Police, Fire and Rescue Services: Funding Reductions — [Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:58 am on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 9:58 am, 20th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It is not sufficient to be reactive; we should proactively address these issues. That should be one of the key messages from the debate. Many Opposition colleagues have participated in Westminster Hall debates about electrical safety. It continues to be a massive issue, and we need to be proactive about it.

The same can be said for policing. We have some phenomenal officers, who work hand in hand with community workers to address problems on estates, yet the funding is not there to ensure that there are community workers on shifts at all times. I am a great believer in community policing—I always have been. I was probably reared in community policing, in my former life as a councillor. The relationship between the community officers, the estates and the people was phenomenal. Unfortunately, when those officers retired or moved on, that relationship fell by the way, which was a loss and a sadness.

The funding is not in place to ensure community workers are on shift at all times. Regular officers who are not up to speed with dynamics and who act as they are trained flare tensions, whereas a team who have built up a relationship would have been able to settle those tensions. How much of a talent it is to be able to solve, or salve, problems, rather than inadvertently inflaming emotions. That is down to a lack of funding. The losers are entire areas.

As I said, there are things that we cannot scrimp on, and the police and the fire services are one of them. I add my voice to those of Members who have called and will call for appropriate ring-fenced funding.