The Labour Group presented opposition business to the county on June 21 calling for more and better policing and a refresh of our community safety partnerships and strategy. The motion was voted down by the Tories. This is my speech.
I have a vision for the town of Northampton and the county of Northamptonshire. That these are places that feel loved, that feel welcoming, and above all, that feel safe. Above all-that feels safe places to bring up our children. That feels safe to women going home late at night from shift work. That feels safe for young men, out on the town with their mates.
But what has happened?
We have a vastly depleted police force and growing crime. I was in Spring Boroughs the other day and did a walkabout with my local cop. He turned me round to look back at where we had come from and said that he knew of three drugs dens within my line of vision that he could do nothing about because of a lack of resources. In Northampton, we have had three non-domestic murders of young men since February. This is intolerable. In St George’s County division we know there has been an increase in sex related crimes, in modern slavery, vehicle theft, anti-social behaviour and drug related crimes. Yet when residents phone through to 101 they are kept waiting for so long to talk to anyone they give up. As a consequence many crimes are going unreported. We know that the police prioritise their resources depending on reported crime. If communities feel so disillusioned they stop reporting it means that already vulnerable communities are becoming ever more vulnerable.
We know cybercrime is on the rise and office based police deal with that. But we still need visible policing. We need more police on the street. We need more integrated partnership working and we need communities that trust the police, that report suspicious activity, that report crimes.
Our approach to Community Safety partnerships needs a refresh. We are living in difficult times. Crime is changing and in some instances getting more violent. Recent Asian gold thefts have been marked by the violence of the gangs involved. These are brazen gangs who enter homes in daylight, where there are women and children, who threaten and commit violence. As individuals become more vulnerable, as communities become more vulnerable, criminal gangs move in. And so we are seeing cuckooing and County Lines. I have been told that last month there were 40 cases of cuckooing across Northampton alone. From the experience of cities like Sheffield we know that where children are vulnerable because they have been excluded from school they are becoming prey to gangs who use them as drug runners.
We have then a scenario where because of service cuts communities are losing their resilience. Where wages are being frozen and where jobs are casualised families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Where children are disaffected because they cannot cope with pressure from school and social pressures they are becoming prey to organised criminals.
There use to be 57 Police officers in the town centre. There are now 50.5 for the whole town.
The question we need to ask is, as a County, what is our responsibility in this situation? We need an outcome based approach. Is the Community Safety Partnership effective? How do we know? What else can it be doing? Where is best practice in this Country and what can we learn from it?
I beg to move.