Crime and Policing
When I knock on doors and speak to residents in Cambridge, it couldn’t be clearer that policing and crime have shot up the agenda. People feel really worried about the levels of crime.
Every week, we read in our local newspaper about stabbings in our city. Every week in my surgery, people come to me saying they are concerned about seeing open drug dealing on our streets and the level of disorder. That Labour Government were obsessive about tackling antisocial behaviour. This Government seem to be completely careless of it, and that wrecks the quality of people’s lives.
If I had been asked a few years ago what I would choose to talk about in a speech on public services in Parliament, I would not have imagined that I would be talking about crime and policing. But that’s what I did this year, as even in Cambridge, which many people would imagine is a prosperous place, I am hearing more and more concern from across the city about the state of our country.
I joined police officers for a day during a city patrol to get an insight into the challenges local police experience when out on the beat. It was an extremely valuable experience to go out on patrol with the officers and it reaffirmed my view that there are many different worlds co-existing in the city of Cambridge. The importance of neighbourhood policing was crystal clear – to provide support and reassurance to a local community after it becomes victim to a crime. I was very pleased to hear the new Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary Nick Dean express strong support for community policing when we discussed this after, but he can only work with the resources available to him; the resources we give our police is a political choice.
Last week, a young student told me that at times she no longer felt safe walking in our city without being accompanied. That is a terrible indictment of the Government. Despite all the effort by an excellent city council and many local agencies, we find ourselves in that position.
Some of the statistics are chilling. In 2012, there were 604 incidents of violent crime in Cambridgeshire, yet in September 2018, there were 1,553. Violent crime has nearly tripled. Knife crime has doubled since 2013, and of course 139 police officers and 83 police community support officers have been lost during the Conservative Government’s time in office.
I have fought for local services tooth and nail, speaking out against moving Parkside Police Station outside the city, and arguing for more police to manage huge infrastructure project such as the A14 upgrade, which has led to some lorry drivers avoiding the official diversion and hurtling through Cambridge’s narrow residential streets. I led a debate on this in Parliament, and called on the Government to better resource our enforcement officers and police.
This isn’t just about policing though – it’s also about protecting probation services, youth services, education and social services too, as well as access to justice. I’ve spoken out about all of these, and against the swingeing cuts made to services throughout the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition government, and following Conservative administrations.
I’ve also met with other crime prevention groups such as the Internet Watch Foundation, who work globally to eliminate online child sexual abuse. Online crime is a new challenge for policing – from grooming and exploitation to harassment and trolling. I worked with TOWIE’s Bobby Norris on stopping online homophobia, and led a debate in Parliament calling for a crackdown.
Twenty years ago, the Labour Government came to power with the slogan, “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.” This Government say they are tough on crime, but the Home Secretary doesn’t seem to understand or care about the causes of crime. The entire nation has been made more vulnerable, more at risk, more insecure and more miserable by this Government’s policies.