Violent crime is rising after years of cuts to the police. The latest figures, published last month by the Office for National Statistics, show that there were 65,914 violent crimes in the area served by West Midlands police between September 2017 and September 2018. That figure is 26% higher than the previous year, which saw stalking and harassment rise by 54%. I ask the Minister to take a moment to let those statistics sink in. Violent crime rose by more than a quarter in one year. The Secretary of State assures us that the number of police and the depth of the cuts do not directly cause crime to rise. Will he come to my constituency and tell residents that? Will he come and look my constituents in the eye and tell them that under the Conservatives the 25% drop since 2010 in the total, full-time equivalent police workforce in the west midlands has played no role in the rise of violent crime?
On the frontline in the west midlands, we have lost more than 2,000 officers over the last eight years. That means 2,000 fewer officers serving the people of the west midlands and keeping us safe; 2,000 fewer officers to respond to reports; and 2,000 fewer officers to catch those responsible for committing crimes. Victims are being let down. Crimes are being reported but not responded to because there are not enough officers to deal with them.
Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services found that 22% of violent crimes were reported by the public but not recorded. The huge cuts to our police forces have affected not only police officer numbers but the number of community support officers, which has fallen a staggering 40% under the Conservatives. How much longer can this go on? West Midlands police has been forced to make hard choices since 2010. Some £175 million of central Government cuts have hit not only police officer numbers but other essential resources, and the proposal before us leaves those levels static.
I have constituents calling my office and coming to my surgeries who feel unsafe and scared. They are appalled that this Government have consistently and savagely refused adequately to support our police force and protect our communities, so I call on the Home Secretary to listen to the concerns of the police and our residents, and to reconsider this new settlement so that we support the police in reversing the unacceptable rise in crime. It is not right that my constituents have had to set up street watch groups due to the lack of police officers.