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Clause 1 — Police and crime commissioners

Part of Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 12th September 2011.

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Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice 7:45 pm, 12th September 2011

The hon. Gentleman really must do better than that; he has been a policing Minister, as I now am. As far as I am aware, those consultants were commissioned by the Association of Police Authorities. They made a number of assumptions, including about the additional use of Home Office official time, and those assumptions are wrong. The figures that I gave the hon. Gentleman are the official figures produced by the Government, and it is our formal view—I am basing this on the advice that I am given by officials—that the estimate of the transition costs made by the Association of Police Authorities is wrong; I want to say that again.

The hon. Gentleman raised the issue of November elections. I am advised that, in the dim and distant past, elections have been held in this country in November and, in the more recent though still fairly distant past, in October. It is of course the case that the presidential elections in the United States are routinely held in November. The next such elections will be held in November next year. Indeed, it was thought possible at one time that the former leader of the Labour party and former Prime Minister was going to call an election in 2007. Presumably, that would have been held in late October or early November, but the right hon. Gentleman chickened out, as we all remember. So November elections are not such an unusual proposition.

I would like to pick up on something that Mark Tami said when he challenged my use of the term “middle office”. He said that I had just invented it, but in so doing, he betrayed his lack of knowledge on these issues, and the fact that he has not read Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary’s report, in which the inspectorate helpfully offers a definition of the front line. Indeed, “middle office” is a standard term in policing; it is one that the inspectorate uses. It denotes functions that are not directly public-facing but nevertheless involve fighting crime.

I want to return to an important point that I made during questions earlier. A very considerable amount of police resource, and a third of all human resources, are not on the front line. That is what the inspectorate’s report said, and it is clear that the hon. Gentleman has not read it; otherwise, he would not have been so astonished at the term “middle office”. Hon. Members should read that report. If they did so, they would see the inspectorate’s assessment of the number of officers in the back and middle office—the figure is well over 20,000—and of the way in which chief constables should consider whether those officers are in appropriate roles. As the Opposition are making a great deal of the fact that 16,000 police officers must be lost, it behoves them to look more carefully at where police officers are actually employed. There is no need for the front line to be damaged, provided that the right decisions are taken and that policing is made more efficient and transformed in the right way.

Jack Dromey paid tribute to the role of our police officers in dealing with the riots, and it was remiss of me not to have done so earlier, because that was the first opportunity that I have had to do so in the House. I certainly join him in paying tribute to everything that those officers did to protect the public and property, and to everything that they went through. I remind the House that a considerable number of officers were injured during that period. In my view, it is right that the justice system operated swiftly in order to deal with the perpetrators.

In the three minutes remaining to me, I should like to comment on the speech made by Paul Murphy on the relationship between Cardiff and London and the significance of the reforms in Wales. I have been engaged in discussions with the Welsh Assembly Government, and specifically with Carl Thomas