People have a right to feel safe in their homes and in our communities. Crime is increasing and too many communities are plagued by antisocial behaviour. It’s a startling fact that there are 23,000 incidents of antisocial behaviour every week. There’s no shortage of legislation to tackle antisocial behaviour – as a Home Office Minister in the previous Labour Government I helped steer through a number of improvements to the law. What is sometimes missing is the will to make full use of them.
Success also depends on the various statutory agencies – particularly the police and local authority – working together, though cuts across public services have made that more difficult. That’s why Operation Coast Watch over the Easter weekend was important – working together, committing resources to make sure that as crowds come to enjoy our regenerated coast those who came with crime in mind were deterred or dealt with.
The central problem is, however, the shortage of police officers. The Government promised 20,000 but is delivering far fewer. Northumbria PCC Kim McGuinness is working had to reduce the deficit but when the Police Minister admits the service needs 46,000 more officers the scale of the challenge is clear. After 12 years of Conservative Government there is just one officer for every 2,400 residents. Half the public say they never see an officer on the beat. Labour introduced neighbourhood policing and it’s vital that it is restored. The government’s soft approach to crime is shown in fewer prosecutions, more criminals getting away with it and too many victims being let down.