Whether her Department plans to increase police resources to help tackle antisocial behaviour.
Earlier in the year, I launched the antisocial behaviour action plan, which includes increasing funding for police and crime commissioners by over £100 million, delivering stronger and swifter punishment, increasing police visibility in response, and banning nitrous oxide. Antisocial behaviour is not a low-level crime. It blights communities, and that is why the Government are committed to tackling it effectively.
Today, to coincide with Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week, the all-party parliamentary group on antisocial behaviour has published a report with the charity Resolve ASB, which demonstrates, among other things, that 1.7 million people a day experience antisocial behaviour. Some 58% believe that the Government are not doing enough. Will the Home Secretary meet members of the all-party parliamentary group and me to look at the recommendations in that report?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his work on the all-party parliamentary group, and I am sure that the Policing Minister and/or I will meet him to learn more about the vital work that he has led. May I take the opportunity to applaud the officers of Cheshire police force in the hon. Gentleman’s area? I have had the pleasure of meeting the excellent chief constable, Mark Roberts. I applaud the Conservative police and crime commissioner, John Dwyer, who has rolled out a scheme on antisocial behaviour that provides more CCTV and increases the first-responder response. There is a record number of police officers in Cheshire, and the force has received over £3 million-worth of safer streets funding. The results are a 26% fall in neighbourhood crime and a 17% fall in drugs offences in Cheshire. That is common-sense policing, thanks to the police officers and Government support.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary is one of the lowest-funded police forces in the UK, and with a decade of cuts to youth services, antisocial behaviour has been left to thrive under this Government. We have seen the consequences at South Parade pier, the Camber and many other places in Portsmouth. Neighbourhood policing is vital in cracking down on ASB, which ruins so many lives. Therefore, what explanation can the Home Secretary provide for halving the number of police community support officers over the past 13 years?
The hon. Gentleman and I represent constituencies that are served by the same police force, and I am really proud of the track record in Hampshire. I am really proud of how the new chief constable, Scott Chilton, has assumed his role, with a real focus on back-to-basics policing; I am really proud of how the Conservative police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones, has led initiatives so that every community in Hampshire will have named, dedicated police officers and PCSOs serving them, bolstering neighbourhood policing and building confidence; and I am really proud of the fact that Hampshire has seen a 15% fall in neighbourhood crime since 2019—common-sense policing serving the community.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that some of the principal victims of antisocial behaviour are young people? The Government are absolutely right to bring forward new measures to tackle antisocial behaviour to make our streets, parks and public spaces safer for the vast majority of young people who do not engage in those negative behaviours.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct. There is such a need for greater diversion and greater support for young people, so that they do not spend their time loitering in shopping centres, causing a nuisance in car parks or harassing members of the community. That is why our antisocial behaviour action plan commits considerable funding—over £160 million of new funding—including for an increased police presence in ASB hotspot areas and to support the roll-out of diversionary resources to support young people so that they do not fall into crime and antisocial behaviour.
Youth zones are exceptional, especially the Chorley Inspire one.
Yet again, in Ilkley and Marley in my constituency, Travellers have set up camp, caused damage and intimidated residents, which just last weekend resulted in Ilkley pool having to close temporarily. When they have gone, they leave a complete mess, which all has to be cleaned up at taxpayers’ expense. Will the Home Secretary meet me to discuss what additional support West Yorkshire police and our local council can get to address this ongoing issue?
My hon. Friend raises a really important point about illegal encampments and Travellers who blight communities by causing a nuisance and who, in some cases, threaten communities—it is unacceptable behaviour. That is why we legislated in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 to toughen up the powers and measures available to the police, so that they can take more robust steps in relation to this issue, but I am very happy to speak to my hon. Friend about what more can be done locally.