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Neighbourhood Policing

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of Simon Hart Simon Hart Conservative, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire 2:30 pm, 25th March 2013

What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of neighbourhood policing.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

We know that the public want a visible police presence, working with them to identify and tackle issues in their communities. Year on year the crime survey for England and Wales shows that that approach to policing is valued by the public, helping to build public confidence and bring crime down by 10%.

Photo of Simon Hart Simon Hart Conservative, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire

For neighbourhood management to be really effective it requires the active involvement of other Departments such as those for health and housing. That works quite well in Dyfed-Powys, but is the Minister happy that it is working well everywhere else?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I agree with my hon. Friend that, for neighbourhood policing to be completely effective, it requires not just the police to work with others, but also with other Departments. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has written to chief constables and police and crime commissioners to emphasise that it is important, particularly in the field of mental health, for the police and the health service to work better together than they have in the past and to improve their response to that particularly vulnerable group of people. There is always more that we can do on that.

Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Labour, Tottenham

A few weeks ago the Mayor of London said that he would not close front-office counters in police stations unless he could replace them with a superior— or equivalent—service. Today he closed 63. Does the Home Secretary agree with the assessment of the Daily Mail, which a few weeks ago described the Mayor as “faintly ridiculous” and changing his mind “every five minutes”?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I understand that as part of the changes to the overall policing and crime power, which, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman knows, is the responsibility of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, 2,600 officers will be redeployed from back offices into neighbourhood policing. There should therefore be more police on the streets of London than before, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will join me in welcoming that.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green

The Mayor of London’s redeployment of counter staff will lead to 74 additional bobbies on the beat in a borough such as Barnet. Does the Minister welcome that redeployment of officers on to the streets?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I do welcome that redeployment, and my hon. Friend is right to draw attention to it in his borough and other London boroughs. Getting effective neighbourhood and community policing is about officers rather than buildings.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office), Party Chair, Co-operative Party

Does the Minister believe that someone who is set to leave London with fewer police constables and fewer police community support officers in 2015 compared with 2010 is a suitable candidate for future Prime Minister?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

As this is Home Office questions, I will stick to the Home Office’s responsibilities, which include keeping our streets safe, which we are doing more effectively than ever before. Crime is down 10%, and it is down in the Metropolitan police area. I am sure the action the Mayor has taken today will make London’s streets even safer in future.

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

As my right hon. and hon. Friends have said, Boris Johnson, aided by Home Office cuts, is to close 50% of London’s police stations, to lose 4,000 police constables and PCSOs, and to reduce police numbers in 17 of the 32 London boroughs. Will the Minister confirm that yesterday’s interview on “The Andrew Marr Show”, bad though it was, was the lesser of several evils the Mayor is inflicting on London?

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I would have hoped that the shadow police Minister would have welcomed the fact that Metropolitan police crime figures are down by 3% in the past year, showing that the effective co-operation between the Home Office at national level and the Mayor’s office at London level is making London’s streets safer than ever before.