well knows—or, at least, should know, as he is meant to be a lawyer. At present a judge has discretion, if he or she so chooses, to allow a discount of more than 50%, depending on the circumstances of the case.

My complaint, which I have expressed in public before, is about those who are excessively prescriptive and tie our judges’ hands. One of the big failings of the Labour party was that in all aspects of policy, it consistently failed to trust professionals: our teachers, our nurses and our doctors. It also failed to trust our judges. If we freed their hands and enabled them to decide the appropriate sentence given all the circumstances of a case, there would be greater honesty in our sentencing policy, and there would undoubtedly be better sentencing.

There are many issues that I would have liked to discuss, but I shall mention only two more. The first relates to events that took place last week. I say this as a woman: I find it offensive when the issue of rape is turned into a women’s issue, taken up by people and used as a political football. As I have said in this place before, some victims of rape are male, and a considerable number of victims of rape are children. It is not a women’s issue, and some of the hysteria that we heard last week did no one any favours.

Fiona Mactaggart: I suspect that the hon. Lady may be partly referring to me. Yes, there are male victims of rape—although there are fewer than one in 10—and of

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course there are child victims of rape. However, the issue affects women much more than men. That is the point I was making.

Anna Soubry: I was not referring to the hon. Lady, whom I congratulate on the work that she did in enabling not just women but children to come forward and give evidence, and indeed improving sentencing. On the issue of men, she gave the statistic of 1%. I am always a bit cynical about statistics. [Hon. Members: “It was 10%.”] Forgive me: it was 10%. I strongly suspect that, because of the stigma attached to rape, many more men are raped than come forward, but let us hope we can debate that on another occasion.

My next point highlights why many Members, certainly on the Government Benches, feel somewhat cynical when the issue of rape is raised. Can the shadow Justice Secretary explain why in this place last week the Leader of the Opposition was for the first time flanked by two women—the deputy leader of the Labour party and the shadow Home Secretary, but not the shadow Justice Secretary—when he questioned the Prime Minister about the various comments made by the Lord Chancellor? Was that a deliberate ploy? Did the Leader of the Opposition surround himself with women to make some point? I ask that question because rape is not a women’s issue; it concerns everybody, and many of us are particularly concerned about the effect it has on children.

I am greatly in favour of the Government’s sentencing proposals. Their document on the matter is radical and brave, and I agree with the many comments made by Government Members about short sentencing.

Richard Drax (South Dorset) (Con): Does my hon. Friend think that the victims she has met during her career will be reassured to hear that we are proposing to cut sentences by, perhaps, a half? How will that go down with the victims my hon. Friend has met?

Anna Soubry: I hope my hon. Friend will forgive me for saying that one of the difficulties that arise in our discussions on sentencing is when we speak about issues with a lack of information and understanding. First, let me say that victims are not all the same. They come in different shapes and sizes, and with different experiences. Sometimes—although very rarely—victims want to give evidence in order to exorcise what has happened to them. I am not for one moment talking here about rape victims, but this point applies to certain other categories of victim, such as some victims of burglary. Other victims, however, are terrified about giving evidence and would do anything rather than go into the witness box. We must therefore stop taking a broad-brush approach to sentencing, victims and criminals. That is one reason why I so strongly support our proposals: they recognise that defendants and criminals must not be treated in this broad-brush way.

I especially commend community sentences for people who have not committed the most serious offences. Tough community sentences can and do work. When faced with the prospect of another six months in custody or a tough two-year community sentence, many of my clients wanted the community sentence—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Time is up. I call Karl Turner.

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6.53 pm

Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry). I have not got as much professional experience as her; she practised as a criminal barrister for 16 years, whereas before the general election I was a pupil barrister in my local chambers in Hull. I practised as a criminal solicitor for some time prior to that, however, and I have not met or spoken to anyone from the profession in recent days who has said the policy in question is a good one. Indeed, I have spoken to Members who sit on the hon. Lady’s side of the House, including practising barristers, who have said that this policy is simply wrong.

I have a great deal of respect for the Lord Chancellor; I think he is a very honourable man, and I am sure that the explanation for his remarks last week is that he did not choose his words very well. Indeed, to be honest, when I heard, and listened back to, his comments, I understood the point he was trying to make. The reality, however, is that some sentences that are currently on the statute book are too low. In an earlier intervention, I made a point about convictions and sentences for the offence of causing death by careless driving while over the limit—[Interruption.] I have done the maths; the hon. Member for Broxtowe might be able to correct me if she thinks she is more experienced than me. The figure for that offence is nine months. How can that possibly be fair to victims? Also, the maximum sentence for the offence of dangerous driving per se is two years’ imprisonment, but that offence often causes paralysis; it leaves people in wheelchairs, their lives ruined, yet the starting point is 12 months.

There is no evidence that the proposed policy will encourage people to plead guilty even earlier.

Anna Soubry: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Karl Turner: No, I am sorry, but there is not sufficient time.

There is no evidence to support this proposal. I suspect that the Prime Minister will kick this bonkers idea into the long grass pretty soon. Drop it now.

6.55 pm

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Last week, the Justice Secretary showed us how out of touch he is with the women of this country, and this afternoon we have had a demonstration of how out of touch he is with communities on the issue of crime. In recent days, the Justice Secretary has said that he does not want to change sentences for serious crime, and he said that again this afternoon. He is playing word games with the public, however, because he knows perfectly well that under his proposals people could spend just one quarter of the sentence given to them by the judge in prison. The safety of our communities is too serious for us to play these word games.

No wonder the public lose trust in the system.

“many people feel that sentencing in Britain is dishonest and misleading.”

The Tories said that in their manifesto, and they promised to improve transparency; another broken promise. As my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) said, they promised to redevelop the prison estate and

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increase capacity. Instead, they are cutting the prison building programme. The one manifesto promise the Justice Secretary has fulfilled is to

“stop talking tough and meting out ever longer prison sentences”

That promise was in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto, of course.

My hon. Friends the Members for Llanelli and for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart)—the latter was an excellent Home Office Minister in the previous Government—have spoken of their concerns about the way the issue of rape was treated last week. That revealed that the ministerial team does not know the facts and does not know the law.

Unfortunately, most of the 1,000 rapes that are committed every week in this country are committed by partners and ex-partners. Also, the law has changed since the Secretary of State was practising at the bar in the last century, and he should know what it now is. Consensual sex between an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old is unlawful, but it is not rape.

The Labour Government ended cross-examination by assailants, and they ended questioning on people’s sexual pasts. The way to win the confidence of women in this country is not to cut the sentence for people convicted of rape; rather, it is to keep the specialist police, maintain local authority support for sexual assault referral centres, and listen to the groups and lawyers working with victims. The Ministry of Justice needs a woman in the team, and the Prime Minister should find one PDQ.

Many Members have spoken about the legacy that was left for the current Government. Government Members should remember that Labour cut crime by 43%, and cut reoffending by 15%. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) pointed out, the Labour Government understood the role that prison plays, which is why we increased the number of places by 26,000.

Everyone wants to cut reoffending and tackle the underlying problems, and the hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant) made an excellent speech on the issues faced by women offenders. The points she made highlight why we followed the recommendations in the Corston report and the Bradley report on prisoners with mental health problems, and why we invested £170 million in literacy and numeracy skills, and set up new workshops in prison.

Early guilty pleas can speed up trials and reduce the pressure on victims, but the real reason why the Government are going ahead is to save money, as the Secretary of State made clear. The Government’s own estimate is that a discount of up to 50% would reduce the number of prison places by 3,500 and save £130 million. The proposal in the Green Paper appears not in the section on victims, but under the heading

“Efficient, effective use of the courts.”

That is the real motivation. Of course cutting the deficit matters, but it is not the only thing that matters, and it is not possible to put a price on justice.

What is so radically wrong with the Government’s proposal to introduce a 50% discount for early guilty pleas is that it undermines the justice of the sentence

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that is finally served. Many criminals who would have pleaded guilty early anyway will benefit. Can the Minister tell us how many thousands of prisoners fall into that category? The Ministry of Justice estimates in its impact assessment that the average discount will rise from 25% to 34%, and that is totally unjustified.

As was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), the Chairman of the Select Committee on Justice, Ministers have produced no evidence to suggest that the proposal will affect the number of people pleading guilty early. Indeed, the Sentencing Council will say that the strength of prosecuting evidence is the crucial factor, and the Council of Her Majesty’s Circuit Judges feels that many offenders are

“irrational or dysfunctional and will not face up to the realities until the last possible moment.”

As the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) pointed out, short sentences are known to be ineffective—that is obviously why the Ministry of Justice wants to increase the number of people on them. Another problem with the proposal is that the reduction is formulaic, so those who have committed the worst offences get the biggest cuts in prison terms—that is simply not fair. This proposal will apply to terrorists and last week Lord Carlile said:

“The release of every prisoner convicted of a terrorist offence has a national security implication and the sooner they are released the greater the national security implication.”

The overwhelming problem is that the punishment will not fit the crime. My hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) and for Darlington (Mrs Chapman) pointed out that victims will feel let down and the public’s confidence will be shattered.

Claire Perry (Devizes) (Con): The hon. Lady speaks with her usual passion on this subject, but did she speak with this passion when the previous Government introduced a 33% discount for an early guilty plea?

Helen Goodman: The hon. Lady should have listened to the debate; we have gone through that argument already.

I want to move on to the important issue of the Secretary of State’s “rehabilitation revolution”. That is what he has promised, but the cuts programme he has agreed—23% over four years, with a loss of 10,000 prison and probation staff—will make it impossible. He says that he wants to increase the number of hours that prisoners work from 22 to 40, but his own impact assessment says that that will need more up-front capital and ongoing staff costs to supervise prisoners for longer. He has already cut £170 million from prisons, which means that prisoners will be locked up in their cells for longer. We are already seeing cuts to education and restorative justice work with offenders.

He says that he wants more community sentences, but effective community supervision is impossible with the huge cuts to the probation trusts. As the Chairman of the Select Committee pointed out, we need to reinvest in community supervision, but this year Nottingham’s probation trust faces a cut of 7%, and the trusts of Norfolk and Suffolk, Devon and Cornwall, and West Yorkshire face cuts of 7.2%, 7.8% and a staggering 9.8% respectively.

