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Crime Hotspots

Volume 674: debated on Monday 23 March 2020

Burglary and theft are a blight on all members of our community, which is why this Government are committed to reducing burglary and other neighbourhood crimes. We recently launched the £25 million safer streets fund to protect areas that are disproportionately affected by burglary and theft and to invest in well-evidenced crime prevention measures. A reduction in burglary, along with other neighbourhood crimes, will form one of the many outcomes we will be putting forward to the police that we expect to see as part of the recruitment of 20,000 police officers.

As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will know following her recent visit to Ipswich, it has seen a number of burglaries in our town centre recently. These break-ins have been targeted at stores in specific parts of the town, including important local businesses like Willy’s & Milly’s café and Emilia Hair & Beauty Studio. Given that Suffolk constabulary’s resources are stretched and Suffolk urgently needs a review of the police funding formula, what steps is the Minister taking to ensure that the police in Ipswich have every resource they need to thoroughly investigate each burglary, bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent more such serious crimes from happening in the future, especially in the light of the additional pressures that tackling covid-19 will place upon the local force in Suffolk?

Ipswich has rarely had a champion quite as robust as my hon. Friend, and he is right to be as persistent as he is in the defence of his town. I urge Suffolk constabulary, or the police and crime commissioner who represents Ipswich, to make a bid to the safer streets fund. Lots of things can be done to target-harden in particular areas where there are burglary hotspots. My hon. Friend is aware that we have given Suffolk constabulary another £9.2 million this year to start the recruitment of police officers, and of course there will be more to come in the years that follow, but he is right to keep up the pressure and I hope he will see results soon.

In Cheshire, the police rural crime unit recently reported having dealt with 170 crimes, including burglaries and thefts, in three months. Will my hon. Friend guarantee that tackling such crimes will remain a key focus for his Department, and that the extra resources being made available will help to keep specialist police officers out there to protect the Eddisbury countryside and its farms and businesses into the future?

I offer my hon. Friend a belated welcome back from his extended recess; it is nice to see him in his place. He is right to raise the issue of rural crime. As somebody who represents 220 beautiful square miles of rolling Hampshire down land, I am well aware of the problems that rural communities face with crime. My hon. Friend will understand that it is an operational matter for the chief constable in his area to decide where and how his police officers are deployed, but I know that some of the more rural forces are working hard to maintain their capacity in respect of that crime type. As he will know, there is a National Rural Crime Network, which is looking at what more can be done.