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Crime Rates

Volume 594: debated on Monday 23 March 2015

Police reform is working, and crime is down by more than a fifth under this Government, according to the crime survey for England and Wales. We are taking decisive action to cut crime and protect the public, including through working with the National Crime Agency. We are tackling the drivers of crime, including through our drug and alcohol strategies, and we have intensified our focus on issues such as violence against women and girls, gangs and sexual exploitation.

I thank the Minister for that answer. While police funding has been cut by about a fifth, police-recorded crime has fallen by 14%, and by 28% across Elmbridge in my constituency. Will she join me in commending front-line officers in Surrey and across the country for the great job they are doing? Does that fall not demonstrate how vital reform is, and that public services cannot be judged only by the amount of money going in?

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in commending front-line officers in Surrey, and I congratulate all police forces that, with their police and crime commissioners, are rising to the challenge of driving efficiency and cutting crime. Effective policing plays a key part in reducing crime, and PCCs are ensuring that forces focus on the issues that matter most to local people. My hon. Friend is right that money is not the only thing that we need in order to cut crime; dedicated officers are our greatest resource.

There is no doubt that the huge increase in the use of so-called legal highs has an impact on crime rates. I have seen that in my constituency. The Government have agreed to ban legal highs, but have not yet acted to do so. Will the Government take action in this Parliament, and if not, why not?

Given that this Government have actually banned and outlawed 500 legal highs, I do not think it is accurate to say that we have taken no action. We obviously want to move to a general ban on legal highs—lethal highs, as I call them—and that is on the shelf, ready for the new Government.

There is a glaring difference between the Government’s complacency and the City of London police commissioner’s view that online crime is growing exponentially. Does the Minister agree with the Office for National Statistics that if all bank and credit card fraud were included, the statistics would show that overall crime was up by 50%?

I am having a lot of disagreements with the Labour party today. The ONS is working to incorporate measures of cybercrime in the main crime survey. It looked at this issue specifically and said, when it published the latest crime figures, that it had found that although there may have been some movement by criminals into fraud and cybercrime, it certainly had not been enough to offset the substantial falls in traditional crimes, such as burglary and vehicle theft, over the past 20 years. Action Fraud’s reporting is up. That is a specialist reporting agency. We are acting on fraud.