Last Thursday I laid the provisional police grant report for 2012-13 before the House. It set out provisional allocations of the Home Office core settlement for police authorities for 2012-13, and is now the subject of a consultation. I will consider all responses carefully.
Of course dealing with budget reductions is challenging for police forces, but we are convinced that they can do it. I recently met members of the Nottinghamshire force, including the chief constable, and we discussed the issues. The chief constable has acknowledged the difficulty of the decisions involved, but has also said that she is
“doing all we can to protect frontline services and target resources to areas where the public are most commonly affected”.
The police settlement, which, as the Minister acknowledged, was published last week, takes a further £700 million out of the police budget at a time when we are seeing worrying increases in crime, with violent crime, burglary and theft all going up in last month’s figures. Senior police officers have already expressed their concern that the settlement means they will have to do far more than can be achieved through efficiency savings. If the police, in responding to this consultation, feel that it is inadequate to meet policing challenges next year, will the Minister think again? Will he ensure that the 3,000 extra police officers that the Liberal Democrats called for are put in place?
I note what the right hon. Gentleman says about these issues. He is trying to give the impression that a further reduction in funding has been announced, but he knows that that is not the case; these reductions were announced beforehand, as part of the review, and they have not changed in relation to the proposed allocation for forces. I also note that he is coming forward with his familiar solution—Labour’s only policy on the police—which is to call for more public spending. It is that attitude that got this country into the mess that we inherited from the previous Government. Perhaps he might have something more constructive to say about policing in future.