In 1997 the Labour Government famously said it would be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’, and this statement was welcomed by the public.
In the dying days of this self-serving, crumbling Conservative Government, it is Labour which is once again pledging to reinstate good governance in Westminster and keep communities safe.
Let’s face it, the Tories have cut 21,000 police officers, taking away vital back office functions and halving the number of PCSOs in our communities.
This is in an era when crime has become more sophisticated, not least in the digital age, and has caused irrevocable harm to thousands of residents and businesses.
With a staggering 90 per cent of reported crime going unresolved, and with people having lost faith in the police’s ability to solve crimes, many have given up reporting them. The only people who have gained from 13 years of a Tory Government are those perpetrating crime.
This isn’t to say that our police forces aren’t working hard. They are. They are underpaid, undervalued and seriously overstretched. If you do not have the resources you need, the job becomes near impossible.
Set against this, we now have severe delays in the court system, prisons are so full that there are no spare cells available in the country, and many are doubled up. Instead of justice being served, communities are failed.
Those that have entered the criminal world do not receive the interventions they need to rehabilitate them and plan for their release. Many are released from prison only to return there because they cannot escape their life of crime.
Out on the streets, I hear what this means for you. Women and girls do not feel safe and antisocial behaviour is prevalent in our communities.
Drug dealing is now on a scale we have never witnessed before and police officers are unable to keep pace with this. We also have a city centre blighted by antisocial behaviour which families are unwilling to venture into.
Crime isn’t just an issue for our streets, it is also prevalent in many homes with domestic violence soaring and online fraud reaching new heights.
The internet is drenched with images of predominantly women and children being exploited, which finds its way onto children’s phones and even the green benches in Parliament. While the Home Secretary obsesses about her failed deal with Rwanda, costing the taxpayer over £140m, she has neglected our streets and communities and left the police service struggling.
This is why we need a Labour Government – not only recognising that crime must be prevented so communities flourish, but getting to the heart of why so many are sucked into the criminal world and to turn these lives around.
The Community Safety Partnership needs a complete overhaul, too, and that is why we need a Labour council which will prioritise the needs of residents.
With new Community Courts, Labour will quickly establish a service to tackle the crime on our streets and turn neighbourhoods into safe spaces once again. We will start with an additional 13,000 neighbourhood police officers and PCSOs. Just 12 per cent of officers are designated to serve in neighbourhoods today – we shouldn’t be surprised at the ramifications of this.
New city centre patrols and an antisocial behaviour strategy will form part of Labour’s Neighbourhood Police Guarantee to you. But we know that the breakdown in society is leading to some of the most vulnerable children and young people needing support. A full prevention and diversion programme will underpin our work, and partner organisations will have to step up and play their part in prevention, too.
This is an article first published in York Press