By Mark Wallace
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It's good news in itself – protecting citizens against crime is an essential duty of any government. But this is also a key proof of concept for the Coalition. Crime has fallen while police budgets have been cut, and despite dire warnings from all sides: it turns out that more can indeed be delivered for less.
Paired with the early successes of Chris Grayling's prison reforms in reducing reoffending rates, this should be a major plank of the Conservative message at the next election – we have saved you money and misery by cutting spending and by stopping criminals.
Here are a few wider lessons we can learn from the process:
- Ignore the squealing: It wasn't just Labour who said crime would rise if police spending fell – it was the Police Federation, the Association of Chief Police Officers and just about every other vested interest group in the field. The Government were right to ignore the scaremongering and get on with doing the job.
- Radical doesn't always mean glamorous: The change in policing techniques, management structures and policies has been drastic, but for the most part it hasn't been all over the headlines. The Home Secretary has got on with the job of making radical change, and as a result can bask in the warm glow of success now the changes are working.
- A model to use elsewhere: This is a high profile proof of concept for the Coalition's claim that we can save money and improve services. As well as holding it up in public, we should also use it to insist on similar reforms in other parts of the public sector.
The Home Office brief has long been a task in bullet-dodging. Theresa May deserves high praise for turning it today into an opportunity to report successes, and set an example to other departments.