Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I want to make progress because I am conscious of those who wish to speak.
However, it is the crux of the motion that I find most troubling—that is, the concern among Opposition Front Benchers that the police may endure spending reductions in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review. As I have said, in the previous Parliament we successfully halved the deficit. In a few weeks’ time, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out how we will finish that job in the comprehensive spending review. In doing so, he will show that this Government recognise the value of balancing the books, spending within our means, and lowering taxes for hard-working people, because the deficit is still too high, and it is right that police forces share in that effort, as they have done in the past five years. To echo the shadow Home Secretary’s speech to the Labour party conference, savings are still there to be made. The limit of those savings is not the arbitrary 10% that he sets out in his motion. Let us remember that usable financial reserves for police forces in England and Wales stand at just over £2.1 billion right now—built up, in part, to help soften the impact of future spending cuts. These reserves increased by nearly £100 million last year—up in 26 forces across England and Wales. Capital reserves are approximately £240 million in 2014-15—roughly the same as the previous year.
Nor can we forget the extraordinary savings and operational benefits that can be made, as several hon. Friends have said, from better collaboration between forces and effective joint working with other local services. Only last week, Cleveland, Durham and North Yorkshire constabularies announced a £5 million saving by bringing together their dogs units, while still maintaining a 24-hour service across the three forces. There are efficiencies afforded by better technology. Cambridgeshire police have saved an estimated 240,000 officer hours a year and over £7 million by rolling out tablet and mobile devices to officers to allow them to work better on the road and away from the police station.