The idea that MPs, Peers or in the worst case scenario, Government Ministers can tell lies and get away with it is surely one of the reasons why our Democracy has so little support from people in the UK. A few days ago I was invited to sign a petition which would make such dishonesty open to challenge. The petition is entitled “Make it a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly mislead Parliament” Although only 51 people have so far signed the petition, it didn’t take long before a classic case of trying to mislead Parliament emerged.
On Monday Louise Haigh, the shadow Policing Minister and MP for Sheffield Healy asked for a statement regarding the degradation of neighbourhood policing. The response from Nick Hurd was full of dishonest and misleading information. The big question is how will his deceits be challenged? His response was
“Crime and risk is changing but this Government continues to believe that good neighbourhood policing remains at the core of the British model of how we protect the public. That is why we are increasing total investment in the police system by over £460m in 2018-19, of which more than £280m from increased council tax precept will go direct to forces to spend locally.
It is for operationally independent Chief Constables to decide how to best deploy officers in their force area to effectively serve and engage their communities and to build their trust and confidence. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are elected by the public to hold Chief constables and the force to account; making the police answerable to the communities they serve.
HMICFRS has raised concerns about neighbourhood policing being eroded since the Government moved away from a centralised model. This year, inspectors found improvement but remain concerned about the balance between short-term response to demand, and longer-term prevention activity.
The College of Policing published guidelines on modernising neighbourhood policing in March 2018. This year’s HMICFRS effectiveness report recommended that forces review their approach by October 2018 against these standards. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has also established an implementation group to support forces.”
The three aspects are based on the fact that when the Government started to cut funding to Police forces when they arrived in the Government in 2010 that whatever they claim they believed in, their decision to make the cuts so deeply meant that neighbourhood policing was one of the relatively early casualties. The funding increase from the Government of £180m is all focused on specific elements which are not related to neighbourhood policing and the balance from council tax precept increases, while consented by the Government has had nothing more to do with them. Finally whatever the judgement of the HMICFRS is the erosion of neighbourhood policing has coincided with many changes in many areas of public life, but the move from Police Authorities to PCCs is not the cause of the severe problems, it is the funding cuts that have prevented neighbourhood policing from remaining in place that have achieved that. That is abundantly clear and there is no point in allowing Ministers like Nick Hurd to waste public money in answering questions if he is prepared to be so misleading in doing so. This is for me a very good reason for signing the petition in the hope that such matters then get addressed.