I will make some progress before I give way to any other interventions.
Our reforms are also based on the premise that the police must be accountable not to civil servants in Whitehall, but to the communities that they serve. Last Thursday, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill completed its passage through the House. It is our hope that it will complete its passage through the Lords and receive Royal Assent in time for elections for police and crime commissioners to take place next year.
During the Committee stage of the Bill, the Opposition helpfully conceded the principle that we need democratic reform in policing, but their idea is just to add elections on top of the existing ineffective structures by having elected police authority chairs, which would add to the costs without bringing any of the benefits. Under our proposals, police and crime commissioners will have the power to set the police budget, determine local policing priorities and hold their chief constables to account. If they do not cut crime and help keep their communities safe, they will face the ultimate sanction of rejection at the ballot box.
However, slashing Labour’s bureaucracy and increasing accountability is not enough. The police will have to take their fair share of the cuts across Government to clear up Labour’s financial mess, so direct savings and efficiencies are also needed.