Yvette Cooper MP: Our towns deserve so much more than this

Anti-social behaviour is on the rise and it’s blighting communities up and down the country.

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 8:45 am

Yvette Cooper MP writes: Across the country, over 20,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour take place in town centres and neighbourhoods – a complete nightmare for residents, shoppers and businesses. Yet neighbourhood police have been cut, more criminals are getting off, and the government is completely failing to act. This just isn’t good enough and our communities are being badly let down.

Wakefield and the Five Towns are being hit too. Local business owners and shoppers are rightly furious about anti-social behaviour in our town centres. Residents are understandably upset and frustrated when they report problems in their neighbourhood but nothing is done. We need action to sort it out.

Whether it’s vandalism, drug dealing, street drinking, off-road bikes, or fly-tipping, communities round here and across the country shouldn’t have to put up with growing problems.

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ON THE RISE: Anti-social behaviour. Photo: Adobe

At the heart of this problem is the cuts we’ve seen to our neighbourhood police. 7,000 police have been cut from our neighbourhood teams since 2015. That’s a disgrace. People just don’t see police on our streets anymore in the way that we used to. Local police teams are doing a great job but there just aren’t enough of them because of the cuts we’ve seen under the Conservatives.

The result now is that crime is up, but arrests and charges are down. That means more criminals are getting away with it and more victims are being let down.

That’s why I’m leading calls for new action across the country to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour, including bringing back neighbourhood policing into our communities to prevent crime and problems happening in the first place, and to keep our communities safe.

In my role as Labour’s shadow home secretary, I’m calling for new neighbourhood police hubs across the country in every local area – especially for areas where anti-social behaviour is going up – and also for new neighbourhood crime prevention teams involving police officers, PCSOs, local council enforcement officers, youth services to target problems and prevent crimes happening in the first place. And the police and our local councils need new powers too – so they can crack down on drug dens and others who make life in our towns a misery.

I’m pushing for the same things here in our area too. That’s why I’ve been working with Wakefield Council leader, Coun Denise Jeffery, and West Yorkshire Police to get a new neighbourhood police hub here in Castleford town centre and to bring police and council officers together to tackle problems. They are working hard to get things sorted out.

But local partnerships need national backing and a commitment to taking law breaking seriously. Unfortunately, we’ve seen in recent weeks that right at the top of government, ministers don’t have respect for the rule of law. We have a prime minister who breaks the law he himself set and then lies about it, shrugs it off and expects people to ignore the appalling example he is setting. While local communities like ours are coming together to tackle problems head on, the prime minister is making things worse.

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