Covid-19: Public Order

Home Department – in the House of Commons on 13th July 2020.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

What steps her Department is taking to maintain public order during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Conservative, North Devon

What steps her Department is taking to maintain public order during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Home Office has been working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council every single day throughout the covid crisis, not only to back the police when it comes to law enforcement but, equally importantly, to ensure that they are resourced throughout covid to provide the support required for frontline police officers.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

During this covid period, many coastal communities have found themselves under threat from mass gatherings—in my constituency, Ogmore-by-Sea is one example and Barry Island is another. Will my right hon. Friend join me in sending the strongest message that such behaviour will not be tolerated? Will she support the police and pay tribute to them for the strong action they are taking to ensure that coastal communities can be enjoyed by families and by tourists who want to visit and enjoy our fantastic resources?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I have visited his constituency in the past and know how beautiful it is. I commend the officers and the police chief for all the work that they have been doing. My right hon. Friend is right to want that area to protected for local residents so that it can be enjoyed responsibly. There is of course no scope at all for antisocial behaviour. We have been continuing to support the police to make sure that they have been equipped throughout this covid crisis to police effectively and encourage the right and responsible kinds of behaviours.

Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Conservative, North Devon

Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the investment made just last week by the Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner, Alison Hernandez, to provide an additional half a million pounds in emergency funding to 20 tourism hotspots in our two counties—including two in my North Devon constituency—to help to prevent alcohol-related antisocial behaviour following the lifting of lockdown? Will she commit to look at how such additional covid-related costs can be supported by the Government?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I commend everybody locally for the fantastic work that they have been doing across policing and, of course, I commend my hon. Friend and her police and crime commissioner as well. She is right to raise the additional costs of covid—in fact, my hon. Friend the Policing Minister has already touched on the fact that we are in discussions with the Treasury. It is inevitable that extra costs have arisen, whether for PPE or the additional hours that police officers have been given. That work is ongoing, but at this point I would like to commend everybody for the great work that they have been doing throughout this crisis.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I fully agree with the Home Secretary about supporting the work that the police do to maintain public order, but I cannot help but feel that although the Home Secretary talks a good game, we have not seen much evidence of action. We have seen a marked decline in the number of public-order trained officers and police support units on this Government’s watch, and the recruitment that she talks about simply will not replace that decline and will take a lot of time. What is the Home Secretary doing now—today—to support chief constables to deal with these pressures and to ensure that our frontline officers have the proper resources and the training they need?

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is absolutely right that, through the recruitment and investment that this Government are putting into policing—the largest ever policing funding settlement, certainly for the past decade, of more than a billion pounds—

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Shadow Minister (Home Office)

You sacked them all—that is why you are having to recruit new ones.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

No, I have not sacked them all, to be quite frank—

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Secretary of State for the Home Department

Our investment in policing is the largest investment in over a decade, and that is something that every single police chief around the country is supporting. The hon. Gentleman should take stock of the fact that when he speaks to police chiefs—as I do every single day and as my hon. Friend the Policing Minister does every single day—he will hear that they welcome the investment in not only new officers but training. The money that has been put in to invest in new officers also covers a wide range of training. That is training that has gone into the national College of Policing. That is training and investment in the professional development—[Interruption.] It is taking place now. That is training and investment in the professional development of our police officers. That is something that we should all be proud of.