On Monday afternoon in the House of Commons, the MP for Hove, Peter Kyle asked a question of the Prime Minister that discloses how important it is for newly elected MPs to carry out proper research before framing their concerns. It also shows how important it is for Policing to be addressed in a way that prevents Party Politics from interfering in the way in which operational work is carried out. The question was:
I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. I also thank him for the investment in security and intelligence announced last week, but restate that the frontline in intelligence and in responding to a terrorist attack is our local police forces. My local police force now regularly has only seven armed police officers on duty, and calls for help to neighbouring police forces have gone up by 43%. Can he assure the people of Brighton and Hove, who have a long history of dealing with terrorism, that should another terrorist attack happen, the local force can cope without calling on neighbouring forces?
The need for adequate funding for Police forces is well understood by all but certain sections of the Conervative Party since they were elected into the coalition in 2010. On Sunday Morning as part of the Sunday Politics programme Katy Bourne the Conservative Sussex PCC was quoted as being relaxed about future policing cuts. The Police have already had more cuts to their budget than many of us would have wished to see and future cuts are not something to be relaxed about, least of all by the person elected to represent residents of Sussex. However equally it is naïve to assume that any Police Force should endeavour to address operational issues such as terrorism alone. The best practice and skills needed to address acts such as terrorism is thankfully something that most Police Forces outside the Metropolitan Police have little opportunity to experience first hand. That said the need for all police officers and indeed all of us to recognise the indications of actions and behaviour which could have terrorist implications is vital. With 43 Police Forces across the UK it is one of British Policing’s strengths that each force can develop expertise in an interdependent rather than independent manner. With the changes to work more closely with Surrey Police taken over the last decade, it would be disturbing if joint operations had not increased year on year. Indeed Peter should have applauded Sussex Police and their neighbours for the joint work they carry out. Armed Policing is one of the functions now being carried out jointly with Surrey. The real issue that Peter should have been challenging the Government on is their commitment to funding policing at the current level for the life of this Parliament, that is the real point he should have made.