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Prime Minister asked if police chiefs are ‘crying wolf’ over funding

Jeremy Corbyn pressed Theresa May over her record, including as home secretary, telling MPs that violent crime is rising and police numbers are down.

Theresa May was challenged to explain if police chiefs are “crying wolf” over funding as Jeremy Corbyn claimed the public is “less safe”.

The Labour leader pressed the Prime Minister over her record, including as home secretary, telling the Commons that violent crime is rising, police numbers are down and chief constables say they “no longer have the resources to keep communities safe”.

Mrs May defended her actions and attacked the Opposition, claiming Mr Corbyn in power would “bankrupt Britain” and therefore the police would have “less money under Labour”.

Police funding dominated the pair’s exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions, the final one before the week-long February recess.

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Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Corbyn said: “Too many people don’t feel safe and too many people aren’t safe.

“We’ve just seen the highest rise in recorded crime for a quarter of a century.

“The Chief Constable of Lancashire said the Government’s police cuts have made it much more difficult to keep people safe. Is he wrong?”

Mrs May said she had previously asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to look at the recording of police crime to make sure forces were “doing it properly”, noting that some changes were made.

She added: “We also see £450 million extra being made available to police.”

The PM said forces are also taking more notice of vulnerable victims and doing more on modern slavery and domestic violence, adding: “Taking issues seriously that they weren’t taking seriously before.”

Mr Corbyn quoted funding concerns from the “far backbench” Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley), before adding: “Gun crime has increased by 20% in the last year.

“The Chief Constable of Merseyside said recently ‘Have I got sufficient resources to fight gun crime? No, I haven’t’.

“Does the Prime Minister think he is crying wolf?”

Mrs May replied: “You can’t get away from the fact that what the Government is doing is protecting police budgets – in fact, not just protecting police budgets but increasing, with £450 million extra.

“What we’re also doing is ensuring our police also have the powers that they need to do the job we want them to do. I seem to remember you don’t have that good record when it comes to increasing the powers for police to do their job.”

Mr Corbyn pressed further on funding, noting other public service cuts affecting youth centres workers and Probation Service workers are “clearly contributing to the rise in crime”.

He later said: “She was home secretary for six years – crime is up, violent crime rising. police numbers down and chief constables saying they no longer have the resources to keep communities safe.

“After seven years of cuts, will the Prime Minister today admit that her Government’s relentless cuts to police, probation services and social services have left us less safe? The reality is you can’t have public safety on the cheap.”

Mrs May replied: “You really need to reflect on what Labour would be doing if they were in government.”

She cited an adviser to shadow chancellor John McDonnell as suggesting there is a need to think about problems which could face a “radical” Labour government such as capital flight or a run on the pound.

The PM added: “That’s what Labour would do – bankrupt Britain, and the police would have less money under Labour than under the Conservatives.”

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