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Part of Opposition Day — [9th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 4th November 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee 4:58 pm, 4th November 2015

I welcome today’s debate. Policing is a major concern in my constituency and across Merseyside. The motion moved by my right hon. Friend Andy Burnham sets out the key areas. It mentions the loss of 17,000 police officers since 2010—in Merseyside alone, we have lost 1,000. It also mentions the sharp rise in serious crime and the move away from traditional forms of crime.

Several hon. Members have talked about how crime is changing. In my constituency, the rate of firearm discharges has been a major issue, so I welcome the 23% fall in that rate over the last year. In Merseyside as a whole, however, the last year has seen big increases in the levels of serious crime, such as hate crime, violence with injury, violence without injury, rape and other sexual crimes. Conservative Members are right that this is partly because more people are coming forward, but when they do their complaints have to be dealt with—the capacity has to be there—and we are concerned that as a result of the cuts we might not have the capacity to deal with those larger numbers.

Since 2010, Merseyside has faced a budget cut of more than £60 million, which represents a 17% reduction in spending, and lost 800 police officers, more than 400 other police staff and more than 100 PCSOs—overall, a cut of almost 20% in staffing levels. Assuming a cut in the CSR not of 20% but of 25%, Merseyside would need to make further savings during this Parliament of £66 million. That would mean a cumulative cut across the decade of this Government of 35%, which would be one of the highest in the country—and in an area of social and economic need facing very big challenges. By the end of 2019, we would have lost 900, or one in four, police officers, 1,300 other staff, which, at 59%, would be the majority, and 78% of PCSOs.

My hon. Friends the Members for Halifax (Holly Lynch) and for Burnley (Julie Cooper) spoke powerfully about the impact of PCSOs. I have seen that in my own constituency. Jane Kennedy, the police and crime commissioner for Merseyside, has said we might have no PCSOs at all in Merseyside by the end of the Parliament. That is a very serious threat.