During Home Office questions my colleague Yvette Cooper MP asked the Home Secretary how many police officers would be recruited to increase our ability to tackle extremists and their terrorist activities. No answer was forthcoming so I used my question to ask the Home Secretary once more how many officers would be employed and when.
Not only did the Government frontbench feel that it was appropriate to snort at the call for more police the Home Secretary said it wasn’t the most important aspect of tackling terrorism. As a former Security and Policing Minister I can tell you that the number of bobbies on the beat in communities really does make a difference.
It is also important to remember that when the Home Secretary was running for leadership of the Tories he pledged to recruit another 20,000 officers. Miraculously now that he is no longer a candidate for the leadership he has forgotten this pledge despite the fact he occupies the one job in government where he could recruit more police.
In my Topical Question to the Secretary of State for Justice I asked if he believes that the Local Government Association were right to point out that the slashing of youth justice funding is having a detrimental impact upon our community safety.
Youth justice grants, which fund council youth offending teams, have tumbled from £145m in 2010-11 to £71.5m in 2018-19, according to the Local Government Association.
Councils have already set their budgets for 2019-20 but are still awaiting their allocations for youth justice grants, making it “extremely difficult” to plan services aimed at preventing gangs and violent crime, the LGA said.
The group, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, called for funding to at least be maintained at last year’s levels.
Instead of getting a proper answer I merely received platitudes. This is not good enough, especially with violent crime rising so quickly across England and Wales.
The rise in violent crime, and knife crime, across the UK is deeply worrying. Young people are dying on our streets due to gang violence and the increased number of people feeling they must carry an offensive weapon.
When we saw a rise in knife crime in 2009 I took immediate action as the Counter-Terrorism and Police Minister. We appointed the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police to head up a cross-departmental taskforce. This focused minds and ensured that we had a laser focused strategy.
The Secretary of State spent most of today saying that it was everyone’s responsibility to take action, whilst simultaneously ensuring that the blame for this did not rest at his, and his government’s feet. Let’s be clear, a reduction of over 20,000 police officers since 2010, painful cuts to local councils and chronic under-funding of education has laid the foundations for this crisis.
Action needs to be taken now that empowers our police to take tough action on those harming our communities and gives local authorities the resources they need to prevent gang violence from even beginning.
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.