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Policing Minister: Officer numbers are not for me to decide

Delegates are unimpressed by performance

Loud groans were heard throughout the Police Federation Conference hall today as the Policing Minister attempted to argue crime is down.

After a speech which exceeded his time, cutting into the time allocated for questions from the floor, Brandon Lewis was asked by the event’s compere if he could make the police more efficient by enabling more officers to be hired.

He replied: “The reality is we don’t run policing from the centre, it’s not for me to decide how many police officers any police force needs. It’s a matter for police and crime commissioners how a police force uses their budget.”

Presenter Ian Collins asked the minister if he thought police were able to do the same job with 20 per cent fewer officers.

Mr Lewis raised groans from throughout the room when he said: “As you know whilst numbers fell, crime came down by a third.” Though he acknowledged that recorded crime is up, and said this is a good thing as victims are more confident coming forward.

“It’s easy for a politician to make promises you can’t fund. The phenomenal work done by police forces means traditional crime has fallen. We have to make sure that chiefs in their areas have the support networks in place to help them,” he added.

Pressed on police funding he claimed while it was cut up to 2015, it had been protected since and some force areas had seen an increase in funding since then due to increases in council tax.

He left the stage without answering any questions from officers present.

Speaking after the speech, Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter told “There’s a reluctance to accept reality which is that crime is increasing and we simply don’t have the resources to deal with it.

“Government can’t absolve their responsibility by passing it onto chief constables because it is the government who have put us in the state we’re in.”

Elsewhere in his speech the minister praised the work of the College of Policing and said it is leading police reforms which will help the performance of law enforcement.

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