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The strategy is just not credible; nor are the Ministers. The year began with the prisons Minister standing in front of a burning prison as the third riot of his tenure took place. Last week, he said that “a moment’s reflection” would make it clear that giving half off a sentence would help to protect the public. He has now had a week’s reflection and we see from the Order Paper that the Government are stubbornly sticking to their policy. So I urge all hon. Members to reject the amendment and vote for the Opposition motion.

7.4 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): I am grateful for the chance to have a few minutes to reply to the debate and to present a set of arguments to explain why the Opposition motion is a good example of how not to debate or approach public policy in this area. It was my answer to a question here last Tuesday from the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) that led to the debate last week and, as that has developed and as we have heard this afternoon, there is a growing appreciation and understanding that the simplicity of the Opposition motion cannot do justice to the complexity of the issues and factors we must reconcile. The motion is outside any proper context and is premature, prejudging proper consideration of our policies as a whole. It is also rather instructive that it has come forward after a prompt from media coverage and the right hon. Gentleman. I would have thought that our policy inheritance from the previous Government would have given today’s Opposition Front-Bench team pause for thought before they tabled the motion.

A real reason for regret is that the Opposition motion indicates that a window might be closing on a unique opportunity for Parliament to show collective leadership in a difficult, complex area that is wide open to misrepresentation. We might be missing an opportunity to engage in a responsible debate and support a process in which policy is agreed on the basis of the evidence for its enduring benefit, not designed to deliver maximum short-term appeal, with evidence arranged to suit. Such support requires an exercise of principle and restraint from all of us.

Mr George Howarth rose

Mr Blunt: I must apologise to the right hon. Gentleman but in order to reply to those who have contributed to this debate, himself included, I will not be able to take interventions if I am to do justice to the speeches that have been made.

Last year, when the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) distinguished his leadership campaign, so successfully managed by the shadow Justice Secretary, by taking a sensible position on criminal justice, moving away from the populist approach of the previous 13 years, it was greeted with enormous relief by many Labour supporters with a deep and continuing interest in criminal justice. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Ben Gummer) reminded us, the right hon. Gentleman reiterated the position at his party conference speech immediately after his election as leader. So I hope sincerely that we can sustain a level of examination of these issues in this House that we can be proud of in the years to come and not just regret a unique period when we had a great chance of delivering a more effective criminal justice policy of some durability

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but bottled it. Happily, a number of speakers did actually make a constructive contribution this evening.

Karl Turner rose

Mr Blunt: As I have explained, if the hon. Gentleman wants me to reply to his remarks, I am not going to be able to give way.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) said that we did not know the facts, but I wish to use this occasion to correct one or two mistakes of the shadow Justice Secretary. First, sentences of imprisonment for public protection—IPPs—are not automatic for rape sentences. He was also not wholly accurate on the release conditions for all those 80,000 people released 18 days early; the process was automatic to a set of criteria and no individual risk assessment was carried out. The hon. Lady also referred to the cuts to the probation trusts, but they are Labour cuts; they are the plans that the probation trusts were putting in place and they were in place under the previous Administration with the establishment of the probation trusts in the first place.

The right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) complimented the style of the Secretary of State and I am grateful for that. He also drew attention to public attitudes in this area. My right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), who chairs the Justice Committee, made it clear that the aims of our policy were sensible, and I am grateful for that support. He raised perfectly proper questions about the detail of our proposals, and they will have to be properly addressed when our proposals are brought forward.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe) made a good contribution, accepting our sincerity, and I wish to compliment him on his. He agreed with the Lord Chancellor on wanting to see how this policy will be deployed in detail, but his contribution would have been more credible if he had been waiting for the policy to be considered in detail and not just supported the motion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) is, of course, wholly consistent in his position and I compliment him on that. I continue to be grateful to him for his attention to detail in this area and for putting us to a proper test of the evidence. He very properly raised issues about the effects of incarceration that must be addressed and we must consider the evidence from around the world. I have engaged with him on this issue and will continue to do so.

The hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) was just a little ungracious about our women offender policy. She was at the debate the other week, which was answered for me by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly) while I was visiting Wakefield prison, and she was at the reception for the Corston independent funders’ coalition at which I made it clear that we were continuing the policy that she and other Ministers had begun. Indeed, we have been complimented and congratulated by lobby groups in that area and I am grateful for the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant) in that regard, too.

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I am afraid that the hon. Member for Llanelli (Nia Griffith) totally misrepresented the views of my right hon. and learned Friend the Justice Secretary. My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) made a powerful contribution with strong words about the consequences of the sentencing policy we inherited. I appreciate her authoritative and strong support for the Green Paper proposals.

When we return after the Whitsun recess, the Government will present our response to the consultation on our proposals in “Breaking the Cycle” and at the same time we will publish our proposed legislation on legal aid and sentencing. We need to remember what we are trying to achieve by reinforcing our proposals for effective punishment and rehabilitation through our proposed legislative changes. The comprehensive package delivers appropriate punishment, which can carry confidence, of offenders in prison and the community. It sits with the delivery of public protection today through imprisonment and in the community through curfews, tagging, oversight and reporting requirements and with the delivery of public protection tomorrow through breaking the cycle of crime for today’s offenders with effective rehabilitation and early intervention to help prevent people from becoming offenders in the first place, getting proper restoration for victims from offenders and supporting victims and witnesses through the justice process. An important element of that involves obtaining more and earlier guilty pleas.

The merits of an early guilty plea are substantial and bring a number of discrete benefits. The first is early relief for the victim as the ordeal of the crime and of reporting it will not be compounded by months of waiting to give evidence with all the attendant anxiety. Secondly, taking some of the pressure off victims and witnesses will enable us to bring more offenders to justice. Thirdly, the police can make savings in investigatory time and effort and the Crown Prosecution Service can save considerable process time. Fourthly, the offender will possibly make considered reparation to the victim, perhaps through a restorative justice process that can deliver a measure of real accountability to the victim as well as to society. Fifthly, there will be earlier identification and engagement with appropriate rehabilitation to address the underlying causes of offending behaviour. Sixthly, of course, the administration of justice is an expensive obligation for the taxpayer and the state and if offenders co-operate with that process from the earliest opportunity, the taxpayer is saved expense, which must be welcome in this financial climate.

What we do here is for the future, and I have not seen it better expressed than it was last week by a student, Felix Danczak, writing in Cambridge university’s Varsity newspaper:

“Debate drives society—it is only through engaging with issues that we progress, gain new understanding and recognise nuance. Vilifying Mr Clarke, without a prior critical engagement with the issues at stake, is to leave us at the mercy of a polity driven only by the fear of scandal, unwilling to make substantive changes lest their rolling heads be paraded above the fold. If we want change, if we want positive development in society, we too need to recognise the importance of complexity.”

We have a duty to that generation that we will abrogate if we do not rise to the challenge of the complexity of

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policy in this area. The motion does not do that and if the Opposition insist on pressing it to a Division, I must ask the House to resist it.

Question put (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the original words stand part of the Question.

The House divided:

Ayes 221, Noes 303.

Division No. 284]

[7.14 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Bell, Sir Stuart

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, rh Mr Gordon

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Mr Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Philip

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Tessa

Joyce, Eric

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lloyd, Tony

Lucas, Ian

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Main, Mrs Anne

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Mr Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Mitchell, Austin

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Pearce, Teresa

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Hendrick and

Phil Wilson


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Chishti, Rehman

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Mr Roger

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, Robert

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hollingbery, George

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Mr Edward

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lucas, Caroline

Luff, Peter

Macleod, Mary

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Milton, Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, David

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Philip Dunne and

Norman Lamb

Question accordingly negatived.

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Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added.

Question agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to (Standing Order No. 31(2)).


That this House deplores the previous Government’s failure to tackle the national scandal of reoffending and its mismanagement of the justice system; notes that discounts for guilty pleas have been an established principle of common law for decades, and that they can speed up justice and spare victims and witnesses the ordeal of waiting and preparing to give evidence at trial; and welcomes the Government’s intention to overhaul sentencing to deliver more effective punishment for offenders and increased reparation for victims and to reform offenders to cut crime.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Would Members leaving the Chamber do so quickly and quietly, please, so that we can start the next debate? [Interruption.] Private conversations are good, but preferably outside the Chamber.

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Policing and Crime

7.31 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House opposes the Government’s cuts leading to over 12,000 fewer police officers across England and Wales; believes that the 20 per cent. cut to central Government funding to the police goes far beyond the assessment of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary of efficiency savings that are possible without affecting frontline services; calls on the Government to withdraw plans for American-style police and crime commissioners for which there will be no checks or balances; and believes that the Government is making it harder for the police to cut crime by weakening the National DNA Database, leading to the loss of 1,000 criminal matches per year; ending anti-social behaviour orders, increasing bureaucracy on CCTV, creating serious loopholes in child protection and failing to develop any cross-Governmental strategy to cut crime.

This is our fourth debate on policing and crime on the Floor of the House in the past four months. Time and again we have warned the Home Secretary that she is stirring up a perfect storm on crime. Time and again we have warned the Prime Minister that he is making the wrong decisions on law and order, and they are still not listening. The Home Secretary is not listening to the warning words from chief constables across the country. She is not listening to the cries from communities such as All Saints in Wolverhampton, where hundreds of people have signed a petition to keep their local bobby on the beat. She is not listening to the public telling pollsters and researchers that they do not trust her party on crime. As she showed at the police conference last week, she also is not listening to the silence.

The storm we warned of is building. Cuts to police officer numbers are being felt. Front-line services that the Home Secretary promised to protect are being hit. There are cuts to youth services and family intervention projects that were helping to bring crime down. There is higher youth unemployment and poverty is rising. There are cuts to the powers that the police and courts need, and chaos in her policing reforms. American-style police and crime commissioners were rejected by the House of Lords for putting centuries of impartial British policing at risk.

Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) (Con): The right hon. Lady speaks of the Government not listening. Will she now listen to the Justice Department, whose statistics show that antisocial behaviour orders do not work? They are seen as a badge of honour, and three quarters of ASBOs are breached. Were Labour to come back into power, would she retract Labour’s claims?

