I have given way before, twice. When budgets are tight, it puts an even greater onus on Government to achieve greater efficiencies and value for money—an even greater onus. We recognise the importance of the police.
Although funding reductions are unavoidable, the Government have substantially reformed the police over the last few years, and that reform is working. We have fundamentally changed the accountability framework for policing, introducing direct democratic accountability. Police and crime commissioners were elected in November and are now actively consulting on their police and crime plans and budgets for 2013-14. Those plans will set the scale of their ambition for the future, but already they have begun to demonstrate that they are driving forward innovative and flexible use of their budgets and taking bold decisions.
We have already seen evidence of that bold leadership, with forces looking seriously at how they manage their estate, including the future of New Scotland Yard here in London. We have seen the determination of other PCCs to put more police officers on the street through raising the precept, in some cases; others are restructuring their budgets to secure the future of police community safety officers; and others are looking to push collaboration to new areas to secure value for money for their electorate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but innovative policy making is taking place to achieve greater community safety and value for money. In the knowledge that they will be held to account directly by the public, PCCs are seeking to take measures to maintain and improve the service to the public within what is, as I have already admitted, a very tight financial climate.
PCCs, their chief constables and the officers and staff they lead are now supported by the new College of Policing. The college will support the fight against crime by equipping the police with the skills and knowledge they need to provide the very best service to their communities. Headed by an outstanding chief constable, Alex Marshall, and with Professor Shirley Pearce as its chair, the college will work in the public interest, supporting the police in their critical mission to cut crime by driving professionalism and integrity in policing.