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The Minister knows that I have sought to work cross-party as much as possible to overcome some of the challenges in frontline policing—my Protect the Protectors campaign has had support from MPs across the House, and the 11 names on my ten-minute rule Bill, presented to the Chamber two weeks ago, represented five different political parties—but I am really struggling to recognise the picture he painted when he suggested that the funding formula was the fastest route to transformed, efficient and therefore better policing.
The Home Office has always sought to suggest that there is no correlation between a reduction in funding and the increased vulnerability of officers, which the Minister knows is an important issue to me, and the reduced service they can then offer. In the statement published with the police grant report, the Minister stated:
“The Government will provide the resources necessary for the police to do their critical work, and prioritise finishing the job of police reform by enabling the police to transform so they can tackle changing crime, deal with previously hidden crimes and protect the vulnerable.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 21WS.]
I struggle with the notion that cuts to policing facilitate reform, and that reform equates to better policing. In reality, since 2010, West Yorkshire police have lost 1,200 frontline officers and about 800 members of staff. It is undeniable that that has had an impact on their ability to do some of the basics, let alone respond to the increased complexity of crime and the social challenges that are now the responsibility of the police.
I have spoken at length about my experience of being out with officers in my constituency. While I welcome investment in technology and advances in forensics, which stand to make the police more effective than ever before, I know that in almost every aspect of policing, the number of boots on the ground really does matter. I appreciate that the Minister will stress that the allocations are protected at flat cash levels, compared with the previous financial year, but West Yorkshire police have faced cuts of £140 million since 2010, which is about 25% of their budget.