It seems you cannot open a newspaper these days, with the notable exception of course of the Portsmouth News, without the police being criticised in one way or another.
The headlines say our police are not focused on the right things. That they have not achieved much. They are too ‘woke’…or not ‘woke’ enough. That they have, in certain parts of the country, let their communities and their own service down.
Some of these things are undoubtedly the case in particular forces and particular circumstances. But they are not the whole story, just a fraction of it.
I want to stand up for our police. They do an incredible service for our community. Our local police have continually impressed me. Not just in the results they get but also the unsung, unmeasured work they do day in and day out. Chasing up other services to help a vulnerable person who needs social support. Following up with schools regarding children who have gotten into trouble. Dealing with families in crisis and with mental ill health cases other services are not picking up. Their examples of courage are celebrated at the recent police bravery awards.
This government has made police officer recruitment a priority. In our local force we have an additional 600 officers and a further 50 are in train. We are bringing back the local bobby with every community across Hampshire having a named local officer. Our traffic police cover vast areas, and police do a huge amount to prevent as well as solve crime.
But that again is only part of the story.
Since 2010, thanks to the hard work of our police and the agencies that support them, crime (except online offences) has halved. In the last 4 years alone it has fallen by 18 per cent. In the same time period violent crime is down 9 per cent, theft including domestic burglary is down 23 per cent and domestic burglary by 34 per cent. That has been done with only slightly more resources than we historically had. It has been done by working smarter and new innovations by frontline officers.
We now have a new Chief Constable. When he joined the force at 18 years old, Cosham was his first police station. And our Police and Crime Commissioner was Leader of Portsmouth council and a ward councillor in Hilsea. I know how much our area will mean to both of them.
We need to build on the achievements in recent years and I know they both have ambitious plans.
We need to do more, that is why we have announced new measures on anti-social behaviour. It is why we have introduced tougher sentences for the most horrific crimes. And why we have taken new sensible measures to stop people from reoffending and going back to prison. We will soon have a new Blue-Light hub in Cosham, are building additional prison places and are focussed on tackling addiction. We will continue to focus on reducing crime in this area… I know how important it is to quality of life in Portsmouth.
I want to thank our local force for all they have and continue to do for us all. We don’t say that often enough. We can never thank them enough.