I think my hon. Friend’s point applies to every one of us whose area has a police and crime commissioner. The essence of localism, which I think, in its broadest sense, is supported by both major political parties and by the Liberal Democrats, is that we cannot for ever say that it is the Minister’s fault. We cannot keep on saying that the man or woman in Whitehall knows best. Those on the ground, the elected police and crime commissioners, must explain what they are doing in their forces, with their chief constables, to bring about greater visibility of policing—with manifestly constrained resources—and, if they are not able to hit their objectives, they must explain why.
Some people may think that we are doing ourselves out of a job—that we are just voting for the money and telling people to get on with it. That would be a crude gloss on what I am saying, but I think that the thrust of it is absolutely correct. We need local people, whether in Humberside, Suffolk, Dorset or the west midlands, to stand up and be counted. We need people to know how many hours have been saved in cutting red tape, because more red tape can certainly be cut: it can be rooted out. Assets are underemployed—estates are badly managed, for instance—and we need to get more value from those assets.
We face reductions throughout the comprehensive spending review period during the current Parliament, but I repeat that we started from a high base—a 20% real-terms increase over the 10 years of the Labour Government up to 2008—and the cuts should be seen against that backdrop. We do not support the cuts because we want to be beastly to public services, or because we think that the police should become more efficient and should therefore be paid less. We should all like to be in a position to look again at what we spend on the police once the economy starts growing again at trend or above, but in the meantime we must press on with reform.
We have had more resources over the past 20 years, but we have not had the reform that should have gone hand in hand with those increased resources. Under the current Home Secretary, that area of policy will not be neglected, because she knows that it is not just more money but the way in which we use our police that will enable us to reduce crime levels and keep our constituents safe.