I completely agree, and it surprises me that there are not even more police officers off with stress, given the pressures they are under.
My right hon. Friend Andy Burnham referred to the cumulative effect of the cuts to local government and local services such as the fire service on the police’s ability to do their job. That endangers the resilience of the police service, because officers are being taken away to do things that are not their responsibility. Huge amounts of their time are taken up with mental health cases because of the stress on local authorities and the NHS, and that should not be the case.
In 2010, we had 7,300 police officers in my area; that is now down by 1,600. We are not making those figures up; the police and crime commissioner, the chief constable and the local commanders are not making them up, and they are not just taking those officers out of the system because they feel like it.
What we have with this Government is jiggery-pokery finance and jiggery-pokery figures. For years, we were told we really could not put the council tax precept up by more than 2%, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is now almost demanding that in relation to social care, and the Home Secretary is virtually demanding it. [Interruption.] She may well laugh, but that is the reality. She and her colleagues have told us over the years that we are spending too much through tax, but they then demand, for the sake of the Chancellor’s jiggery-pokery economics, that we put the put the precept up by 2%. That amounts to a fiddle; as my right hon. Friend said, it would amount to fraud in other circumstances, and those involved would be arrested.
My local police and crime commissioner has used £2.1 million of reserves, and there are now another £3.3 million of savings to be made, with £27 million of savings to be made by 2019-20. We also have to contend with the deferred blunder in the formula, which will come back to haunt us.
At the same time, crime is up. Hate crime is up, sexual offences are up, violent crime against women is up and knife crime is up. We will have to face those increases with less and less financial and human resource, notwithstanding the fact that Merseyside police service collaborates with the fire service in a joint command and control centre. We are doing what we can, but the police service can only do so much.
The Scottish Nationalist party spokesperson, Richard Arkless, asked how what happens with the British Transport police, the Ministry of Defence police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary will interplay with the effects on local forces. We need more answers.