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman’s concern about antisocial behaviour would be rather more convincing if he were criticising the cut of 250 officers and staff in his area. Antisocial behaviour orders are not right in every situation, but he obviously has not talked to police officers such as those I have spoken to in Wakefield or the community residents I have spoken to in Blackpool, who would tell him of case after case where antisocial behaviour orders have worked, have made a difference and are fighting antisocial behaviour in their communities. They are appalled at the Government’s decision.

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Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys) (Con): When the shadow Home Secretary was in Blackpool, did she join in welcoming the decision by the Lancashire constabulary to increase community policing in Blackpool, as it recently announced?

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman knows that while every chief constable across the country is trying to do everything they can to get as many police as possible out into neighbourhoods, the Lancashire constabulary is already being hit by cuts to front-line policing. The chief constable has raised his concerns about the cuts to front-line policing, including hundreds of officers and staff in his area.

Paul Maynard rose

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con) rose

Yvette Cooper: I am delighted to give way to another hon. Member on the Government Benches, but their points would be more credible if they would tell us that they would put the cuts to police officers in their constituencies on their leaflets at the next election.

Mr Jackson: I am grateful for the campaigning advice from the right hon. Lady. Does she think one would have to be cynical to be perplexed by the fact that before the general election, her right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) was not prepared under any circumstances to name the percentage decrease in the budget for the police, but since the general election he just happens to agree with Her Majesty’s inspector of constabulary on a 12% figure? Is that cynical, or does it reflect the fact that the Labour party has no policy on cuts in the police service?

Yvette Cooper: I am afraid the hon. Gentleman’s facts are wrong. In fact, the former Home Secretary set out in November, before the election, areas where he believed reductions in the budget for the police could be made, which would come from efficiency savings. That is why he backed a 12% reduction, which was supported by HMIC, not a 20% reduction, which is hitting thousands and thousands of police officers across the country and putting front-line services at risk right across the country. Senior police chiefs are deeply troubled by chaotic changes to national policing, and police morale is at rock bottom. Members on the Government Benches are deeply out of touch if they think their constituents want to see 12,000 police officers across the country go.

Claire Perry (Devizes) (Con): The right hon. Lady references the former Home Secretary’s comments about policing. He also said that officer numbers would fall under the spending programme proposed by Labour. The shadow Chancellor said that there would be reductions in non-uniformed police staff. What cuts and what staff numbers would she envisage under Labour’s deficit reduction plans?

Yvette Cooper: We have been here before. We have had this debate before. There is a clear difference between our plans and the Government’s. We said yes, there would be reductions—[Interruption.]—and that that would mean being able to maintain the number of police officers and police community support officers across the country and being able to maintain, as HMIC said, front-line services across the country. [Interruption.]

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Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. It is one thing to make an intervention; it is quite another for Members to carry on shouting once an hon. Member has resumed her seat. There will be plenty of opportunity for Members to take part in the debate if we can make progress.

Yvette Cooper: The noise on the Government Benches conveys Members’ desperation about the cuts being made to police officer numbers in their constituencies right across the country. The difference is that we said yes, cuts of about £1 billion would need to be made over the course of the Parliament; their Front-Bench team is making cuts of £2 billion, with the steepest cuts in the first few years. That is why we are seeing 12,000 officers go and front-line services being hit.

The storm will not go away. It will keep building. The Prime Minister may think he can make it go away by finally making a speech on crime in the next few weeks—his first since the Government began—just to show that he is taking the grip that he clearly thinks the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary lack. But it is too late for tough rhetoric, because communities across the country are already facing a tough reality—12,000 police officers to go.

How can the Government have got so out of touch on law on order? Many people have claimed that the Prime Minister just doesn’t get it—that he is out of touch and does not understand the fear of crime in communities across the country. It is true that crime is lower in Witney than in Wakefield, but one would have thought that the Prime Minister had plenty of experience of antisocial behaviour in his street. Surely the Defence Secretary must be the first candidate for an ASBO after throwing brickbats at the International Development Secretary and the Chancellor. The Business Secretary may need an injunction for throwing brickbats at himself.

The Justice Secretary has clearly been causing carnage wandering unmonitored through the TV studios. The Prime Minister should tag him at least, although Downing street probably thinks he is rather better locked up. The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should serve a community sentence, replanting trees, and the Deputy Prime Minister is clearly regarded now as a nuisance neighbour. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is the only one the Government can count on to be supportive—he is only person rather pleased to see the cuts to the traffic cops. The entire Cabinet is in desperate need of a family intervention project. What a shame the Government have cut those!

Time and again we have warned in the House of the serious consequences of cutting 12,000 officers. Let us look at the evidence: domestic violence units cut in Hampshire, officers in sexual offences teams forced out in London, traffic cops cut in Manchester, fire arms officers cut in Nottingham, CCTV officers cut in Merseyside, neighbourhood police cut in Birmingham and—get this—in Kent the police have told us that surveillance officers have been called off their targets after six-hour shifts because of overtime cuts. I presume that as part of the big society the Home Secretary has kindly asked criminals to keep their misdemeanours to office hours.

Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton) (Con): Will the right hon. Lady at least turn her attention to London, where the Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson,

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through judicious management of his finances, is on course to increase the number of police officers by 1,000 by next year?

Yvette Cooper: Judicious only until the mayoral election, after which the number will be cut. The Mayor has realised, as Government Members everywhere else in the country seem not to have done, that the public do not like police cuts, so of course he is pretending to put the numbers up, having seen them fall already since the election.

Government Members tell us that all these problems will be solved by cutting bureaucracy, but even the Home Secretary’s most optimistic claims are to save the equivalent of 1,200 police officers in several years’ time. Unfortunately, she is cutting 12,000 officers now. As for the A19s, you couldn’t make it up, with up to 2,000 experienced officers being forced to take early retirement. Chief constables are being put in an impossible position, forced to use A19s to make the savings that their forces need. However, now we see, with the calculations from the House of Commons Library, that when we take into account the lost tax and pension contributions that those police officers and police authorities were making, forcing those officers to retire early will actually cost the taxpayer more. Tens of millions of pounds spent and thousands fewer experienced officers on the beat—how on earth does that fight crime?

Michael Ellis (Northampton North) (Con): Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Yvette Cooper: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman if he can answer that question.

Michael Ellis: I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Lady, who is being generous in giving way. Will she accept that Labour would be cutting £7 for every £8 cut under the Government’s proposals, that it is completely unacceptable for the police, as Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has reported, to have only 11% of police officers on duty and available to the public at any one time, and that by cutting bureaucracy more police can be put on the streets, rather than filling in forms in the police stations?

Yvette Cooper: It is right to keep working hard to cut bureaucracy, but the hon. Gentleman is out of touch with the reality of what is happening across the country. In west Yorkshire, for example, the police are now having to go back to their offices between incidents to deal with the bureaucracy themselves because of the scale of the cuts, whereas previously they could ring in with the details of an offence or incident that they had attended. In the west midlands and Warwickshire, time and again police officers are having to do more paperwork and bureaucracy because of the scale of the Government’s cuts.

It is not just the cuts that are causing the problems: the Government are also making it harder for the police and communities to fight crime. As a result of the DNA restrictions, the police estimate that there are 1,000 fewer criminal matches every year, including for serious offenders. It means not holding DNA at all in up to three quarters of rape cases, where charges are ultimately not brought, and we know the difficulties in rape cases.

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On CCTV, the new code of practice means a bubble wrap of bureaucracy, with more checks and balances on a single camera than the Government are introducing for police and crime commissioners, yet the Home Secretary knows the benefits that CCTV can bring. They have just installed CCTV at Twyford train station in her constituency. Did she complain then that they had not done an impact assessment on the environment, privacy or disproportionality or introduce safeguards, as her code of practice required? No. She congratulated the station manager, saying that people needed the

“added reassurance that they can travel in safety”.

Too right they do, and they do not want too much bureaucracy to prevent them from getting the reassurance they need.

Mark Tami (Alyn and Deeside) (Lab): Before my right hon. Friend moves on from CCTV, I wonder how many Members of this House have had constituents come to them demanding that CCTV be removed? I am sure that every Member has had large numbers of people come to them asking for more CCTV, rather than less.

Yvette Cooper: My hon. Friend is right. CCTV can make a difference for communities that are struggling, such as the community in Blackpool that I talked with a few weeks ago, who told me about the difference that having CCTV installed has made on their estate, where they had had persistent problems. CCTV was helping them to turn it around.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): The right hon. Lady may have heard the Justice Secretary say in the previous debate how important it was from the Government’s perspective to prevent people from having to be witnesses and give evidence in court and how distressing that was. Does she therefore agree with me, and I presume with the Justice Secretary, and recognise the role that DNA and CCTV play in preventing witnesses and victims having to go through the trauma of giving evidence?

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman is right, and I know that he has spent considerable time looking at the issue of DNA. When the police analysed the offences in 2008-09—just one year’s worth of offences—they found that there were 79 matches for very serious crimes, including murder, manslaughter and rape, which they would not have got had it not been for the DNA database. The concern is about not holding DNA for people who are not charged, even though they might have been suspected of a very serious offence and where the reason for not charging may not be that they are now thought to be innocent, but simply that there are difficulties, as, perhaps in a rape case—we know it is sometimes difficult to take such a case through the criminal justice system.

The Government are out of touch with their plans to end antisocial behaviour orders. The Home Secretary has said that she wants to end ASBOs because she is worried that they are being breached, but what is her answer? Her answer is to replace them with a much weaker injunction, with greater delays, which offenders can breach as many times as they like. She is removing the criminal enforcement for serious breaches of ASBOs and removing interim ASBOs altogether, making it much harder for communities, police and local authorities

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to get urgent action when serious cases arise. No matter how many times an offender breaches the new crime prevention injunctions or ignores the warnings of the police, they will still not get a criminal penalty. They are not so much a badge of honour as a novelty wrist band. How does that help communities that want to see antisocial behaviour brought down?

The area that I worry about most is child protection. The Home Secretary has now been advised that there are serious loopholes in her plans—by the Children’s Commissioner, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Children’s Society, Action for Children, the Scout Association, the Football Association, the Lawn Tennis Association and countless other national sporting bodies. Her plans still mean that someone could be barred from working with children and yet still get part-time or voluntary work in a school or children’s sports club and the organisation would not even be told that they had been barred. She really must stop and think again on this or she will be putting children at risk.

