Policing (England and Wales)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:27 pm on 24th February 2020.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 6:27 pm, 24th February 2020

What can I say—nice try?

The National Audit Office recently said that the Home Office

“does not know if the police system is financially sustainable.”

That is the National Audit Office talking about Home Office Ministers.

However, the Government did not confine austerity to police officer numbers; they also cut thousands of police community support officers and thousands of police support and administrative staff. That has had two consequences. First, there has been a huge detriment to community policing, which is often the first eyes and ears on everything from vandalism and petty crime all the way through to terrorist threats. Secondly, the cuts to admin staff, often dismissively called “backroom staff” on the Government Benches, have meant that police officers have had to do more of their own admin work, so less time is available for police work as such.

The consequences have been terrible, as most of our constituents know. Compared with the previous year, the proportion of crimes resulting in a charge or summons fell by one percentage point, from 8.7% to 7.4%—the lowest ever recorded. That continues a downward trend since March 2015, when 15% of crimes were resolved with a charge or summons. No category of crime registered a majority of prosecutions. The sad fact is that too much crime goes undetected, largely because of a shortage of police officers, and therefore unpunished, and the public are all too well aware of that. It is truly shocking that the very lowest prosecution or summons rate was in cases of rape, with just one in 70 cases leading to charges. In all cases of violence against the person, just one in 13 cases led to charges or summonses. As we have argued consistently, cuts have consequences.