It is good to see my right hon. Friend the Policing Minister on the Front Bench. I have pursued him with vigour for some months on the issue of police funding, including for Warwickshire. I thank him for the efforts he has made, the case he has put to the Treasury and what has been achieved so far, with additional police funding this year of up to £970 million. My constituents will be pleased because we face some significant issues in my constituency at the moment. We suffer a lot of cross-border crime that comes from the larger cities in the west midlands— particularly crimes such as car key burglary, car jackings and burglary—and that has weighed heavily on my constituency in the last two years or so. I am therefore extremely grateful that extra resources will go to Warwickshire police, which it can use to bolster not only its response, but the prevention of those crimes.
Before I talk more about funding, I want to thank the police officers of Warwickshire for their determination and for the hard work they do for the people of Warwickshire. They do not always get it right, but they get it right in the vast majority of situations, which the public appreciate. The public in my area want to work with the police. We have a neighbourhood watch Facebook group made up of 15,000 residents, who provide the police with information about issues across my constituency.
For example, around Christmas time, there was a massive spate of car crime, including car key burglaries. Because of the work of the community and the police together, the person committing those crimes was apprehended. Unfortunately they only admitted to 15 of those crimes and, despite perpetrating a spate of crimes across the area and being a repeat offender, they received a measly three-month sentence. That is not a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister, but it is certainly one for the Justice Secretary. We must support police in our communities, but our courts and judicial system must also support our police to ensure that when they do their job, they are backed up.
Warwickshire is one of the smallest forces in the country, as the Minister knows. Our police and crime commissioner has been very happy with the last two settlements. He ran a significant consultation with local people on the precept to which 2,400 people responded, the vast majority of whom confirmed that they would be willing to spend an extra £2 per month—£24 a year—to see more police on the streets. As a result of last year’s changes, we see 50 more officers on the streets in Warwickshire. As a result of this year’s changes, we will see another 85 officers and another 15 police staff, including a number of investigators, who are extremely important in bringing offenders to book.
There is a balance to be struck with council tax. The public in my area have been quite content to pay some extra on their council tax in the last two years, but I am not sure that that is a good long-term strategy. Opposition Front Benchers seem to say that council tax takes money from local taxpayers and Government money is not taxpayers’ money, but of course it is all taxpayers’ money, so we need to strike a balance. Any money that the Government or police forces spend is taxpayers’ money.