Time and again the Home Secretary is undermining the powers of the police and the authorities to fight crime. Time and again she is telling them to fight with one hand behind their backs. Worrying signs are already emerging. In Yorkshire, the police are saying that their figures show that crime has gone up this year. In the west midlands it is the same. Over the 13 years of the Labour Government, crime fell by 40%. The risk of being a victim of crime is now at its lowest since the British crime survey began and there is rising confidence in the police, but people want crime to keep falling. She is putting that at risk.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): The right hon. Lady has confirmed that she agrees with the independent inspectorate of constabulary that £1 billion-worth of savings can be made to the police without affecting front-line services. Could she share with the House what challenges she made to the Home Office budget when she was Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008-09 to remove this inefficiency?

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman will find that the Home Office made efficiency savings every year, and we can always rely on Chief Secretaries continually to press for them. Before the election, the then Home Secretary set out in the 2009 pre-Budget report, the 2010 Budget and in the policing White Paper a series of areas where, yes, savings could be made. It is right to make savings, but it is also right to ensure that we give the police enough resources to fight crime and to protect the public in their areas.

The Government tell us that they have no choice. That is rubbish. They have made a choice to put the Tory party’s political timetable for deficit reduction ahead of keeping the public safe. They have made a choice to roll back police officers, because they do not believe in public sector action. They are hitting jobs in the economy, but they are hitting law and order, too.

This policy is driven by ideology, not by necessity. The Government are fighting the police rather than fighting crime, and they are making life easier for offenders and harder for victims of crime. They have turned their backs on communities, they are out of touch on crime and justice, and communities throughout the country will pay the price.

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7.50 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): The Opposition’s motion is wrong in every point of fact and wrong on every point of policy. Given that they seem to have so little knowledge or understanding of policing and crime, let me deal with each of their points in turn.

First, the motion says that the Government are cutting 12,000 police officers throughout England and Wales. Of course, that is not Government policy. Decisions on the size and make-up of the police work force are a matter entirely for chief constables to take locally in conjunction with their police authority and, from May 2012, with their police and crime commissioner.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): Can the right hon. Lady say exactly how much money is being cut from budgets that are going to police authorities?

Mrs May: I think the hon. Gentleman asks me how much money is being cut from budgets to police authorities. The average cut this year in real terms from central Government funding for police is 5.5%, but each police force area raises funds through the precept.

I heard the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the shadow Home Secretary, complain when I made the point that decisions on police numbers are a matter for chief constables, yet in an interview with the New Statesman on 11 January she said that

“decisions will be taken and that is always going to be a matter for chief constables.”

So, she agrees that such decisions are taken by the police authority and the chief constable together.

Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary says in its most recent report that the size of the work force gives no indication whatever of the quality of service a force provides to its community, and that is because of all those officers who are sat behind desks, filling in forms and giving no benefit to the public. What matters is the visibility and availability of officers and the effective use of resources, and many forces are increasing availability.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Angie Bray) made the point about the increased number of police officers under the Mayor of London, an elected individual responsible for policing in London. In Gloucestershire, the police force has put 15% more sergeants and constables into visible policing roles while reducing overall numbers, and by doing that in Gloucestershire it is increasing the number of police officers on the beat from 563 to 651.

Mark Tami: What does the right hon. Lady think she is doing to the morale of those people who work in the back office when she constantly decries the work that they do?

Mrs May: There are a number of roles in policing, and we have been absolutely clear about that, but we are absolutely clear also that some of those people working in police force back offices have to spend significant amounts of time filling in paperwork—imposed by the previous Labour Government—which is taking up valuable time and effort. I shall deal with that issue further in a few minutes.

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In London, alongside the new recruitment of police officers in the Metropolitan police area, the Met is also getting more officers to patrol alone, rather than in pairs, and better matching resources to demand, thereby increasing officer availability to the public by 25%.

Given that the Opposition are getting their facts wrong, let us look at the real facts.

Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op): Does the right hon. Lady agree that, on reflection, increasing the cuts from Labour’s proposed 12% to 20% is a false economy? It will critically impact on the number of front-line officers, and the cost of increased crime will be much greater than the savings to police forces, so should not she go back to the drawing board?

Mrs May: No. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s argument at all, and in a few minutes I will address exactly that point about funding.

Let us look at the facts. Our police forces understood perfectly well that they would have had to make reductions in staff numbers no matter which party was in power. The Home Affairs Committee, chaired by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), found that almost all police forces were predicting future staff losses by January 2010—months before the election. In fact, 21 police forces—almost half of all police forces—saw falling officer numbers in the five years up to March 2010, when we had a Labour Government.

Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) said, when Labour’s last Home Secretary was asked during the election campaign whether he could guarantee that police numbers would not fall under Labour, he answered no. The right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson) understood that he could not guarantee police numbers, so why is the right hon. Lady not so straight with the public?

Mark Tami: If, as the right hon. Lady says, every party knew about the issue before the previous election, why did the Liberal Democrats promise 3,000 extra police?

Mrs May: I suggest that, instead of trying to look across to Government Members, the hon. Gentleman asks his Front Benchers why they got this country into such a financial mess that we have had to be elected as a coalition Government to clear it up: two parties, working together to clear up the mess left by one.

The Opposition’s mistake on the first point in their motion is linked to their mistake on the second point. They are simply wrong to suggest that the cuts that the Government are having to make that go further—cuts, let me remind them again, as I just have, that we are having to make because of the disastrous economic position that they left us in—

Geraint Davies: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs May: If the hon. Gentleman waits, he will find that I am about to come on to the point that he made in his first intervention.

Andrew Bridgen: There is a police station earmarked for closure in my constituency that is completely inefficient and unsuitable for modern policing. Local alternatives are cheaper and provide more community access, but is

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it not a sad indictment that such inefficient buildings are still being used, and is it not better to cut inefficient buildings rather than front-line policing?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes a very important point, and the sadness of the Opposition’s position is that they would not be making such very important decisions that can lead to a better and improved service to the public. I commend my hon. Friend’s local force for being willing to make such decisions.

I said that I would respond to the hon. Member for Swansea West (Geraint Davies) on the difference between the 12% cuts, which HMIC suggested could be made, and the Government’s cuts. He and other Opposition Members who have raised the point in the past, including the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, have obviously neither read nor understood the HMIC report, so let me tell them what it said.

HMIC found that more than £1.15 billion per year—12% of national police funding—could be saved if only the least efficient police forces brought themselves up to the average level of efficiency. Well, the state of the public finances that Labour left us is such that all forces must raise themselves up to the level not of the average but of the most efficient forces. That could add another £350 million of savings to those calculated in HMIC’s report. But HMIC did not consider all areas of police spending. It did not consider IT or procurement, for example, and it makes absolutely no sense for the police to procure things in 43 different ways, and it makes absolutely no sense to have 2,000 different IT systems throughout the 43 forces, as they currently do.

With a national joined-up approach, better contracts, more joint purchasing, a smaller number of different IT systems and greater private sector involvement, we can save hundreds of millions of pounds—over and above the savings identified by HMIC.

Likewise, HMIC did not consider pay, because that was outside its remit, but in an organisation such as the police, where £11 billion—80% of total revenue spending—goes on pay, there is no question but that pay restraint and pay reform must form part of the package. That is why we believe, subject to any recommendations from the Police Negotiating Board, that there should be a two-year pay freeze in policing, just as there has been across the public sector. That would save at least £350 million—again, on top of HMIC’s savings.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): I know that being in opposition is difficult, but I really hope we were not as bad as that lot over there during our time in opposition.

Would it not be possible to have a royal commission on police terms and conditions? The police do a wonderful job, and we need to maintain high morale and ensure that they do not bear a disproportionate burden of the cuts that we have to make as a result of the financial mismanagement of the Labour Government.

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes an important point about the behaviour of the Opposition today.

On the proposal about the royal commission, the cuts we have to make and the timetable within which we have to make them means that we have to make decisions now. However, we are not just making those decisions

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as a Government. I set up the independent review into police pay, terms and conditions under Tom Winsor, who has produced his first report. The proposals from that report are now going through the Police Negotiating Board, and decisions will be taken by the Government once those proper processes have been gone through. At the beginning of next year, he will report on the second part of his review. I felt that it was important for the police that we ensured that an independent reviewer looked at these issues who could fully take into account the impact of all the changes.

I remind any hon. Members who are considering the royal commission proposal that in its report last summer HMIC said, in very stark terms, that there is no time for a royal commission because of the nature of the decisions that have to be taken and the speed at which they have to be taken.

Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab): The police represent the best of public services. They work tirelessly, they sign up to no-strike agreements, and they cancel leave at a moment’s notice to deal with murder or any violent crime. Do they not deserve, therefore, to be given a royal commission on pay and conditions and not to be treated as another victim of Government cuts?

Mrs May: The hon. Lady is right. We have the best police force in the world and the best model of policing in the world. I believe that the British model of policing is one that we should welcome, support and applaud. However, if she thinks that there is time for a royal commission, she should consider why, as a member of the Labour party, she allowed it, when in government, to get the finances of this country into such a state that we need to take the action that we do. [ Interruption. ] It is all very well for Opposition Members to say, “Oh no, we don’t want to hear it again”, but if the hon. Lady’s party were in government today, it would be cutting £7 for every £8 we are cutting this year.

Gavin Barwell (Croydon Central) (Con): Last Thursday, PC Nigel Albuery was stabbed on duty on the streets of Croydon. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we have to look at the issue of police terms and conditions, but does she agree that we should consider the results of the Winsor review in the light of the dangers that police officers such as PC Albuery face day to day and the debt of gratitude we owe to them?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is absolutely right; we will indeed do that. I take this opportunity to commend PC Albuery, who suffered terrible injuries, as result of which he is in a serious condition. He was doing the job that he signed up to do, which is protecting the public and dealing with criminals. I pay tribute to him and to all the other officers who, day in and day out, go out to deal with instances and incidents that take place not knowing whether they will be subject to the sort of attack to which PC Albuery was subject.

