Safer Streets Fund

Home Department – in the House of Commons at on 15 April 2024.

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Photo of Kim Johnson Kim Johnson Labour, Liverpool, Riverside

What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of funding allocated to the safer streets fund.

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

Since 2020, we have supported 413 projects through our safer streets fund and the safety of women at night fund, investing over £150 million, including £3.9 million that has been designated to Merseyside. The objective of the fund is to improve public protection—particularly that of women, particularly at night—and independent evaluation shows that it is more than achieving its objective.

Photo of Kim Johnson Kim Johnson Labour, Liverpool, Riverside

I do not think the Minister answered the question about the impact of the reduction. Merseyside has now received a combined reduction of £180,000 to our safer streets fund in round 5. Our police and crime commissioner, Emily Spurrell, has called this “ill-considered and short-sighted” because projects have already begun and delivery is under way, but the funding has been restricted yet again. So will the Minister agree today to reinstate the lost funding, so that Merseyside police and others can continue their great work, keeping our streets safe?

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

May I just gently tell the hon. Lady that, in the last round of funding, round 4, Merseyside received £1.3 million through the safer streets fund— that was quadruple what it had received in round 3—and over half a million of that was designated specifically to CCTV and street lighting in Liverpool city centre? Round 5 should be seen in the context of record funding to the Merseyside police, who received an unprecedented uplift of £27.6 million—a 6.5% uplift. I am confident that Merseyside will still be able to deliver its schemes, including the safe home cards providing safe transport to help women get home from nightspots, in this round.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

In Essex, the police, fire and crime commissioner Roger Hirst has used the safer streets money to pay for CCTV and safety measures in the Bunny Walks, to pay for safety improvements around Chelmsford Prison to keep residents safe, and more recently for CCTV cameras in Central Park and the Avenues and extra safety measures around the cathedral. Despite all this the local Lib Dems want to take credit for all of Roger’s work, so will the Home Secretary pop down to Chelmsford to come and see me and Roger and make sure we say thank you to Roger for all he has done with this Government money to keep people safe?

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question. She is correct. Roger Hirst has an exceptional track record as a police and crime commissioner. He has done outstanding work driving down antisocial behaviour and domestic burglary and the examples she gives are exactly what the safer streets fund is for: bespoke, local, dedicated services that will improve public protection. I know that Essex police have higher numbers than at any point in their 185-year history, and I will certainly urge the Home Secretary to pay them a visit at the next available opportunity.

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Shadow Minister (Domestic Violence and Safeguarding)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and on behalf of the whole shadow Home Affairs team may I place on record our sincere condolences on the loss of your father?

Following the horrific killing of Kulsuma Akter in Bradford, who was tragically stabbed to death in broad daylight while pushing her three-year-old son in a pram, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester police have referred themselves for investigation because of prior contact with Kulsuma and her husband, who has since been arrested for her murder. Cases of multiple contact with the police before violent escalation are all too common. Labour will mandate domestic abuse and wider violence against women and girls training for every police officer in the country and we will introduce Raneem’s law to overhaul the policing response when reports are first made. So I ask the Minister, how many more women will have to die before the Government can do the same?

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

The hon. Lady is right to mention the case of Kulsuma Akter. What happened to her was appalling. I obviously cannot comment on any specifics in relation to the case, but the hon. Lady will know that the bail conditions that the perpetrator had been released under contained restrictions that were breached themselves. So it was not a case of the court refusing to apply conditions; he breached them. In relation to her wider point, of course every single one of these cases is a tragedy. She will know, because we have worked on a cross-party basis in the past, how much time and attention we dedicate to this at the Home Office, but I simply say this. We now have domestic abuse training that has been rolled out to over 80% of forces and the Home Secretary and I are working very closely with the nine outstanding ones. They are on a timetable for delivery—I want to reassure the hon. Lady of that—and we now, this month, have trained rape specialists in every single police force in England and Wales.