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Police Grant Report | Commons debates

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, which is absolutely right. Police feel demoralised because of their pay, the way they were treated during covid, and the fact that they cannot get done the job they are so desperate to do. On top of that, there have been the awful cases that have put them into public attention as never before. Yes, police are very demoralised. I thank the Police Federation for its survey, which shows how acute the problem is. That is reflected by the record numbers of people leaving the force.

I have talked to hardworking police officers who are in despair about what is happening. Brave officers who run towards danger when the rest of us run away tell me how little support or leadership they get from the Government to deal with the growing challenges. The Minister’s written statement sets out his national priorities. They include investing in a victim satisfaction survey, but what about bringing forward the Victims’ Bill? Another is prioritising commitments from the rape review, but why not put a rape and serious sexual offences, or RASSO, unit in every police force? Tackling exploitation, abuse and modern slavery is another priority, so why are the Minister’s Government in breach of their own anti-slavery laws by failing to appoint a new Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner? The Minister also mentioned tackling county lines, so why will he not support Labour’s plan to outlaw the grooming and criminal exploitation of children and crack down on criminal gangs?

The Minister is asking forces to save £100 million and he is investing in IT capabilities, but let us look at the emergency services network programme: £5.1 billion of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on that botched Home Office project. That is nearly a third of the overall police budget and it is close to the entire precept allocation for this year, if every force uses it in full. How about some efficiency savings from this Minister for the emergency services network project? It is an unthinkable waste of money, and it is incredibly grating for struggling households to know that higher council tax bills might have been avoided if Ministers had not catastrophically messed up the network.

So there we are, that is the context in which this police grant motion is being debated. After 13 years of failure from this Government—13 years of sitting back and leaving it to individual forces and then pushing blame on them when things go wrong—the police grant motion is just another sticking plaster that will not fix the problems our police face. Where the Conservatives push blame to local forces and never take the lead, a Labour Government will fix this mess that the Government have created. The next Labour Government will work with the police, while the Tories turn their backs. We will put neighbourhood police back on our streets, deliver proper local partnerships to prevent crime, respond to mental health crises and crack down on dangerous criminals. A Labour Government means safer streets, safer homes and safer communities.