Recently, it was reported that instances of criminal damage to shops, schools, leisure centres and businesses have increased by more than 30% over the last year.
These figures will come as no surprise to local people, who have felt the harsh reality of the rise in antisocial behaviour over the last 13 years. Stinging cuts to community police has meant that we now have around 1,000 fewer PCSOs in the North West, hamstringing local police services and damaging public confidence in the safety of their communities.
What’s worse, even when perpetrators are caught, we’re seeing a reduction in community sentences being handed out and applied. According to the Ministry of Justice, just 71,138 community sentences were given in 2021, that’s down from 189,333 in 2010.
These statistics are shameful and should be a wakeup call to a Government that has been asleep at the wheel when in comes to antisocial behaviour. It just isn’t acceptable that local people no longer feel safe where they live and are watching offenders get away scot-free time and time again.
I’ve always been a strong believer in clamping down on antisocial behaviour. That’s why I’m so proud to support Labour’s plans to prioritise tackling antisocial behaviour if elected at the next General Election. This includes creating mandatory antisocial behaviour police officers in every community, and reimposing ‘respect orders’ which would create a new criminal offence for repeat adult antisocial behaviour offenders.
We would also set up Community and Victim Payback Boards, which would see victims and community leaders getting a say on appropriate punishments and making perpetrators accountable to the community that they have damaged.
This would come alongside 13,000 extra neighbourhood police on Britain’s streets, including at least 10,000 more officers, PCSOs and specials.
I have worked closely with local police, and there have been some notable improvements. However, until we start seeing the Government take antisocial behaviour seriously, we are facing an uphill battle.
I’m confident that Labour’s plans would be a hugely effective at tackling the criminal behaviour which has become all too common in our communities.
So, my message to the Government is simple; either get a grip and make our communities safe again, or move out of the way and let Labour get on with the job.