ST HELENS North MP Conor McGinn's claims that crime was on the rise because of cuts led to a clash in the Commons with a Government minister.

According to Mr McGinn crime in St Helens and across the country is up because police officer numbers have been slashed by the government’s continued austerity programme.

Mr McGinn said police numbers are now at the lowest level in 30 years, with 21,000 police officers cut since 2010.

During a debate in the House of Commons, Mr McGinn asked Nick Hurd, Minster of State, about the cuts and its effects on crime figures saying: “The Minister said he’s received three messages (from me), let me give him a fourth one from the people of St Helens.

 “Anti-social behaviour – up, robbery, theft and burglary – up, and sex crimes up. Police funding – down, police numbers, down. What’s he going to do about it?”

Mr Hurd replied: "On one level, I understand what the hon. gentleman is saying, but increased funding is going into his police system, and if he actually tells an honest story to his constituents about crime, he will refer them to the national crime survey,which shows that crime, in the experience of his constituents, continues to fall, alongside the national trend.”

He added: “In terms of the shape of the settlement, I want to be clear that there will be no reductions in the amount of core grant paid to any PCC.”

Police budgets were cut by £2.3 billion in real terms between 2010-15 and the Government, has, claimed Mr McGinn, already broken promises made by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to protect funding, slashing it by more than £400 million since 2015.

In Merseyside, Mr McGinn says £82 million has been cut from the police budget and the force has lost 1,000 frontline officers.

There have been significant changes to the local policing operations, with St Helens officers and detectives now working across Knowsley and some patrol officers based in Kirkby.

Mr McGinn, who has held talks with Merseyside Chief Constable Andy Cooke over pressures to policing, has also expressed concerns that the St Helens custody suite is currently not in operation and asked for reassurances that its presence will continue.

He added: “I took the Minister to task for this shocking record, which is simply not good enough for people in St Helens or for communities up and down the country."