As funding for the police increases, we have made it clear that we want to see more consistent, proactive neighbourhood policing, which is the cornerstone of the British policing model.
I thank the Minister for his reply, but my police and crime commissioner has cut the number of warranted officers by more than 500 since 2010, and, despite the efforts of my brilliant local police, only two are now allocated to Kidsgrove. We have seen a spike in threatening antisocial behaviour in the past month, with some people now refusing to go to the local park. I will not have no-go areas in my constituency, so what will the Minister do?
I am a bit puzzled by what the hon. Lady says, because I have spoken to her police and crime commissioner, the excellent Matthew Ellis, and he is extremely animated about how he is going to use the additional money from the funding settlement to move 100 more people into neighbourhood policing by the year end and to get behind proactive policing to disrupt crime, including drug dealing, in hotspots. I hope that she welcomes such plans, and she certainly needs to sit down and discuss them with him.
We all agree about the importance of neighbourhood and community policing, but does the Minister agree that effective community policing does not rely on police officers having degrees? Yes, it is critical that we have enough officers; yes, it is crucial that they have common sense; but does he agree with me and other blue collar Conservatives that it is ridiculous to say that all police officers must have a degree, as proposed?
They do not need a degree to go into policing; that is what the apprentice route is for. I know plenty of people with degrees who would make very poor police officers. What we are keen to do is upskill the force and, critically, ensure that the very considerable skills that people coming out of policing have developed are accredited.
Northumbria police has lost a quarter of its funding and 1,000 police officers due to Government cuts. Labour’s candidate in the police and crime commissioner elections on Thursday is so concerned that she has raised a petition to reverse the cuts. Will the Minister send the next Prime Minister a message that he cares about community policing and sign Kim’s petition?
Northumbria police has had its funding increased by £18 million in a process that the hon. Lady opposed. The excellent Conservative candidate in those elections—Robbie Moore, whom I have met—is absolutely committed to neighbourhood policing, as are this Government. We are making police funding a priority.
Investment in neighbourhood policing looks set to become even more difficult following last month’s Supreme Court ruling that the Government’s post-2015 pension changes were unlawful. This ruling affects tens of thousands of public servants, including police officers, who have no negotiating rights and have had these discriminatory changes imposed on them. Will there be an industrial resolution to this mess for officers who have been left in limbo, and will funding for policing be protected when the Treasury finally brings forward measures to remedy this illegal discrimination?
The Government have made very clear the priority that we attach to police funding. We are increasing funding, through council tax and other measures, by up to £1 billion this year. The Home Secretary and I have made it quite clear that police funding is our priority, as have the candidates for the roles of leader of our party and the next Prime Minister. In relation to the very important judgment—it is extremely significant—against which the Government cannot appeal, it is for my colleagues in the Treasury to make a considered response.