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House of Commons Hansard
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17 November 2014
Volume 588
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2. What assessment she has made of recent trends in the level of crime. [906019]

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7. What assessment she has made of recent trends in the level of crime. [906024]

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Police reform is working. Crime is down by more than a fifth under this Government, according to the independent crime survey for England and Wales. England and Wales are safer than they have been for decades, with the survey showing crime at its lowest levels since the survey began in 1981.

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I would like to acknowledge the important role and hard work of the Cheshire constabulary in reducing crime in Cheshire by 17% since 2010. I also acknowledge the important role of the reforms in policing that this Government have taken through, with a more targeted approach to measures, stronger accountability, and a greater emphasis on innovation. What further steps are this Government taking to improve the effectiveness of policing in the fight against crime?

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I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the officers and staff of the Cheshire constabulary on the very good work they have done in helping to ensure that crime in that county has fallen by the percentage that he mentioned. We continue to work on driving out crime and on helping the police to be able to deal with crime. The College of Policing is further professionalising the police. The police innovation fund is genuinely looking for ways in which police forces can be provided with funding for innovative ideas to find new ways of dealing with crime and ensuring that we are able to drive crime down even further.

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This Friday the Cheshire police commissioner John Dwyer and I will hold a meeting with members of the Chester Asian community who are concerned about a recent spate of burglaries aimed at Asian families by people looking for gold and jewellery. What advice would my right hon. Friend give to people who are concerned about this spate of crime?

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I congratulate my hon. Friend on arranging that meeting to look at a particular problem that affects the Asian community. There are, of course, other communities that are also particularly affected by gold theft. I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that the crime prevention panel, which we have set up at the Home Office and which is looking at further ways to prevent crime from happening, is looking at that very issue. It is looking in particular at issues relating to the safe storage of gold and other similar valuable items in homes and external locations, and it hopes to be able to report on the matter in the new year.

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Online child abuse is a horrendous and growing problem. Does the Home Secretary agree that those guilty of online child abuse should be barred from working with children?

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I absolutely agree that all child abuse is a particularly abhorrent crime and, obviously, that which takes place online is no less abhorrent than that which takes place offline. That is why the Government have put a particular emphasis on dealing with online child abuse. A number of steps have been taken by the Government, led by the Prime Minister. I am pleased to say that next month the Prime Minister will also lead an international conference on online child sexual exploitation, endeavouring to further increase our ability to deal with these issues.

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Given the importance of the European arrest warrant in bringing people to justice and reducing crime, will the Home Secretary explain to the House why today’s motion in the House of Lords gives peers a chance to vote on and specifically endorse the European arrest warrant, when last week, as you will recall, Mr Speaker, MPs were denied such an opportunity?

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I was very clear about that. In fact, we spent a considerable amount of time last Monday discussing the Government’s motion. We were very clear that that motion would be binding on the Government in relation to the package of 35 measures. The regulations are now being discussed by the House of Lords. Sadly, of course, this House did not have a full opportunity to debate those matters last week, because the shadow Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), chose to move a closure motion to stop debate.

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Will the Home Secretary join me in congratulating the Northamptonshire police, including not only Chief Constable Adrian Lee and Deputy Chief Constable Martin Jelley, but particularly officers of all ranks, on the fact that the crime rate in Northamptonshire is down by 21% since June 2010?

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I am very happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating not just the chief constable and his deputy, but officers of all ranks in the Northamptonshire constabulary on the work they have been doing to bring down crime to the extent of 21% over the past four and a half years. That is excellent news for members of the public. Once again, I congratulate the officers on the hard work they have done that has led to that fall in crime.

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The Home Secretary will be aware that the National Crime Agency has the details of between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have accessed child abuse images online. There have been 600 arrests. What action is the Home Secretary taking to ensure that the many other thousands of perpetrators of this vile crime are brought to justice?

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I am pleased to say that the National Crime Agency has enhanced the ability of police in this country to deal with these particularly abhorrent crimes. By bringing the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre under the NCA, it is now able to have access to the tasking powers of all police forces and to the national cyber crime unit and other functions within the NCA. The NCA is very clear that it is looking at all the evidence brought before it. I am pleased that it has already made the number of arrests that the hon. Gentleman has referred to and, as I have said, it will look at the evidence brought before it and take action appropriately.