Crime Levels

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6th February 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Labour, Bolton West 2:30 pm, 6th February 2012

What assessment she has made of the level of crime since May 2010.

Photo of Simon Danczuk Simon Danczuk Labour, Rochdale

What assessment she has made of the level of crime since May 2010.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Crime remains too high. That is why we are reforming the police, so that they are free from paperwork and free to fight crime. We have also set up the national crime mapping website, police.uk, which now provides the public with street-level information about crime and antisocial behaviour on a monthly basis, allowing them to access crime and policing information in a way that is helpful to them.

Photo of Julie Hilling Julie Hilling Labour, Bolton West

With a 10% increase in robbery with knives, is this the right time to cut 16,000 police officers?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

There is no simple link between the number of police officers and the level of crime. We can see that evidenced in the UK and elsewhere, with both police officer numbers and crime falling in a number of areas. I suggest to the hon. Lady that she might talk to the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, her right hon. Friend Keith Vaz, who last year said exactly this:

“We accept that there is no simple relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime.”

Photo of Simon Danczuk Simon Danczuk Labour, Rochdale

Crime in Rochdale is now higher than the national average on nearly every indicator. Will the Home Secretary explain to my constituents how cutting 16,000 police officers will help to reduce that difference?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I have just responded to the point about the relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime. I believe that the hon. Gentleman’s constituency comes under the Greater Manchester police force, and that force has made some transformations in how it copes with the budget cuts it has to deal with, with the result that 348 police officers have been released from support areas so that those individuals can be out in front-line roles. That is what it is about. It is about the deployment of officers, not the numbers.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

In the town of Kettering, from 2010 to 2011 overall crime has fallen by 4%, robbery by 11%, theft from motor vehicles by 20% and residential burglaries by 40%. Will the Home Secretary join me in welcoming those figures?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I do indeed welcome those figures, and I thank my hon. Friend for bringing them to the attention of the House. I also commend the local police and other local agencies that have been involved in ensuring that such a fall in crime can take place in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

Following on from my hon. Friend Mr Hollobone, is my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State aware that in Harlow crime has also fallen since 2010, with 87 fewer burglaries and 63 fewer cases of criminal damage, among many other figures? Does that not show that community-led policing with limited resources makes a difference? Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to Essex police?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to Essex police, and to their work in his constituency and others covered by that force. We do indeed see the value of community-led policing, and that is why chief constables up and down the country are making every effort to ensure that they can get police officers out from back-office posts and on to the front line, where people want to see them.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

The latest crime figures show that personal crimes of robbery, burglary and theft have gone up by 11% in the past year—the largest increase in more than a decade. Contrary to what the Home Secretary has just said, the independent inspectorate of policing has said that a 10% cut in police numbers will lead to a 3% increase in property crime. Quite frankly, the Home Secretary should be cutting crime, not police officers. Will she urgently revisit plans to cut 16,000 police from our streets?

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Well, really, I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that he knows full well there is no direct link—there is no simple link—between crime and—

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

Ooh, you slipped up there didn’t you?

Hon. Members:

He’s a shadow Minister.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. May I just explain that the deal for an Opposition Front Bencher of the hon. Gentleman’s important but middling rank is one question a month—not one question and multiple heckles? I know he is trying to reinvent the deal but the deal is as I have just described it.

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was going to say to the shadow Immigration Minister that he does, indeed, get excited very often about things that he need not get excited about. There is no simple and direct link between the number of officers and the level of crime. We see that in the UK and across the world. What Opposition Front Benchers need to focus on is the deployment of officers. They need to ask themselves why under the previous Labour Government so many officers were stuck in back-office posts in areas such as human resources instead of being out on the front line fighting crime.