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Crime and Neighbourhood Policing | Commons debates

In West Denton last month, a big pile of rubbish was set alight by teenagers, who threw petrol bombs at firefighters when they arrived to tackle the blaze. Communities are scared of arson, and no wonder: cases of antisocial arson went up by 25% last year. In one horror home in Cleveland, a den for crack deals with Rambo knives, antisocial behaviour has made lives in the community a misery, with litter everywhere, assaults outside the property and local residents terrified, and no wonder: knife possession is up by 15% on pre-pandemic levels, with more than 6 million Brits witnessing drug dealing or drug use last year, and 3,000 reported incidents of antisocial behaviour every single day.

In Lancashire just a few days ago, young people were throwing rocks in a shopping centre and careering around the car park on quad bikes. Communities are scared of antisocial behaviour, and no wonder: more than 35% of people—more than 20 million people—have witnessed antisocial behaviour in the last year. People all over the country know exactly what this feels like. They know what broken Britain feels like. This is Tory Britain.

So what went wrong? Today’s debate has laid it bare. First, they came for our police officers, cutting 20,000 across the country. Then they came for our PCSOs, cutting half the entire workforce. Our wonderful specials did not escape—8,000 down—and police staff who do the vetting, the training and the forensics have been cut by 6,000 since 2010. Then they came for the courts, with cuts leaving victims waiting years for any hope of justice and turning away from their cases in record numbers. Now they are coming for our public services. The transport network is in ruins, hospitals are at breaking point, and our police are spending hours—days—dealing with mental health cases. In one force, mental health-related calls are up by more than 450% since 2010 because there is simply no one else to pick up the pieces.

The worst thing is that they are coming for our future, too. Support services for our kids have been decimated, with mental health, Sure Start and youth work cut, cut, cut, so our lost boys and lost girls are a lost generation. What about victims? They have simply been ignored. Charge rates have plummeted and victims are not reporting crimes; they are simply walking away.

I turn to the results. We have heard eloquently about the impact from hon. Members. My hon. Friends the Members for Coventry North East (Colleen Fletcher) and for Pontypridd (Alex Davies-Jones) talked about the pictures in their communities of the effect of crime. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt) talked about the fear that people have about going into town centres. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Simon Lightwood) talked about the number of arrests having halved nationally since 2010 and how, in his survey, only 8% feel safer than they did in 2010.

My hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Samantha Dixon) talked about the impact on neighbourhoods of the cut in PCSOs. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Cat Smith) talked about the police staff cuts. We need to free up officer time for them to be in the neighbourhood, but now we have warranted officers doing police staff jobs. They cost more money, and that is not what they should be doing.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Paul Holmes) might want to check some of his facts. He said that there are more police on our streets than ever before and that crime in London is up by 11%. Neither of those things is accurate. Perhaps he will want to correct the record. My hon. Friend the Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury) summed it up by saying that people in our constituencies are not stupid; they know the truth.