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MPs back police budgets amid calls for ‘wholesale investment’

Labour said the settlement left ‘communities exposed and the public at risk’.

A Tory backbencher has called on the Government to commit to a “wholesale investment in policing” as MPs approved forces’ budgets for next year.

Richard Drax told ministers there were “clearly issues with police funding” after Labour accused the Government of putting “the public at risk”.

MPs voted through the 2018/19 police grant by 295 votes to 239, majority 56, with minister Nick Hurd insisting funding was on the rise and accusing Labour of being in the “scaremongering, fake news business”.

Conservative MP Philip Davies joined Labour in voting against the motion.

During the debate, South Dorset MP Mr Drax shared his concern that “new crimes” such as modern slavery, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and cyber crime were “taking officers off the beat”.

He said: “I am a former solider and that’s where information and intelligence and holding the land if you like, or certainly dominating it in the case of Northern Ireland, patrolling in very troubled spots, that’s where the information came.

“That’s where the deterrent was formed on the streets and while all these other crimes are being investigated and the police officers, I give all credit to them, we must not lose sight of the fact that we do need, in my humble opinion, more officers the ground.”

He added: “The wholesale investment in policing, I do believe is needed.”

Speaking earlier in the debate, shadow policing minister Louise Haigh said the settlement on offer left “communities exposed and the public at risk”.

Ms Haigh added: “21,000 fewer police officers on our streets than there were when Labour left office in 2010, 17,000 fewer police staff who perform vital functions in investigations and 6,000 fewer PCSOs.

“Neighbourhood policing, the absolute bedrock of our model of policing has been decimated, an appalling legacy of this Government.”

Policing Minister Nick Hurd earlier dismissed the accusation however, saying the proposed measures would see more money for every police force.

Money from the Government would be maintained at its current levels, he said, while police and crime commissioners would then have greater flexibility to raise their council tax precepts by an extra £1 per month.

He said police forces would have more than £1 billion extra in 2018/19 compared to 2015/16 as a result of the changes, and could maintain their funding in real terms.

“It sounds very much like Labour now are very much in the scaremongering, fake news business, totally detached from reality,” said Mr Hurd.

“Tonight, Labour MPs will vote against £450 million of increased funding for policing, including a £70 million uplift on counter-terrorism in the face of the worst terrorist threat for a generation.”

Shipley MP Mr Davies, who has urged the Government to put more resources into policing, was the only Tory MP to vote against the motion.

Labour’s Wes Streeting told the Commons: “The flat cash settlement that (Mr Hurd) is announcing today means that any increase in the precept will be wholly spent on additional resources for the police.

“That is simply not true. The truth is the Government is cutting the resources they’re giving to every police force in the country, and they’re asking residents to foot the bill for a poorer service.

“That’s a total disgrace and he should stop attempting to misdirect people who are following this debate.”

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