Home secretary's pledge over police budget amid concerns from South Yorkshire MP

Amber Rudd has given reassurances there are "no plans for further cuts" to the police budget amid concerns from a South Yorkshire MP that officers are overstretched.
Amber Rudd.Amber Rudd.
Amber Rudd.

The home secretary faced calls to guarantee cash to forces across the country, particularly in Yorkshire, as she appeared in the House of Commons for departmental questions.

Ms Rudd, in reply to Labour MP for Barnsley East Stephanie Peacock, said: "I can reassure you that there are no plans for further cuts, that the police budget has been protected between 2015 and 2020.

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"And I'd like to pay particular admiration to South Yorkshire Police, who recently launched a new neighbourhood policing model - moving significant resource into neighbourhood policing across the force's four districts, which shows exactly how well they're operating."

Ms Peacock had earlier told Ms Rudd: "A quarter of my local police force's operational strength has been cut since 2010.

"When I visited police in Barnsley this weekend they told me they're genuinely worried about how they will continue to operate at the same level if further cuts are made.

"Do you disagree with officers like those in Barnsley that additional cuts will have a severe impact on neighbourhood policing?"

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Ms Rudd suggested fire services merge with police forces to make savings so they can spend more on the front line.

Her comments came as shadow fire minister Chris Williamson told the Commons he had spoken to fire chiefs about the Government's "austerity obsession" which he said had led to "increased response times", among other issues.

Ms Rudd said she would ensure fire services are "always suitably funded."

She added: "One of the areas that they can have more funds is by making efficiencies by merging with police forces, and I'm delighted that a number of fire authorities are doing exactly that.

"The proposals are with us at the moment - they will be able to make efficiencies and spend more money on the front line."