We have made significant progress in the fight against serious and organised crime since the National Crime Agency was established in 2013. Capabilities have improved, partnership working is better and we intervene earlier to prevent criminal activity. The agency has been instrumental to that progress and has gone from strength to strength, with an impressive and sustained track record of disruption across the full range of serious and organised crime threats.
Young people who have in effect been groomed into county lines are themselves victims of serious and organised crime, but so too are their families indirect victims. One thing that all the families affected by this issue in my constituency have in common is that they provide loving homes for their children, but they feel they have very little support from agencies in going through what must be a very traumatic process. What do Ministers plan to do not just to tackle the causes and symptoms of county lines and this kind of organised crime, but to provide adequate support to families who suffer enormous distress as a result?
I recommend that the hon. Gentleman looks at examples in other parts of the country of how county lines are dealt with using other agencies. I think his local authority is Ilford. Many local authorities and police forces work together on county lines in a pan-agency group, including social services and other local authorities. I saw one recently in Merseyside, which is doing exactly what he urges. If he thinks Ilford is not doing that, I would be very happy to meet him and the council to see what it can do to improve.
A wave of organised crime burglaries is happening in the Wellingborough constituency. In one case, two 60-year-olds—a man and a woman—were taken into separate rooms and threatened with all sorts of things that would happen to their other half. This was in the early evening, and the burglars just smashed in the front door. Those people said to me, “What would happen if we’d defended ourselves? If we’d protected ourselves, would we have ended up in prison?” We need to look at that issue again.
My hon. Friend makes an important point about self-defence and the rights of homeowners. He will obviously have seen the recent events—I cannot of course refer to that case because it is sub judice, or certainly an issue in hand—but there is clear guidance about this from the Ministry of Justice. It is important that people understand they have a right to self-defence, but they should sometimes be careful not to take the law into their own hands. If the organised criminals are well armed and dangerous, people should rely on the help of the blue light services.
I am grateful to the Minister for facilitating my further visit to the National Crime Agency this morning.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) referred to the increasing threat posed by county lines. Will the £3.6 million allocated to the new national co-ordinating centre come from elsewhere in the Home Office budget, and if the National Crime Agency needs additional resources, will they be provided?
In answer to the hon. Gentleman’s first question, that will be part of the overall funding package from the Home Office through either normal police transformation funding or existing National Crime Agency funding. However, county lines are developing more and more across the country, and that is why the Home Office—internally, with the National Crime Agency—has put together a strategy to look at what intelligence can be learned. If the lessons are that we require more resource or better inter-agency working, we will obviously reflect that in the serious and organised crime strategy that is due to come before the House soon.