I thank the Minister for that response. I receive a large number of emails and a lot of casework from constituents who are concerned about parity between rural and urban areas. We understand the challenges facing areas such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, but county lines operations mean that those challenges are also present in rural areas. I urge the Minister to speak to the Treasury about looking after rural policing in the spending review.
I receive representations from colleagues across the House who represent rural seats pointing out the specific challenges of policing a rural area. They also point out, as the evidence shows, that satisfaction with local police forces is lower in rural areas than in other areas. We are increasing police funding, and the Home Secretary has made it clear that it will be a priority in the spending review. In that context, I have also undertaken to reconsider how resources are allocated across the system to ensure that no one feels left behind.
Cumbria saw a 27% increase in crime last year—the third biggest increase in the country. With only eight police officers covering most of my constituency—an area the size of Greater London—that is hardly surprising, but it is dangerous and unacceptable. Will the Minister intervene immediately and provide the police and crime commissioner with the resources needed to keep our police officers and communities safe?
More money is going into policing, including in Cumbria, and more police officers are being recruited, including in Cumbria. Cumbria constabulary is rated good for efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will join me in congratulating its hard-working officers on achieving that.
While welcoming the increased officer numbers and police funding that were announced recently, does the Minister share my concern that towns such as Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard have far fewer officers than they had many years ago? This needs to be urgently addressed in the spending review, as it is the first duty of a Government to keep their citizens safe.
It is the first duty of a Government to keep the public safe and the Home Secretary and I could not have made it clearer that our priority going into the spending review is police funding. More money has gone into Bedfordshire police and we intend to take police funding as a priority into the next spending review.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman would welcome the additional public investment in North Wales police, as seems to be the case. That is part of a trend, which I hope he would welcome, of increased public investment in policing. If we want more to go into policing, we have to pay as taxpayers. Whether it comes from central Government or local government is not the point. He will know that most funding for local policing comes from the taxpayer through the centre. I will take no lectures on precepts from the Labour party, which doubled council tax when it was in power.