The Government are proposing a total police funding settlement approaching £17,000 million in 2022-23, an increase of up to £1,100 million compared with this year. Assuming full take-up of precept flexibility, overall police funding available to police and crime commissioners will increase by a whopping £796 million next year.
I am pleased to hear that that substantial award from the safer streets fund is making a difference in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and of course I would be more than happy to meet him to talk about how we can better fight crime in his patch.
Vale of Glamorgan, like many rural areas, experiences horrendous animal welfare incidents, from illegal dog breeding and hare coursing to fly-grazing and horse neglect. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating Chief Inspector Rees and her team of officers on how they have used the additional resources that have been made available to combat some of the worst crimes we could possibly imagine?
I am more than happy to join my right hon. Friend in congratulating his local police force on their work in this area, and I am pleased to hear that his non-human constituents are as important to him as the human ones. He will be aware that some of these truly appalling crimes need to be addressed much more assertively, and I hope he has noticed that, in the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, we are tabling amendments specifically on hare coursing, which will help to fight that awful crime.
Bearing in mind the security statement coming after this question session, will my right hon. Friend assure me that he is working with both law enforcement and security services to understand what more can be done to increase capacity to counter hostile activity that has the potential to damage democracy but operates below the legal threshold?
I know this is a matter of concern to the whole House, which I know is to be addressed by the Home Secretary shortly. As I hope my hon. Friend knows, police capacity—that relates specifically to the question—has been increased not just in territorial policing but in other arms of policing, recognising as we do that, while it is important to fight crime on the ground in all our constituencies, it is also important to fight it there as well.
I am pleased that the Government are well on their way to delivering on their pledge to deliver 20,000 police officers, 867 of whom are in the west midlands, but does my right hon. Friend agree that the decision by the Labour police and crime commissioner to close Solihull police station goes a long way to undermining safety and security for my constituents in the north and the south of my constituency?
My hon. Friend will know that there was a passionate Adjournment debate just the other night to discuss issues in west midlands policing. As I said during that debate, it is strange that at a time of unprecedented expansion in UK policing, the impression is being given, in his constituency and elsewhere, of a retreat. I was in the west midlands on Thursday and I know that the chief constable and others are working hard to get on top, but I would hope that in the light of the expansion of policing in my hon. Friend’s part of the world, their property strategy would be reviewed again.
Workers in local food shops in Cambridge have had a tough time in recent years, facing organised shoplifting and threats of violence. It took the intervention of E. J. Matthews, a notable PC, to help to sort that out, but they are now facing organised ramraids. What resources can be made available to Cambridgeshire police to tackle this awful crime?
As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, Cambridgeshire police has expanded quite significantly, in terms of pure police numbers, over the past couple of years, but I hope he will also have noticed the work that is being done by the national retail crime steering group, which I chair, to look specifically at crime in this area. Given what he has mentioned about ramraiding in his constituency, I will go away and look at whether a pattern is emerging across the east of England and hope that I can encourage the police to address it.
The Minister has just said that there is an unprecedented expansion, but back in the real world, antisocial behaviour increased by 7% last year: it is a growing problem across so many communities in my constituency and around the country. Although the new officers are beginning to come on-stream, does he even begin to understand the damage that the cuts not only to police numbers but to services such as youth services have done to communities like the ones I represent?
Year on year, last year and the year before, we actually saw a fall in police-recorded incidents of antisocial behaviour, but we have seen fluctuations in that crime type over the past few months as the variations in covid lockdown regulations have changed. We are keeping a close eye on it. The hon. Gentleman will have noticed that in our “Beating crime plan”, published in July last year, we encouraged police and crime commissioners—I hope he will encourage his to do this as well—to form their own antisocial behaviour taskforces so that they can really pinpoint and address this most local of crime problems very effectively.
The Minister will be aware that proper community policing is vital for preventing crime and saving lives, yet across London, since the Prime Minister was Mayor, we have seen community policing slashed, and in Richmond borough, in particular, we see our officers routinely extracted to other events. Yet in the same period knife crime has doubled. He will be aware that in September there was the fatal and brutal stabbing of an 18-year-old Afghan refugee and college student in Twickenham. So when will we see a boost to community policing in the Twickenham constituency and across Richmond borough, as this Government have promised us so many extra police officer numbers since 2019?
The hon. Lady is stretching it a bit to say that crime over the past three or four years was the fault of the previous Mayor, who has not been in office for some time; she may not have noticed. It is hard to notice who is in office in London at the moment. Nevertheless, I hope she will welcome the recent decision by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to reinstitute neighbourhood policing, and that she will see the extra numbers of police officers—many hundreds—that have now been recruited in London appearing in her constituency soon.
Current recruitment is welcome, of course, but will the Minister at least acknowledge and be honest with the House that there are 24,000 fewer police officers, police community support officers and staff in the police workforce since 2010 because of this Government’s cuts, and that has a real impact?
I will certainly acknowledge that police numbers fell post the 2010 election, but only as long as the hon. Lady acknowledges that her party crashed the economy, causing us to make much-needed and very vital economies in our national spending. If we had not undertaken those economies, God knows what financial state we would have been in now, following what we have had to do during the pandemic.
The great town of Tunstall sadly missed out on its recent safer streets fund bid. Analysis from Staffordshire police and Stoke-on-Trent City Council shows that we suffer disproportionately from more burglary, aggressive begging and feral youths committing antisocial behaviour, so we want to see improved lighting, CCTV extended and gates for alleyways. Will my hon. Friend agree to meet me so that he can hear about this bid and why the great town of Tunstall deserves this investment?
I am certainly happy to meet my hon. Friend. We will see future rounds of the safer streets fund, and I hope his police and crime commissioner and his local authority will make a bid. I will be more than happy to meet him, not least because the commitment and conviction he shows should be at the forefront of their bid to convince us all to fund this.