Antisocial behaviour brings misery and menace. On
I compliment the Secretary of State on driving the increase in police numbers on the streets. While Durham has 239 more police officers since 2019, will she confirm that recruitment will continue, as we have not yet returned to the 2010 level? Will she advise me and my Sedgefield constituents how to ensure that the emphasis is on frontline deployment to antisocial behaviour hotspots?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his doughty campaigning in his constituency. Durham has received £3.4 million through four rounds of the safer streets fund, including just under £1.5 million in the current round. This is funding projects such as youth diversionary activity, ASB education programmes and target hardening measures. This Government are putting more police on the streets and engaging with communities to enable them to prevent crime.
Driving without care or consideration is described as one of the worst forms of antisocial behaviour, as the consequences can be fatal. If caught speeding, does the Home Secretary agree that no one should be above the law?
As I said earlier, last summer I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I took the penalty. At no point did I attempt to evade sanction. What I am focused on is working for more police officers, so I am proud that this Conservative Government have secured a record number in the history of policing. This side of the House is focused on the people’s priorities.
According to a joint letter I received from the Home Secretary and the Levelling Up Secretary on
“Tackling antisocial behaviour is an absolute priority for this Government.”
In the real world, how can 450 fewer police officers in Merseyside since 2010, and 69p per person invested in the immediate justice pilot, be classed as anything approaching tackling antisocial behaviour?
I am pleased that, thanks to this Government’s commitment, Merseyside has received millions of pounds of increased funding compared with previous years, but, most importantly, there have been seven rounds of safer streets fund projects in Merseyside, with 2.9 million in total provided over four rounds. I am glad that Merseyside has been chosen as one of our pilot areas for our immediate justice scheme, which is one way we will kick antisocial behaviour.
I thank my right hon. Friend for her earlier answer. In Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, we are delighted to have seen more than 330 brand-new police officers recruited, new CCTV in Kidsgrove parish and more than £2 million in safer streets funding for Stoke-on-Trent. Sadly, however, in places such as Cobridge, crime increased by 75% between January and December 2022, which is why I launched the safer streets petition, which has more than 430 signatures. Will my right hon. Friend work to get the police and crime commissioner and the city council to bid with me for the next safer streets pot, to keep the streets safe in Tunstall, Cobridge and Smallthorne?
My hon. Friend does a great job of standing up for his constituents on antisocial behaviour. In March, we launched the action plan to crack down on precisely the behaviour he has been talking about. The plan is backed by more than £160 million of new funding. That includes funding for an increased police and other uniformed presence in ASB hotspots. I am glad that his force has also been chosen as one of the pilots.
I am pleased to see the plan being brought forward, because only last week I was speaking to parish councillors from Bagworth who have had real problems with vandalism and graffiti in some of their playgrounds —so much so that they are thinking of closing them. I have heard of this happening in places such as Earl Shilton and Barwell, too. Will the Home Secretary say how the plan will support communities such as mine?
I was pleased to visit Leicestershire police force some months ago. I am committed to supporting communities and the police. I am pleased that Leicestershire police has received £2.8 million through four rounds of the safer streets fund, including £800,000 in the current round, to fund projects such as youth diversion activities, antisocial behaviour education programmes, and target hardening. We have funded several initiatives, and that is how we work together with other agencies to ensure that our streets are safer, communities can restore pride, and ultimately that criminals are put behind bars.
In Kendal we are proud of the recently set up Youth Matters project, which is about engaging young people with worthwhile activities to do with their time. Does the Home Secretary agree that as well as tackling antisocial behaviour by firm and adequately resourced policing, it is important that she works with her colleagues in the Department for Education to boost youth work, in particular detached youth work, to help give young people worthwhile things to do with their time? What is she doing to improve funding for that part of our armoury against antisocial behaviour?
Tackling antisocial behaviour is one of my priorities. That is why I launched the plan with the Prime Minister. It requires a multifaceted solution, and a lot of work must be focused on youth diversion. I was pleased to visit a boxing project a few weeks ago, in which money from the Home Office was diverted to encourage young people off the streets to take up a sport, work with mentors, and learn a new skill. It is a great way of reducing crime.
The Home Secretary rightly said that antisocial behaviour brings misery and menace. As part of local antisocial behaviour plans, neighbourhood and traffic police across the country will rightly be cracking down on speeding and dangerous driving. Does the Home Secretary think that people who speed should be given the option to get private speeding awareness courses, rather than doing them with everyone else, and in her own case, what exactly did she ask her civil servants to help her with?
Hopefully we are not going to be too repetitive today, Mr Speaker. As I said earlier, last summer I was speeding. I regret that. I paid the fine and I accepted the points, and at no point did I seek to evade the sanction. But let us be honest about what this is all about. The shadow Minister would rather distract from the abject failure by the Labour party to offer any serious proposals on crime or policing. Labour Members want to talk about this because it distracts from the fact that they voted against tougher sentences for paedophiles and murderers. They want us to ignore the fact that Labour MPs would rather campaign to stop the deportation of foreign criminals than back our Rwanda scheme. They would rather the country does not notice their total abandonment of the British people. This Government are focusing on delivering a record—[Interruption.]
Order. The Home Secretary said that she did not want to be repetitive. That goes all around the Chamber.