Police Funding, Crime and Community Safety

Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Transitional State Pension Arrangements for Women – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 24th February 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim McMahon Jim McMahon Labour, Oldham West and Royton 6:29 pm, 24th February 2016

I thank my right hon. Friend Andy Burnham for opening this debate and allowing so many interventions. We have been able to take part in a very active and constructive debate.

As much as we talk about numbers, it is important that we talk about the crux of the issue, which is how it affects the people we are here to represent and their everyday experience of the changes to the police service. I have wondered throughout the debate what the Home Secretary thinks is the measure of success, because I am struggling to understand it. We talk about police numbers, which are important for some but not for others. We talk about crime figures, and some will say they are accurate and some will say not. We talk about the number of police stations and facilities, but are they important or not? It is very difficult for me and for a lot of people in the community to fully understand what on earth is going on with policing in this country.

I can say, though, that in Greater Manchester the number of police cut is now over 2,000. The Minister knows that, because the House of Commons Library has provided that information and so it is on the public record, but he might not know that the number of police stations in Oldham borough has gone down dramatically. The police station in Royton has closed, the police station in Failsworth has closed, the Limeside police post has closed, the Chadderton police post has closed, Uppermill police station has been downgraded, and the custody cells at Oldham police station have been closed. On top of that—of course, justice is not isolated to the police—the magistrates court and the county court are closing. The Minister will not know how many police stations are closing in Oldham, because when I wrote to the Home Office to ask whether it collated information on that, it said it did not, so it does not even know how many police stations are open. That is very significant. Tomorrow, the police station in Failsworth will be sold to the highest bidder at public auction. The irony is that just down the road is Failsworth lodge, which Sir Robert Peel attended to be taught as a private school-educated youngster, and now the police station in that town is being sold.

Crime is up by 14% in Greater Manchester. Sexual offences are up by 46%, violent crime is up by 36%, shoplifting is up by 9%, vehicle crime is up by 8%, and theft is up by 5%—little wonder, with fewer police and fewer police stations, and £200 million taken from Greater Manchester police. Were it not for the police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd—a fantastic advocate for policing—and the hard-working and dedicated police officers, the situation would no doubt be far worse. It cannot continue, because on top of all that we have lost community centres, youth centres and youth workers. We talk about prevention, and that community infrastructure is absolutely crucial for finding out what happening on the ground to help the police service do what it does best.