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Police Officer Safety

Part of Community Pharmacies – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 2nd November 2016.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Labour, Leigh 5:41 pm, 2nd November 2016

The outstanding speech by my hon. Friend Tracy Brabin was a truly memorable parliamentary occasion, as was the fine speech by my hon. Friend Holly Lynch. I do not often say this, but the other side of the Pennines has a lot to be proud of, including even Philip Davies. To elicit from him an emotional reaction and support for the Labour party is a truly big achievement, and my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen has managed that today.

This is an important and well-timed debate, because it provides me with an opportunity to put into proper context the recent work that I have been doing on policing. I am sure that some people might see challenging past injustice as in some way anti-police, but nothing could be further from the truth, and I am glad to have the chance to say that. I am pro-police, and I want to do whatever I can to strengthen the position of those out there on the frontline.

There are three ways in which we can do that. The first relates to police numbers and funding, and the second to protecting police officers through the powers we give them and through sentencing. The third is that we can build public trust in our police force by challenging past misdeeds. Unresolved past injustice can infect the present and unfairly leave a cloud hanging over officers on the frontline. It is right to remove it.

I want to touch on each of those three issues briefly. First, on funding, I am afraid that the Minister is wrong to say that the police budget has been protected. It has not been protected; it has been cut in real terms. Greater Manchester police’s revenue support grant was cut by £8.5 million this year, and the precept powers that it was given raised only £3.5 million. Let us get these facts straight, because otherwise the public will get confused. About 1,800 officers have already been lost from the frontline. We cannot take these cuts anymore. A story in The Mail on Sunday over the weekend said that the thin blue line of Greater Manchester is the thinnest of them all—it is the thinnest in the country. The cuts cannot continue. We need a commitment from the Government to honour their promise of no real-terms cuts to police budgets, because that has not happened.

Secondly, on protection for police officers, body-worn cameras need to be introduced now, because they can protect police officers today. We need a debate about the greater use of Tasers, and we really need to look at sentencing. I have mentioned the Dale Cregan situation previously, but there are other examples. An off-duty police officer, Neil Doyle, was killed in Liverpool. His attacker also committed a violent offence against two other individuals, but he only got three years and will soon be moved to an open prison.