It is a pleasure to have secured this, my first Adjournment debate. I wanted the debate because there is a problem in my constituency, and I am sure that the problem I hear about from my constituents is echoed in other parts of the country. As the representative of all my constituents, whether they voted for me or not, I want to put to the Government the problems they are describing to me. I hope the Minister is in listening mode for a while.
It is difficult to imagine what it is like to live in a community where residents are woken at night by people loudly bashing on the door looking for somewhere to buy drugs or where people are frightened that if they take their dog for a walk somebody will break into their home. It is difficult to understand the impact that being a victim of crime can have and how it can sap somebody’s confidence. It is also difficult to understand the impact it can have on entire communities when people feel that their streets are not as safe as they used to be.
The area I represent is not one homogenous area. Stockton South is a mixture of many different communities, some more affluent, some with higher levels of deprivation. Each community has its own characteristics, but there are common concerns. I have held several public meetings in response to the concerns of constituents and people have contacted me directly. Our local newspaper, The Teesside Gazette, is full of stories and, as in many other parts of the country, there are virtual communities on social media. An overwhelming number of people are describing what they perceive to be a rising tide of crime and antisocial behaviour.
First, I would like to tell some of those stories, look at what the numbers tell us, talk about what the police have told me about their response, and perhaps touch on the local authority response. I then want to put some specific asks to the Government to help the communities I represent.