The Home Office has today confirmed the officer recruitment targets for police forces for the first year of the unprecedented drive to increase their ranks by 20,000 over the next three years.

Strengthening police numbers is a priority for the Government, which is providing £750 million to support forces to recruit up to 6,000 additional officers onto our streets by the end of 2020-21, the first stage in this new uplift.

Police forces in the South West will be able to recruit a total of 423 new officer, including 49 new officers in Wiltshire, which will increase their officer numbers by 5%.

James Gray MP endorsed this announcement stating that:

“I was pleased to hear that Wiltshire Police will be able to recruit 49 more officers in year one of the three-year national campaign to recruit 20,000 officers. Wiltshire Police do a fantastic job for our community; I hope that this new funding will allow them to continue to meet the real pressures they face, and be more able to help prevent crime and better support victims of crime. It is an announcement which I wholeheartedly support.

Wiltshire in one of the safest of all Counties, but that should not blind us to the rise in rural crime, and especially in knife crime. We are also a target for the ‘County Lines’ drug gangs, and must be vigilant for the harm which they cause. These extra officers will play a crucial role in Keeping Wiltshire Safe.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

“The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside. This is the people’s priority and it is exactly what the Government is delivering.

This means there will be more than 400 more officers across the South West, helping to reassure communities and keep them safe.”

All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies. They are also on top of the extra officers already being recruited because of the £1 billion increase in police funding for 2019-20, which includes money from council tax and for serious violence.

During Questions for The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the House of Commons on Thursday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray praised the role that British institutions have played in tackling climate change. Mr Gray stated:

“One way in which the UK can truly lead the world in this generational battle against climate change is through climate science, in particular polar science. In that respect, I pay tribute to the father of the hon. Member for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin), after whom the McMorrin glacier in Antarctica is named. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State join me in congratulating ​British scientists in universities and institutions throughout Britain, who make a vast contribution to polar and climate science, and will she, today of all days, pay tribute to the launch of SS David Attenborough from Birkenhead, and perhaps make passing tribute to the great man himself?”

Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy agreed with Mr Gray’s statement, responding that:

“Yes, the RSS David Attenborough—“Boaty McBoatface”—is launching today. I am always delighted to pay tribute to David Attenborough, whose series on Earth and our oceans have brought home to so many people the urgent need for action. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (James Gray), himself a bit of an Arctic explorer who has done a great deal to highlight climate change, and we should be grateful to him for that.”

The Secretary of State was speaking following the UN climate action summit in New York and stressed that action must be taken to tackle the climate crisis that the planet is facing. This is an issue which James Gray is extremely passionate, and following the debate he added that:

“Climate change is real; it is here; and it is our doing. We must now act- dramatically and decisively- to halt; and then, we hope, reverse it. I am proud of the Government’s record on climate change, but there is always more to do. That is why I am so glad that British scientists and individuals such as David Attenborough are leading the way to tackle this growing problem.”

James Gray MP has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, asking him to encourage the reform mental healthcare in the UK. In the letter, James gave his support for the Child Mental Health Charter, and supported the calls upon the Government to make this the blueprint for new Mental Health legislation in 2019.

James Gray MP stated:

“I am glad to have been able to support this initiative which seeks to support the emotional well-being and mental health of children. Action is needed to tackle the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems experience in the provision of healthcare services. We need to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated as such.

It was fantastic that this Charter provides such a well thought out and thorough approach to the provision of mental health care services, that can go some way to supporting both the children, and their parents and carers. I truly hope that the Government will carry out the Prime Minister’s pledge to reform mental health legislation soon, as it is an extremely important issue.”

The Child Mental Health Charter was announced on the 15th March 2019, and it focuses on the needs of children and their emotional well-being. The Charter calls upon the Government to bring forward Mental Health legislation in 2019 following the Prime Minister’s November 2018 pledge to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act. Mrs May’s vision for a new NHS plan affirmed that resources from a total investment of £2.3bn would be allocated to support 350,000 children and young people living with mental health conditions, and offers an opportunity for Parliament to act now to make a positive difference in the lives of children and their families.

The Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, James Gray joined, George Croxford, Ralph Plummer and Tim Gilson, the Head Teachers of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, Abbeyfield School and Malmesbury School this Wednesday, to meet with Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Education. Together they highlighted the issues currently facing North Wiltshire schools, specifically the difficulties caused by PFI, as well as focusing on school funding.

James Gray MP said:

“It was great to welcome the Head Teachers from local North Wiltshire Schools to Parliament to discuss the pressures that schools are currently facing. All three of these schools are outstanding; they deliver excellent results and produce well-rounded young adults. It is only right that they are provided with the resources they need to continue this excellent work.

I thought it was a productive meeting, and I was glad that the Head Teachers had an opportunity to share their concerns with the Minister. I will ask officials at the Department of Education to look into the specific PFI issues raised.”

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Education had previously written to James about this issue, and stated that:

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. Spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be set at the next Spending Review, and whilst we cannot pre-empt these decisions, we are committed to securing the right deal for education.”

During Questions for the Secretary of Defence at the House of Commons on Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up for the Armed Forces, and highlighted the need for the service men and women to receive a fair level of pay. Mr Gray stated:

“Rates of pay have an important role to play in retention and recruitment, particularly perhaps among the younger, newly recruited members. What consideration has my right hon. Friend given to introducing the concept of the living wage to our Armed Forces?”

​The Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mordaunt agreed with Mr Gray’s point, responding that:

“I think that that is what we should be doing. Our Armed Forces have been exempt from that, so I have said that we must do it. It would mean a pay increase of a couple of thousand pounds for the lowest paid soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, but I think that that is what we should be doing. That is certainly my policy.”

After the debate, James Gray added:

“Our Armed Forces are among the most extraordinarily talented and hardworking people in our society. I am proud of the fact that we have the most professional and effective Armed Forces in the world. We need to ensure that that the overall package they receive reflects the value we place on their work, and this is what I will be working hard to achieve in Parliament.”