Schedule 17 — Temporary class drug orders
Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
Theresa May (Home Secretary; Maidenhead, Conservative)
I have to say to the right hon. Lady that her intervention and that of the hon. Member for Rhondda betray the difficulty that the Labour party has had, both in government and in opposition, with this issue of front-line services. Chief constables such as Chief Constable Steve Finnigan have said that they are determined to protect the front-line service that is provided to members of the public. There is a difference between the service that can be provided and the number of police who are there, and the trouble with Labour is that it has always focused on numbers. What we have seen recently is that there are great variations in, for example, invisibility and availability of the police who are out there on the streets being seen by members of the public. Percentages can vary from 9% of police being available and visible to the public to 17%, as in Merseyside. If that highest figure was followed by every force, then just under 8,000 more officers would be visible and available to members of the public. This is about the efficient use of resources. Police and crime commissioners, as I have said, will bring accountability to local policing.