Mr Anderson: Raoul Moat began his killing spree in my constituency, a mile from my house. Twenty-four hours later, he damaged PC David Rathband to the extent that that man will never see again. Last week, at the Police Federation, he asked the Home Secretary, “Do you think I’m paid too much?”, to which she replied, “I’m not saying to any individual officer that your pay is wrong.” Just what is she saying to all police officers?

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Mrs May: I am saying to all police officers that we value the work that they are doing, though it is important that we look at their pay terms and conditions, which have not been changed significantly for some time. We need to ensure that we have a modern, flexible work force in the police who can take us forward in the policing that we need today in the 21st century. That is why I thought it important to set up an independent review. We will look at the results of the proper processes that that independent review report is going through with the Police Negotiating Board.

I have set out a number of areas in which it is possible to make savings over and above those identified in the HMIC report in areas, such as increasing efficiency, IT, procurement, and a pay freeze. Together, these savings amount to £2.2 billion a year—more than the £2.1 billion real-terms reduction in central Government funding to the police. Even that ignores the local precept contribution from council tax payers, which independent forecasts suggest will rise by £382 million, or 12%, over the comprehensive spending review period.

Yvette Cooper: If the Home Secretary is so confident in her savings figures, why does she think that chief constables from across the country, including in Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Kent and Norfolk, are all saying that front-line services will be hit as a result of her cuts, and why are 12,000 officers going?

Mrs May: Chief constables up and down the country are giving a commitment to maintaining the quality of their front-line services. The chief constables of Gloucestershire, Kent and Thames Valley, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, are all saying that they have a commitment to ensuring front-line services.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): Is my right hon. Friend aware that the chief constable of Staffordshire has reorganised the back office of his operation and organised his local policing units to ensure that no front-line services are cut in Staffordshire? In fact, in Tamworth we have an extra bobby on the beat. That is no thanks to the Opposition, who are forcing us to make these cuts.

Mrs May: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. The chief constable of Staffordshire is another chief constable who is committed to protecting front-line and neighbourhood policing and ensuring that he does so in a way that makes sense and introduces greater efficiency in several areas. The problem with the position taken by the Opposition is that they do not want to see any change of any sort in policing, and yet there are chief constables out there who know that a transformation of policing is what is needed in the circumstances that we find ourselves in. In many cases, as has been evidenced by my hon. Friends, we may see an improvement in the service that is given to people.

Yvette Cooper: Then what does the right hon. Lady say to the chief constable of Lancashire, who says,

“we cannot leave the frontline untouched and that is because of the scale of the cuts”;

to the chief constable of South Yorkshire, who has said,

“we will be unable to continue to provide the level of service that we do today in such areas as neighbourhood policing”;

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to the chief constable of Kent, who said that 20% is

“a significant drawback into police numbers, both civilian staff and police numbers, and clearly there's a potential impact that crime will rise”;

and to the chief constable of Norfolk, who says that given the scale of the cuts,

“Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary…report confirms what we have always maintained, that…the constabulary will have to reduce its front line over the next four years”?

Her policing Minister has said that he likes chief constables who stay quiet. Does she want to gag the chief constables of Lancashire, South Yorkshire, Kent and Norfolk, or does she think they are doing a bad job?

Mrs May: A number of those chief constables, including the chief constable of Kent, have made it absolutely clear that they are going to protect neighbourhood policing. Perhaps the right hon. Lady should reflect on the evidence given by the chief constable of Greater Manchester to the Home Affairs Committee, when he said that an artificial numbers game had been necessary under the last Labour Government, with the result that some officers were being put into back-office roles that need not be undertaken by officers.

Crucially, all the savings that I have set out can be made while protecting the quality of front-line services. At the same time, as I have made clear in response to several interventions, we are reviewing police pay, terms and conditions to make them fair to police officers and to the taxpayer. If implemented, Tom Winsor’s proposals to reform police pay and conditions will help the service to manage its budgets, maximise officer and staff deployment to front-line roles, and enable front-line services to be maintained and improved.

Mr Charles Walker: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs May: I am going to make a little progress.

Mr Walker: It is a microscopic intervention.

Mrs May: I will complete this point and then I might be generous to my hon. Friend.

Winsor proposes rewarding those with specialist skills, those who work unsocial hours, and those who are on the front line. His proposals are comprehensive, wide-ranging and far-reaching. They are things that the Labour party never had the guts to do. Given that the Labour party would be cutting £7 in every £8 that we are cutting this year, the shadow Home Secretary needs to tell the House where her cuts would fall.

Mr Walker: My right hon. Friend is as wise, charming and insightful as ever. However, I think that the Winsor review is a trifle too aggressive on police terms and conditions, and I hope that she will bear those concerns in mind when independently reviewing Winsor’s recommendations.

Mrs May: There is indeed a process that is taking place in relation to the proposals of the Winsor review. The proposals are before the Police Negotiating Board at the moment, and there will be a proper process to consider its decisions. My hon. Friend will have noticed that the Winsor review identified significant savings

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that could be made by changing the terms and conditions, and then proposed to plough half that sum back into improved pay and terms and conditions for the police.

We want not only to manage the cuts that we are having to make, but to make the police service better. The Labour Government spent a lot of money on policing in the boom years, but they spent it all on making simple things very complicated. They made an industry out of performance management and league tables; created a forest of guidance, manuals and pointless paperwork; and hugely increased the number of bureaucrats, auditors and checkers. At the same time, they did nothing to increase police visibility, nothing to increase public accountability and nothing to reform and modernise the service. We are putting that right. We are slashing the bureaucracy that Labour allowed to build up.

Earlier this month, I announced measures that would save up to 2.5 million man hours of police time each year. That is on top of the measures that we have already taken to scrap all Labour’s targets and restore discretion to the police. We have got rid of the policing pledge, the confidence target, the public service agreement targets, the key performance indicators and the local area agreements. We have replaced them with a single objective: to cut crime. I want police officers chasing criminals, not chasing targets. The Government do not put their trust in performance indicators, targets or regulations. We put our trust in the professionals and in the public.

Let me address the third fallacy in the Opposition motion. Police and crime commissioners are not an American-style reform; they are a very British and very democratic reform. The Labour party certainly did not consider democratic accountability to be an alien concept when the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) said in 2008, when he was the Minister for Policing, Crime and Security, that

“only direct election, based on geographic constituencies, will deliver the strong connection to the public which is critical”.

I could not agree more.

Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab): What did we do?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman asks what the previous Government did. Well, they did nothing. They said they wanted democratic accountability and then did absolutely nothing about it. I say to him that if democracy is good enough for this House, it is good enough for police accountability.

Andrew Bridgen: My right hon. Friend might remember that the last Labour Government did have plans for policing reform. Indeed, they proposed that police forces should merge and spent some £12 million of taxpayers’ money, only ultimately to abort the plans. Does that not show scant regard for the spending of taxpayers’ money?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend makes a valid and important point about the attitude of the previous Government.

Our reforms are based on the simple premise that the police must be accountable not to civil servants in Whitehall, but to the communities that they serve. That is exactly what directly elected police and crime commissioners will achieve. The legislation for police and crime commissioners has passed through this House and has entered Committee in the other place. We will

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seek to overturn the recent Lords amendment when the Bill returns to this House. Unlike the existing invisible and ineffective police authorities, the commissioner will be somebody people have heard of, somebody they have voted for, somebody they can hold to account, and somebody they can vote out if they do not help the police to cut crime.

We now come to the Opposition’s fourth error. It is complete and utter nonsense to suggest there will be no checks and balances on the powers of police and crime commissioners. We have specifically legislated for strong checks and balances. A police and crime panel will scrutinise the police and crime commissioner. The panel will have several key powers, including the power of veto over the police and crime commissioner’s proposed local precept and over the candidate they propose for chief constable. The panel will also make recommendations on local police and crime plans, and will scrutinise the commissioner’s annual report. It will have the power to ask the commissioner to provide information and to sit before it to answer questions. It will also be able to call on Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary for professional judgment over the police and crime commissioner’s proposed decision to dismiss a chief constable.

We have published a draft protocol setting out the relationship between police and crime commissioners and chief constables. The protocol was agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Association of Police Authorities, the Association of Police Authority Chief Executives, the Met and the Metropolitan Police Authority. A copy has been placed in both House Libraries and copies are available on the Home Office website. The protocol makes it clear that commissioners will not manage police forces, and that they will not be permitted to interfere in the day-to-day work of police officers. The duty and responsibility of managing a police force will fall squarely on the shoulders of the chief constable, as it always has.

We will publish a strategic policing requirement to ensure that commissioners deliver their national policing responsibilities, as well as their local responsibilities. A strengthened HMIC will monitor forces and escalate serious concerns about force performance to Ministers. Finally, the Home Secretary will retain powers to direct police and crime commissioners and chief constables to take action in extreme circumstances, if they are failing to carry out their functions.

The Opposition are simply wrong to say that there will be no checks and balances on police and crime commissioners. There will be extensive checks and balances—the Opposition just choose to ignore them. Of course, unlike the current invisible and unaccountable police authorities, police and crime commissioners will face the strongest and most powerful check and balance there is: the ballot box. This should be a concept with which the Labour party is familiar: if they fail, they get booted out of office.

I will turn to police powers. The police national DNA database, which was established in 1995, has clearly led to a great many criminals being convicted who otherwise would not have been caught. However, in a democracy, there must be limits to any such form of police power. Storing the DNA and fingerprints of more than a million innocent people indefinitely only undermines public trust in policing. We will take innocent people off

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the DNA database and put guilty people on. While the previous Government were busy stockpiling the DNA of the innocent, they did not bother to take the DNA of the guilty. In March, we gave the police new powers to take DNA from convicted criminals who are now in the community.

Rather than engaging in political posturing, we are making the right reforms for the right reasons. Our proposals will ensure that there is fairness for innocent people by removing the majority of them from the database. By increasing the number of convicted individuals on the database, we will ensure that those who have broken the law can be traced if they reoffend. In all cases, the DNA profile and fingerprints of any person arrested for a recordable offence will be subjected to a speculative search against the national databases. That means that those who have committed crimes in the past and have left their DNA or fingerprints at the scene will not escape justice. The rules will give the police the tools that they need, without putting the DNA of millions of innocent people on the database.

