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Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week – [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

That is a really interesting point. The same has happened with specials, but there is then a shortage of PCSOs and specials, because they go up to become officers. Alongside that, we have lost the experience of all the police who have been cut over the last 10 years. Although we have the new recruits coming in, some of whom are PCSOs and specials, the experience of local communities and the knowledge that the police have built up over many years has gone, and it will take some time to bring that back.

Labour has made commitments to put police back into neighbourhoods through police hubs. That way, there will be a space in every community where people can interact with the police, but with the infrastructure around them of local authorities, enforcement officers and youth services. Such neighbourhood prevention teams, as it were, could work collectively to try to crack down on some of the antisocial behaviour and its causes in the community. We think that would have a big impact on presence, problem solving and focus on antisocial behaviour. That is really needed, as are some of the measures hon. Members have mentioned, such as changing legislation around off-road biking and similar issues.

We also think that there should be a recruitment drive for special constables. I was with the south Wales special constables last night, who have won a Queen’s award for volunteering. They give up their time for free and it is quite extraordinary how proud they are of the work that they do. Their numbers have also fallen by about 50% over the last 10 years, and it will be interesting to see whether the Minister has any thoughts yet on specials and whether those numbers need to increase.

There is much to be done. We talk about antisocial behaviour often in this place, particularly in Westminster Hall, where Members often feel the need to come and talk about it because it is such an issue. Sadly, we do not get the response from Government that we would like. I ask the Minister to think about PCSOs and specials, about measurements of antisocial behaviour and about how we grip the issue nationally and really understand it.

I also ask Conservative Members to think about these issues when they are considering who to vote for to be the next Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Rishi Sunak) wrote in The Daily Telegraph yesterday that he would ringfence child exploitation teams from any future policing cuts. Does that mean he is planning future policing cuts? That is a question that hon. Members should ask him and others, because it is an important issue for the next Prime Minister.

The Home Office has a key leadership role to play, and I ask the Minister to make sure that is happening. Criminals cannot be given free rein. When low-level antisocial behaviour is not tackled, it leads to greater and more significant crime—drug running and all the other issues that have been mentioned. That is not good enough for our communities; they need more support and reassurance. I hope the Minister will take these issues seriously.