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Policing

Part of Opposition Day — [9th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 6:16 pm on 4th November 2015.

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Photo of Peter Kyle Peter Kyle Labour, Hove 6:16 pm, 4th November 2015

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is a pleasure to be called to speak by you. Most often when I have spoken in the Chamber it is you who have called me, so I am always relieved to see you walk through the doors. [Interruption.] I shall say something nice about the Minister in a second as well, so he should prepare himself.

It is interesting to follow my hon. Friend Cat Smith. We have heard from hon. Members who have been affected by crime and there are many different perspectives on crime and policing both sides of the House. I welcome those and enjoyed listening to them because it is important to get different perspectives. I have seen the impact and importance of policing from many different perspectives and angles. I have been a victim of crime—a victim of serious crime—and saw at first hand during that experience the humanity, professionalism and determination of good policing. When I hear from Conservatives who have had experience of policing, from the Minister to Byron Davies, I never fail to have respect for their profession and the dedication they showed when they were serving, even though I disagree with the conclusions they draw. Similarly, my hon. Friend Paula Sherriff spoke about her work with victims of crime, which she did for 10 years. I saw that work at first hand too, and have absolute admiration for it.

I have spent time work shadowing with Sussex police. I recommend that all hon. Members do that if they have the opportunity. I spent time with the antisocial and hate crime unit in Brighton and Hove police—it is one of the very few police forces to have a dedicated unit for antisocial behaviour and hate crime. I learned an extraordinary amount about the complex work they do, and about the interdepartmental work they do on the ground, working with councils, social services and so forth to make policing integrated and to make it work for the long term.

As an MP, I see things from another angle, particularly representing Brighton and Hove. It is a complex place to police. We have 8 million visitors to our city every year and two universities, which bring with them specific opportunities and challenges. We have the highest number of pubs and clubs outside London. Being a party town is great fun, but it brings with it a price to police. We have very diverse communities. Some of the most privileged communities in our country are in the city of Brighton and Hove, but we also have communities in the bottom 3% for deprivation in the whole country. We also have Pride, which brings in 200,000 people.

I understand that good policing underpins our economy, something that has not been mentioned enough in the debate. Our economy in Brighton and Hove is dominated by retail, small and micro-businesses, small traders and the self-employed. Our economy is not hidden away in tall buildings with private security on the front door. Our economy happens on community high streets and people’s neighbourhoods. That requires good, solid community policing. Our economy needs a safe space to thrive.

Sussex police have already implemented a 20% cut, as a result of which 500 front-line staff have gone. This is where I extend an olive branch across the House. I have had many frank conversations about this matter. Kit Malthouse was slightly patronising earlier when he suggested that we needed to get out and speak to police. We do, and they have told us about their innovation and what they did to survive the first round of 20% cuts. In many cases, these are examples of best practice, doing more for less and learning from experience. There has been innovation, but the CPR will mean a further cut of between 25% and 40%. To put that in context, of its current budget of £250 million, my police force could lose up to £96 million. I do not believe Conservative Members who say that this will not have a direct impact on the frontline. Add to that a funding formula that could take another 5.1% away from our police force, and it is impossible to see how this is anything other than a Government waging a war against policing in cities such a Brighton and Hove.