Like DNA, it is clear that CCTV can act as a deterrent to criminals, can help to convict the guilty, and is warmly welcomed by many communities. The Government wholeheartedly support the use of CCTV and DNA to fight crime. However, it is clearly not right that surveillance cameras are being used without proper safeguards. When or where to use CCTV are properly decisions for local areas. It is essential that such measures command public support and confidence. Our proposals for a code of practice will help to achieve just that. If the Opposition disagree, as was clear from the speech by the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, perhaps they should cast their minds back to the controversy over the use of CCTV cameras in Birmingham in the last year. British policing relies on consent. If that is lost, we all suffer. Sadly, the Opposition do not seem to understand that.

Philip Davies: I hope I am right in sensing that my right hon. Friend is moving back from the left-wing, liberty agenda on DNA and CCTV. The police installed 14 cameras in what used to be a no-go area of east Leeds. Within 18 months, that led to crime falling by 48% and burglaries falling by 65%. Will she confirm that that did not restrict anybody’s freedoms, but enhanced them by allowing people to go out at night, which is a freedom that they had been deprived of for many years?

Mrs May: I thank my hon. Friend. As I said earlier, the Government wholeheartedly support the use of CCTV and DNA in the fight against crime. We are introducing not unnecessary bureaucracy but a sensible and measured approach, which will help to ensure that CCTV is used for the purpose for which it was designed—tackling crime.

Mr Ellwood: Will my right hon. Friend say a word or two about Criminal Records Bureau checks? We had a case in Bournemouth in which a teacher from one school was not allowed to drive a minibus for another school, to which her children went, because of CRB checks. That seems a mad situation, and I hope it can be rectified.

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Mrs May: I thank my hon. Friend for that point, and I will come on to vetting and barring once I have covered the issue of antisocial behaviour, because every aspect of the Opposition’s motion is wrong.

Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): What effect does the right hon. Lady think her cuts will have on counter-terrorism, given that, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State said, chief constables will not be able to provide 24-hour policing for such matters?

Mrs May: I remind the hon. Gentleman that we have protected the counter-terrorism policing budget, because we recognised the importance of that.

The next mistake in Labour’s motion is on antisocial behaviour. We are giving the police and local practitioners a simpler and much more effective set of tools. The current alphabet soup of powers is confusing, bureaucratic and, far too often, simply not effective. The number of antisocial behaviour orders issued has fallen by more than half, and more than half of them are now breached at least once. More than 40% are breached more than once, and in fact those that are breached are now breached an average of more than four times.

We are introducing a smaller number of faster, more flexible and more effective tools that will allow practitioners to protect victims and communities. Far from making it harder for communities to get action on antisocial behaviour, we will introduce the community trigger, which will give communities the right to force agencies to take action to deal with persistent antisocial behaviour if they have failed to do so. The last shadow Home Secretary said:

“I want to live in the kind of society that puts ASBOs behind us.”

I find it rather concerning that the current shadow Home Secretary does not want to live in the same kind of society as the shadow Chancellor.

The Opposition’s final mistake in the motion is on child protection, and it brings me to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) raised. There are no loopholes in the programme that we have proposed. If by “loopholes” the Opposition mean that our scheme will no longer require 9 million people to register and be monitored by the state, they are right. We will not put nearly one in six of the entire population on to some enormous, intrusive Government database. We will not stop famous authors from reading poetry to schoolchildren. We will provide an appropriate and proportionate scheme that will give vulnerable people and children the protection that they need, while allowing those who want to volunteer to do so without fear or suspicion. That will make children’s lives better, by encouraging, not discouraging, people to work with them. I am sure that many Members, like my hon. Friend, can give examples of people who have found the whole process difficult and, sadly, been put off volunteering.

Yvette Cooper: Will the Home Secretary respond specifically to the NSPCC’s concern? It has raised the issue of a loophole whereby someone who has been barred from working with children can apply for a voluntary or part-time supervised job with a sports organisation or school, and that organisation will not

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even be told that they have been barred. Her junior Minister confirmed in the Protection of Freedoms Bill Committee that that was the case, and children’s organisations, the Children’s Commissioner and Labour Members are deeply concerned about that loophole. Can she confirm that it does indeed exist?

Mrs May: I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for mentioning the NSPCC, because it enables me to put the record right and quote its chief executive, Andrew Flanagan, who has said:

“The Government’s amendment is absolutely right. We welcome this wholeheartedly as it will make a huge difference to the safety of young people. We look forward to working with the Government as the new scheme is implemented.”

Yvette Cooper: The right hon. Lady will know that the matter was discussed in detail in Committee, and my hon. Friends who served on the Committee were clear that that NSPCC comment referred to the changes for 16 and 17-year-olds. She rightly listened and made the changes in question. Will she also make a change in the case of someone who has been barred? It might be known that there is a problem with someone working with children, yet they will be allowed to do so again. The organisation that is supposed to be supervising them will not even be told that they have been barred from working with children. Will she look again at that matter? It is very serious.

Mrs May: The issue was discussed in Committee, and the points that were made were very clear. As she said, she is talking about a situation in which an individual will be supervised. In the past she has talked about people with part-time jobs in schools, whose activity will be regulated. The potential for barring will therefore apply. In situations in which people’s activity is supervised, information will be available from the enhanced CRB check.

I accept that throughout, there has been a difference of opinion between Government Members and the Opposition. Labour wanted to put millions of people on to the database, which prevented people from volunteering to work with children and prevented authors from going into schools to read to children. Frankly, the scheme needed to be revised, and the Government are doing so.

We have a clear and comprehensive plan to cut crime. We are empowering the public, cutting bureaucracy, strengthening the fight against organised crime, providing more effective and appropriate powers and getting better value for money for the taxpayer. Those are the right reforms at the right time. In contrast, the Opposition are wrong on police numbers, the HMIC report, front-line availability, police and crime commissioners, DNA, CCTV, antisocial behaviour and child protection. They are wrong on each and every point, and that is why their motion deserves to fail.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I am going to lift the time limit to seven minutes, but if Members start to intervene I will have to drop it again.

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8.27 pm

Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) (Lab): I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) for choosing this topic for today’s debate. Rather than consider national matters or the headlines, I wish to discuss what is happening to the safer neighbourhood police teams in my constituency. They were introduced on the basis that there would be a team in each ward with six officers—a sergeant, two constables and three police community support officers, known as the 1-2-3 formation. They were the best innovation in my constituency in the past 20 years. They tackle not only crime levels but the fear of crime, a focus that would otherwise be missing. The lives of people in my constituency are often blighted not by actual crime but by the fear of being a victim of crime.

One of the fundamental points about safer neighbourhood teams is that they make people feel safer in their neighbourhood. People know their police officers and can just walk up to them. They are less alienated from the police and build up a level of trust in them, which makes them more likely to pass on information that they would not give to the anonymous police officer racing around in their Panda car. That change in policing was brought about not by the police or Whitehall mandarins, but by politicians—MPs who understood their constituents’ needs and how best to address them. Safer neighbourhood teams are not perfect, and it was necessary to look at their hours of work and shift patterns. However, they provide increased support and confidence in the communities that I represent, and yet they are under threat, and nobody but nobody is prepared to stand up and be counted on what is actually happening.

I should therefore like the House to give me a few minutes to explain what is happening to my safer neighbourhood police teams. Fact No. 1: my local police are very clear that the current system of ward-based safer neighbourhood teams cannot continue. The Mitcham and Morden Guardian reported it thus: Merton police have

“submitted a plan detailing three possible options…All three present a move away from the ‘one-two-three’ model used by safer neighbourhood teams in all 20 wards”.

That is not just tinkering. The report continues:

“Chief Inspector Lawrence said Option 2, which proposes nine SNTs, was the preferred option.”

Indeed, every report I have seen has made it clear that Merton police want to move away from the 20 safer neighbourhood teams—one in each ward—to having just nine of the current bases. They even told me that in a face-to-face meeting.

Fact No. 2: reducing the number of teams from 20 to nine is supported by Conservatives. For instance, Richard Tracey, our local London assembly member, is reported to have “welcomed these proposals”, and to have said that he had for years advocated adding flexibility to community policing. Moreover, David Simpson, a senior Merton councillor, is reported to be “relaxed” about the SNT shake-up. He added:

“We’re supportive of the nine SNT bases.”

Fact No. 3: in the meeting at which Chief Superintendent Dick Wolfenden, of Merton police, went public with plans to cut safer neighbourhood teams, he cited Government cuts, saying:

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“The future doesn’t look great. By 2014 I’ll be operating with 25 to 30 per cent less than I had eight months ago. My life, right now, is all about spinning plates and trying to keep the shop open…I’m fighting battles on all sorts of different fronts.”

Fact No. 4: earlier this year, Merton police told the leader of Merton council that although they are officially

“at full strength for constables and sergeants”

they have a smaller number who are

“currently unable to perform operational”


In other words, full strength does not mean having every post filled. The police also admitted to eight PCSO vacancies and a recruitment freeze. Therefore, although there is no official policy of police cuts, the reality is that we do not have the officers that we should have.

The Met’s website states:

“Safer Neighbourhoods teams usually consist of one sergeant, two constables and three police community support officers.”

However, according to Merton police’s website, currently—as of today—fewer than half their safer neighbourhood teams have a full complement of officers. Therefore, the police’s claim that the 1-2-3 system is “usual” seems at least a little exaggerated.

Officers have spoken of being moved to other teams or being given other responsibilities. Individual police officers have written e-mails about “permanent reductions” rather than vacancies “for the foreseeable future”. They have said that as far as they are concerned, each ward will have just one PC, which brings me to my next fact.

Fact No. 5: according to the minutes of my safer neighbourhoods panels, which are produced by the police, there has already been a safer neighbourhoods “team merger” between Pollards Hill and Longthornton. They have even held joint panel meetings, and for several months, only one sergeant covered both wards, which is exactly what one would expect if we were to go from having 20 to nine teams. It is almost as if the police were trialling their new system even before they had been allowed to replace the old one.

