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My right hon. Friend makes a really good point. The first thing to do is to listen to what police officers are saying. The Government seem to be living in a parallel universe. They say the funding is fine, there is no problem with police morale and there is no problem with police numbers, yet, like my right hon. Friend, we all see very real problems in our constituencies around morale and policing.
As my right hon. Friend says, we see the backdrop of huge cuts to police numbers, with nearly 20,000 cut since 2010. In my force in Nottinghamshire, the number of officers is down by 122 and the number of PCSOs by 62 since 2012. The only response of Ministers to that seems to be that it has no impact whatsoever on policing on our streets.
I want to draw the Minister’s attention to an excellent article in The Mail on Sunday this week, which revealed the really low numbers of police on duty at night, when many of the most serious crimes are committed. It had a table obtained by a freedom of information request with the number of response officers on duty on the nightshift of
It is not good enough for the Minister to say that it is an operational matter. Do the Government not have a view on the number of front-line officers there should be protecting the public, rather than turning around and saying, “It’s nothing to do with us. It’s an operational matter”? Surely the Government should take a view on that matter and discuss it with chief constables.
It is important to draw attention to the article in The Mail on Sunday that refers to the number of response officers. It is clear that police safety is put at risk by the increase in police officers having to go out on their own. There are not sufficient officers and it is about time the Government took a view on that, rather than washing their hands of it. I look forward to the Minister’s response on that.