Louth and Horncastle MP, Victoria Atkins, admitted that she did not know the number of police officers in the country - during a live radio interview on the topic of whether a reduction in police officer numbers had led to a rise in violent crime.
During the interview on LBC Radio earlier this week, host Nick Ferrari asked Ms Atkins - a Home Officer Minister - whether she knew the current number of police officers in the country.
Ms Atkins said: “Erm, yes, I think. Well, I know in London it’s around about 31,000 officers.”
Mr Ferrari replied: “Right, but the whole of the country. You’ll be aware of the figures, won’t you minister?
Ms Atkins continued: “It’s erm, you’re testing me, Nick. I’m so sorry. It’s, erm, I’m not going to hazard a guess.
“I’m just going to front up and say I’m so sorry, that number has slipped my mind. I do apologise.”
Nick said: “You are a Home Office Minister, Minister. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the figures?”
Ms Atkins added: “It would be, Nick. Thank you.”
Mr Ferrari went on to state that the correct number was 123,142, and that seven years prior to that the figure was 143,734
Home Office figures show there were 123,142 police officers in England and Wales at the end of March 2017.
By the end of September 2017, this figure had dropped to 121,929 - the lowest number of officers since comparable records began in 1996.
• Ms Atkins has worked as a junior minister in the Home Office since November last year.