The rise in retail crime over the past year is truly worrying. Our shopworkers are being put at risk and local shops are facing a the costs associated with it. Since last year, retail crime has increased from a total direct cost of £660 million to just over £700 million. This is money that is being lost due to criminals and stops employers from investing in our communities.
I have been working with the Co-Op and Usdaw – the shopworkers trade union – to raise awareness of the need for a plan to tackle this shocking rise. I asked the Leader of the House if she will give time for a debate on retail crime so that I can hold the UK Government to account for their reckless cuts to policing and security measures in our towns and villages.
No one should have to go to work in fear. I want the Government to combat this head on so we can fulfil our promise to retail staff that they have freedom from fear.
An Urgent Question was granted on police funding and I wanted to see if we could get a straight answer from the minister on cuts.
We were told austerity has ended, but the Red Book – which details the Budget’s spending – stated that the Home Office will be cut by £100,000,000 next year. If the UK Government can’t say where these cuts are going to fall we must all be worried that they will hit our neighbourhood police officers the hardest.
If the Government do not properly fund our law enforcement agencies, like security services and the police, properly we will see crime continue to rise.
I called on the Policing Minister to ensure that the police have the resources they need to do their job. The chronic under-investment of the police has meant more officers are being used on overtime and this costs the taxpayer far more than through employing more officers.
The minister made two disingenuous points. The first was that I’m in denial over “economic reality”. I can tell the minister in no small terms that the banking crisis was not caused by Labour’s investment in local neighbourhood policing or education it was caused by the greed of a few in international finance wrecking the global economy. The second point made by the minister is that the UK Government have invested in policing this year. That is simply not true. We have seen a 20% cut in policing budgets in North Wales since 2010.
The Government simply doesn’t get it. Crime is rising because police officers are stretched. Continued failure to invest in our police will undermine our safety.
Today, I attended an event to help raise awareness of rural crime and ways to prevent it. The event was jointly hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Crime, the National Farmers Union and CrimeStoppers and was the formal launch of a new service for farmers, rural businesses and the public could contact to anonymously report rural crimes.
This service will provide a dedicated number, with call handlers specifically trained in rural crime, for farmers, rural businesses and the general public to anonymously report rural crime.
The bill for rural crime is now more than £42.5 million and farmers and their families in some parts of the UK have been victims of arson, vandalism and burglary with many experiencing fear, intimidation and threats of violence. Vehicle theft, hare coursing and fly-tipping are also contributing to widespread anger, frustration and worry within rural communities, according to NFU reports. Read more “Supporting Efforts to stamp out rural crime”