As a result, there has been local furore and a lot of media interest. Assistant Commissioner Ian McPherson even had to appear on BBC London’s TV news to deny everything. I wrote to him the next day to reiterate that the merger had taken place and to invite him to come to Mitcham to see for himself that residents really were telling the truth. Unfortunately, he did not reply for nearly eight weeks, and when he did he could not bring himself even to refer to the merger, let alone to deny it. It therefore must be a coincidence that the police announced earlier this month that Longthornton would have its own sergeant after all—a small victory, and perhaps one for the big society, because it shows what communities can do when they try to overturn bad decisions.

Hon. Members might think that getting a post filled is a victory, but my next fact is even more disturbing. Fact No. 6: the police have always said that SNTs are based only in their wards, but a huge number of measures have meant that the teams have been reduced and taken away from their wards. I cannot go into those details because of time, although I would dearly love to—I will write to the Home Secretary.

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Policing is fundamental to my constituents and those of other hon. Members. We must tell the truth about what is happening to police on the ground.

8.35 pm

David T. C. Davies (Monmouth) (Con): May I begin, as I often do, by declaring an interest as a special constable with the British Transport police? A few people might wonder why I do that job. When I was on the Home Affairs Committee, I justified it by saying that I have always felt deeply about policing—that is the reality. That is one of things that brought me into politics. I felt even more deeply about the matter when I became the victim of a burglary myself. I can tell the Home Secretary the effect it can have on a family, particularly when one of the partners is often away from home and young children are involved, to know that someone has been walking around their house with a knife in their hand

In many ways, I am sorry to have to make this speech—it is not even a very well-prepared one—but I have to tell the Home Secretary that I am deeply concerned about some of the directions we are taking. I have a view that might be unfashionable, which is that burglars, rapists, murderers, people who commit acts of violence of any sort and people who sell drugs—there is a family in Monmouthshire selling ketamine to young children in school—need to be taken off the streets and sent to prison. They should not be released early from their prison sentences, and they do not deserve 50% off their sentences, which is why for the first time ever, I think, I was unable to follow the Home Secretary into the Lobby earlier tonight. I regret that very much, but, I will not be part of any Government who want to let people out of prison. I do not think the Labour party did a good job on law and order, but when I hear colleagues say that it banged up more people than we will, I start to question what I am doing here.

Home Secretary, I will find it much easier to follow you into the Lobby tonight, because the Opposition have tabled a motion based on money, and we all know that, frankly, you are in a no-win situation. Labour Members did what they always do—they taxed and spent, they borrowed and they spent, they printed money and left us all with a £1 trillion debt.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Will the hon. Gentleman address the House through the Chair, rather than the Home Secretary?

David T. C. Davies: I apologise, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I was saying that I have no problem in following the Government into the Lobby on this motion, because it is about money. I understand full well that cuts have to be made, because we do not have the money and because basic economics means that we cannot live off other people’s money for ever.

There is much we could be doing to support the police. Morale in the police is very low. We could be doing a lot about bureaucracy. That has been said for years—of course it has—but I can give specific examples. Officers spend 10 or 15 minutes filling out a stop-and-search form for each person they stop and search. They cannot stop and search the right people because code A relating to section 2 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 prevents them from searching somebody who has committed an offence that is probably non-arrestable

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when the police do not have direct evidence or anything on them at that moment. For example, at Liverpool Street station, I once stopped a beggar who had a long criminal record for carrying knives and drugs. I wanted to give him a quick frisk—not an invasive strip search, but a frisk—but I could not because although he had 20 or so convictions, I had no evidence that he had drugs on him at that particular moment. Give the police the tools to do the job, and they will do it well.

Public order police officers have one of the hardest jobs going. One minute they are told that they should not kettle people because it is against their human rights, but the next they are told, “There’s been a riot, the Conservative party’s offices have been invaded. We want robust policing next time.” The next time there is robust policing, but then there are more complaints about it from Members on both sides of the House who have never had to stand, outnumbered 10:1, in front of a load of rioting people and had to try to work out which rioters are passing the iron bars, which are throwing them and so on. There is no way that the police can turn round and run because they are in uniform. It is a very difficult and dangerous job, and if they do not always get it right, it is not altogether surprising.

There are things we could be doing to support the special constabulary to make much better use of it, such as employer-supported policing, which I have spoken to the Home Secretary about before. Quite frankly, however, if it comes down to money, there is a difference between me and Opposition Members. I would like more money put into the police force and the Prison Service so that we can look after our people properly. The first priority of any Government should be the defence of the realm and the rule of law. Where I differ from Opposition Members, however, is that I would say to the Home Secretary—even though it is not her decision—that I cannot understand why we are pouring into the third world money that is being spent on Mercedes Benz by dodgy dictators in Africa, while having to cut funding to the police and prison services here, resulting in our people being not as safe as they ought to be.

Let us be honest about this. If we are going to reduce funding to the police force, there will be a cut in service. There is no point trying to pretend otherwise, no matter what reforms we make. I offer the Home Secretary a serious suggestion. I have noticed that on many occasions the police have to waste a lot of money providing translation facilities for people who claim not to speak English. I have actually arrested people who were able to tell me in perfect English that they were not responsible for whatever they were doing—usually bag thefts and such things. They have an amazing level of English, but take them back to the police station and suddenly it has all gone and a translator has to be found at £50 an hour—and no doubt the translator follows them all the way through the court process as well. On rare and happy occasions, these people actually go to prison. When that happens, though, we have to spend money housing in our prisons people who are often illegal immigrants—that involves a certain expense, although not as much as the figures often quoted suggest—and afterwards we have to spend money trying to deport them if their countries will take them.

The Home Secretary should take some of the money that is meant for the third world in the third world, and use it on people from the third world who are over here

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breaking the law—not all of them are, of course, but some of them do.




Yes, I appreciate that I quite often put my arguments across in a clumsy fashion—although from what I have seen, that is no barrier to high office in this place—but I have one priority in mind: the safety of our people.

The other day I was talking to somebody who was brought up in a mining village—I can tell the Home Secretary who it was afterwards. That person was a Conservative party agent—a true working-class Conservative of the sort who put in people such as Margaret Thatcher and John Major. She was not just a member of the Conservative party, but someone who went out and campaigned, and had been an area chairman. However, she has now left the Conservative party because she feels that we have abandoned people such as her on issues such as crime and immigration. I have the utmost respect for the Home Secretary—far more, in fact, than for many other members of the Cabinet—and I will happily follow her through the Lobby this evening. However, I very much hope that working-class Tory voters—and perhaps even working-class Labour voters—will be voting Conservative at the next election, and will not feel let down and betrayed. I have canvassed many houses in my lifetime and met many people who said that they would vote Conservative. Not one of them has ever said to me, “I’m voting Conservative because I want you to let more people out of prison.” Let this not be the message from the Conservative party if we ever want to win an election again.

8.41 pm

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Let me start by saying how offensive I found some of the remarks that the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) made. [ Interruption. ] I will leave it at that.

Let me say how important policing, and crime reduction and prevention are in my constituency, as they are in many others, as we have heard. As we have also heard, the British crime survey showed that during Labour’s Administration, helped by record numbers of police, crime fell by 43% to a 30-year low. Violent crime fell by 42% and burglary by 59%. The risk of being a victim of crime was the lowest since 1981, when the BCS began. Under Labour, there were record numbers of police—nearly 17,000—and more than 16,000 police community support officers.

This Government’s public spending cuts have meant that every police force in England and Wales faces a 7.5% real-terms cut this year and an 8.7% cut in 2012-13. That means that in the run-up to the Olympics, when there will be pressures on all forces, and when the Home Secretary says that there is an ongoing terror threat, forces will face a 15% cut in the next two years. By 2014, that figure will have risen to 20%. Contrary to what she said earlier about Chief Constable Fahy’s comments to the Select Committee on Home Affairs, let me point out that he said that £76.6 million would be cut in total over the next two years, and that because 86% of the budget is spent on the work force, that equates to—these are the figures that he quoted—nearly 1,400 police officers and 1,600 civilian staff posts being lost.

Claire Perry: I am enjoying the hon. Lady’s use of statistics, but I implore Members on both sides of the House—and we have a lot of intelligent people here this

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evening—to get away from this fetish about the numbers of police, and instead talk about the results. We all knew that we would have to make cuts; let us talk about where those cuts should fall and what the rights numbers are to guarantee safety.

Debbie Abrahams: I am happy to come to that, but it is important to set out the statistics that I have just given, which show that there has been a cut from a level that enabled the police force to work effectively.

We have also heard about the recruitment freezes, and about some police forces using the legal loophole in the police pensions regulations forcibly to retire police officers with over 30 years’ experience; they are some of our most experienced officers. Another issue is the Government’s fixation with what they call front-line or visible policing. We must not forget the important role that specialist units play in domestic violence and child protection cases. They are important areas that also need to be valued.

What most people cannot understand, however, is why, at the same time as putting communities at risk with cuts to the police force, the Government are proposing to spend more than £100 million on 42 elected police commissioners. That is the equivalent of 600 full-time posts. It just does not make sense.

In last year’s manifesto, Labour made a commitment to maintaining the then police staffing levels, with a three-year assured programme of investment. We were going to make tough choices elsewhere, in procurement, IT and overtime.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): I am terribly sorry to interrupt the hon. Lady, because we are about to hear where exactly she would make cuts. We all look forward to that. She speaks assuredly about the number of police officers under the last Labour Government, but many of my constituents tell me that they never saw a police officer on their streets during that time. How many more police officers would she offer, in order to give assurance to my constituents?

Debbie Abrahams: I am talking about the situation that we have now, with the hon. Gentleman’s Government in power. I had thousands of petitions presented to me during the by-election specifically on the subject of cuts in police numbers. I must also remind him that the Deputy Prime Minister promised to increase police numbers.

The effects of the cuts have already been noted by the Conservative chair of the Association of Police Authorities, who said that they would ultimately put at risk progress in reducing crime. In my constituency, the Oldham division of the Greater Manchester police has expressed concern not only about the direct effects of the cuts on police spending but about the cuts to the local authority budget and the abolition of area-based grants, all of which will have significant effects. The partnership working between the police, the local authority and the voluntary sector has had immense benefits for crime prevention and community safety—for example, in target-hardening measures such as alley-gating. There is strong evidence that such measures have a significant benefit for vulnerable properties. Other measures that have brought benefits include youth programmes and offender management.

