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Part of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit in the Social Housing Sector (Regular Payments) – in the House of Commons at 2:39 pm on 12th February 2014.

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Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:39 pm, 12th February 2014

Let me make two preliminary points. First, hon. Members were here earlier for a powerful debate on the Floor of the House about Hillsborough, and it is absolutely right that where there is wrongdoing, those who are guilty of such wrongdoing are held fully and properly to account. Secondly, I agree with the Minister when he says that a progressive reform agenda—progressive is my word, not his—is a good thing and should be embraced. That is precisely why we commissioned the Stevens report and I will say more on that later. I agree with the Minister on the proposal to professionalise the police service progressively, with chartered police officers accountable to the college of policing, a lifelong career and personal development.

Let me turn to the issue of Hillsborough and how our police service is sometimes painted. I agree with both the Home Secretary and the Police Minister when they say that it would be absolutely wrong to paint the entire police service with the brush of a very small minority guilty of wrongdoing. I want to start by paying tribute to the brave policemen and women up and down the country who put their lives on the line day in, day out to keep our communities safe; police officers like Ian Dibell who have given their lives for their community and this country. In my constituency I have seen the outstanding bravery of police officers—for example, tackling armed robbers—and the very best of neighbourhood policing. The Stockland Green neighbourhood police team is an award-winning team. Five years ago, the North Birmingham academy in Kingstanding was riven with gang violence. The school has been utterly transformed by the excellent co-operation between the new leadership of the school and the local police service.

The first duty of any Government is the safety and security of the communities we serve. In government, Labour listened to what people wanted and to what the police said. We invested in neighbourhood policing: 17,000 additional police officers who know their communities and 16,000 additional police community support officers. Neighbourhood policing worked: it proved to be deeply popular and crime fell by 43%. Today, however, as a direct result of the actions of this Government, there is a real fear that we risk a generation of progress being reversed.