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I have been contacted by nearly 50 local police officers living in my constituency. Not only are they fearful for their jobs but the recent Winsor review and Hutton report will have significant implications for their terms and conditions and for their pensions. Sergeant David Donlan asked me:

“How many people have to go to work in body armour, routinely putting their lives at risk to protect our communities, and yet have imposed on them where they can live, who they can associate with or even marry? We can’t join a union, let alone strike.”

I am committed to working closely with the police on reform, but I think that the Government have mishandled this review process and treated police officers poorly. The Home Secretary pre-empted the final report and has attempted to paint the police as inefficient and not interested in reform. I urge her to reconsider the question of the royal commission. The discussions that I have had with local police officers make it clear that they want to see modernisation, but it must be fair. I know that we will be debating pensions soon, but the point for this debate is that, in addition to major changes in terms and conditions and cuts to the work force, the changes to their pensions are yet another hit for the police.

My final point concerns the long-term consequences of the Government’s cuts. In addition to the short and medium-term impacts on crime, I am worried about the long-term effects that these ideologically driven cuts will have on the social fabric of our society. Last week, we heard how pay disparities between the UK’s highest and lowest paid workers were taking us back to Victorian times. There is strong evidence that the increase in socio-economic inequalities will not only result in widening differences in life expectancy between the rich and poor but be associated with higher levels of crime and disaffection. The trust that underpins community cohesion and positive relationships in a multicultural society is once again being eroded by a Tory Government who are determined to drive their disastrous cuts through.

8.49 pm

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): I have been a Member of the House since 1997, and I still naively expect this Chamber to be a place of rational debate. However, there has certainly been no evidence of that from the Labour Front-Bench contributions today, either during the previous debate on sentencing or during this one on policing. There is no recognition of their share of the responsibility for the significant cuts that the coalition is having to make. They are tougher than we had expected because the finances we inherited were deteriorating faster and the international climate was tougher for countries that were not tackling their deficits.

There is no willingness from Labour to demonstrate how the £7 of savings it was going to make, as opposed to the £8 that the coalition is having to make, would safeguard police numbers. Indeed, Labour Members are not even listening to their own party leader, who said in his speech to the Progress conference on 21 May:

“There will be those who say it is enough for Labour to hunker down… I hear it quite a lot: let’s be a louder… Opposition”,

but he then went on to say:

“But to think that it is enough is to fail to understand the depth of the loss of trust in us and the scale of change required to win it back. We must recognise where we didn’t get things right”.

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Their leader is asking Labour Members to adopt a more honest and considered approach, but they do not listen to their leader, as we found out during the AV campaign when he said, “I’m right behind it” and half of them walked off in the opposite direction.

It was the Opposition’s choice not to have a debate about what is achievable from an efficiency savings point of view and what is achievable in police numbers. We heard in an intervention that police numbers in Staffordshire had been maintained.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I met the chief constable of Cambridgeshire constabulary this morning and he told me that the budget can be managed so that there will be no reduction in police constables at all, and perhaps even a small increase. It is being done by greater efficiency and by greater collaboration with other forces. Will my hon. Friend suggest that other police authorities follow that excellent lead?

Tom Brake: Indeed, and I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. Clearly, a number of forces around the country are adopting approaches or policies to ensure that police numbers are maintained. Another good example is Cleveland, where by working with Steria the force has been successful in achieving savings of £50 million over a 10-year period; it has been able to achieve 20% reductions in the areas on which they are working by focusing on cutting bureaucracy, increasing mobile access to make the police more effective when they are out in the field, and improving case file preparation, which no doubt leads to more successful prosecutions. When the will is there, much is achievable in making greater efficiency savings and focusing on police numbers. The Government are right to tackle the issue of police terms and conditions. It has been on the agenda for many years, but has never been tackled. It was time for the Government to grasp that particular nettle and progress is now being made.

It was also the Opposition’s choice not to debate one of the most effective ways of tackling crime, which is by cutting reoffending. Community sentences were mentioned in the earlier debate. With community sentences, 51% of people reoffend as opposed to the 59% who reoffend after being given a prison sentence. These are comparable groups of offenders: in one case, with a community sentence properly enforced, there is only a 51% reoffending rate; when a similar group of prisoners are sent to prison for one year or less, 59% reoffend.

David T. C. Davies: Is the hon. Member aware that that report also showed that anyone sentenced to more than 12 months in prison had the lowest reoffending rate of all? Is not the lesson we should draw that long prison sentences are more effective than anything else?

Tom Brake: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I am drawing on one part of the report; he is drawing on another. It is very clear that community sentences, for people who would otherwise have been given a short prison sentence, actually reduce reoffending. That means fewer victims. Surely, if we are having a rational debate, that must be a matter of interest to all Members.

For community sentences to be effective, I underline the importance, as stressed to me by User Voice, of ensuring that rehabilitation is retained within the community

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sentence scheme. In its view, those sentences are more effective than prison sentences because the rehabilitation component is there. I hope that that will remain part of the community sentences that are going to be issued.

Work in prison is also important. It is effective in tackling reoffending because it gives prisoners skills that they can use, as well as providing—according to the Howard League, which published a report today—something like £17 million that can go into the victims fund. I am sure that everyone would welcome that as well.

Volunteering in prison is potentially just as effective in reducing reoffending as work in prison. Last week the Prison Reform Trust launched a very successful scheme at High Down prison drawing on the skills of listeners, and I am certain that the reoffending rate among former prisoners who have participated in it will be less than that among those who have not.

The Opposition did not, of course, choose to call a debate about the most cost-effective ways of solving crimes. Today I was fortunate enough to visit Crimestoppers, which happens to be based in my constituency. What it is achieving at a cost of £4.5 million has been valued at £120 million. Last year it helped to solve 50 murders. It favours payment by results, because it believes that it has a very successful model. By using the public as a resource, it is able to bring cases to court much more quickly than it could have done had it followed the normal court and police processes.

The Government have set out in a concrete and substantive way what we believe will be effective in tackling crime and what we believe is necessary to deal with inefficiencies in, for example, the back office. I feel that it was incumbent on the Labour Members who tabled a debate on this subject to set out what their alternative would have been, but I am afraid that that has been totally lacking this evening.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. If I am to be able to call all the Members who wish to speak, I shall have to reduce the speaking times to seven minutes.

8.57 pm

Alun Michael (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op): Let me begin by declaring, as I do at meetings of the Home Affairs Committee, that my son is the chief executive of North Wales police authority.

The debate raises some really big issues: how we can make policing effective, how we can increase professionalism, and how we can tackle new challenges such as internet-related crime, which continues to grow.

Mr Ellwood: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether the clock could be adjusted.

Mr Deputy Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The debate is now under way again.

Alun Michael: Further issues arise from cuts that are too deep and too sudden, and, in the case of the police, made even more painful by being front-ended. We also face an upheaval as the Government press on with their plan to establish police and crime commissioners for each force in England and Wales—apart from that in London, which strikes me as an odd omission.

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If the Government are truly confident that theirs is the right approach, they would have been well advised to pilot the idea, because the devil will be in the detail of relationships. The wholesale implementation of the Government’s proposals in 41 forces at a time of massive cuts, wholesale retirements and the serious demoralisation that arises from pension changes can only be described as truly courageous.

I do not want to become bogged down in numbers, but newer Government Members may be unaware of the disastrous record of the last Conservative Government and the way in which the ground was recovered during the subsequent years of Labour administration. It is vital that the Government and the commissioners—if the other place allows their introduction—fully understand the importance of a partnership approach to cutting crime. When Robert Peel set up the first police force, he stated clearly that cutting crime and preventing offending was the key role of the police. I am pleased to acknowledge that both the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice and the Home Secretary underlined those words when they appeared before the Home Affairs Committee. That belief, however, needs to be supported in practice and in substance, through partnerships linked to a clear and objective analysis of why, when and where crime happens.

I am also pleased that the crime reduction partnerships which I introduced in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 are to continue, with some new titles and rebranding. That is fine: refreshing the model is an entirely appropriate move by Ministers in a new Government. However, this Government need to make sure that they build on the cuts in crime achieved under the last Labour Government and squeeze out the further gains in crime reduction that are there to be made. That requires a clinical approach and an engineering approach to crime. My favourite example in that regard is the violence reduction strategy in Cardiff, led, as it happens, by a medic—Professor Jonathan Shepherd—which has resulted in a cut of now well over 40% in the number of victims, as measured not by arrests or reports to the police but by the reduction in the number of people needing treatment at an accident and emergency unit following a violent incident. Such results do not happen by accident. Intelligent analysis, partnership and ambition are what drove that improvement, and we need that approach everywhere. The result is savings to courts, to prisons and to the NHS. There are therefore benefits for all those who are part of a partnership approach.

My second example relates to youth crime. The numbers in residential detention have come down as the youth offending teams have focused on the challenge of cutting youth crime. Police are involved in what is an inter-agency approach. Again, I have no objection to that approach being renewed and refreshed, but I urge Ministers not to abandon a strategy that is working. We need police engagement in the work of reducing youth crime, rather than having them always chasing after the offenders.

My third example is about police community support officers. I commend the Welsh Assembly Government who have just come to office for putting in place additional PCSOs to support the work of the police in Wales. That is essential for truly effective policing because we must connect with local communities if we are to be successful.

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My final example is to do with internet-related crime. This is a growth area, but the police will never have the resources to keep on chasing around the whole of the internet. The work of the Internet Watch Foundation and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre show what can be done. They have succeeded in tackling child abuse over the last few years. It is important that business too is linked in and works in partnership on internet-related crime. I commend to Ministers the example of e-Crime Wales, driven by a partnership between the Welsh Assembly Government and the police in Wales.

We need the police to do all the heavy lifting of detective work, making arrests, being visible, engaging the public and policing our town and city centres. The Minister is well aware of the challenges that our success in building up Cardiff as a real capital has presented to the police in policing successive activities, but as the Justice Committee report on justice reinvestment showed, most of the services and resources that make a difference in cutting crime, and therefore in protecting victims, are outside the criminal justice system. Partnership is therefore not just an extra; it is not an option that can be dropped if time is short and the pressure is on. It is crucial and central to enabling the police to be successful in their work, and I hope Ministers will encourage the continuation and growth of partnership working.