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PCSOs: Neighbourhood Crime

Volume 709: debated on Monday 28 February 2022

1. What recent assessment she has made of the importance of police community support officers in tackling neighbourhood crime. (905727)

The whole House will be united in horror and revulsion at Putin’s war on Ukraine. I will update the House on the action that we are taking to help British nationals and Ukrainians and to hold Russia and Putin’s Government to account later in Question Time. For now, I want to reiterate the Government’s unequivocal support for the people of Ukraine, who are being truly heroic.

I echo the Home Secretary’s comments and am sure that we will extend a generous and gracious invitation to those fleeing from Ukraine.

In the year to September 2021, 1.7 million cases of antisocial behaviour were reported to the police. In Cambridge, I have more and more people coming to me with problems. We used to have police community support officers, who were a welcoming, reassuring, uniformed presence on our streets. Where are they now?

Strong local policing is absolutely in the DNA of neighbourhood policing. The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that this Government are not only funding but backing the police, with almost £15.9 billion in this financial year, and increasing police numbers to 20,000. He will also know that his local police recruitment numbers have gone up and that his local force has already recruited 138 police officers.

I was very pleased to see Thames Valley police launch a new recruitment campaign for PCSOs. Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking PCSOs for all they do to support the people in Wycombe and across Thames valley and the whole country? Will she also join me in welcoming that campaign and encouraging people to apply?

I agree and congratulate Thames Valley police force; it has exceptional leadership and all officers there and across the country are doing great work. That recruitment campaign is vital and is going incredibly well. We have just over 11,000 new police recruits and officers on the streets of England and Wales and the numbers will grow and grow. Of course, this is all about keeping our communities safe.

The PCSOs are doing a fantastic job of supporting residents with regard to the increase in car crime happening in one area of Hull. What particularly upsets residents, however, is seeing those criminals uploading videos to TikTok and celebrating their crimes. Will the Home Secretary update us on what her Department is doing to work with social media companies to help them identify evidence of criminality and support police investigations?

The hon. Lady is right, and she will recognise that criminals who upload videos absolutely are pursued by the police and law enforcement agencies to bring them to justice. She asked specifically about work with technology companies and online platforms and providers. That is always ongoing, including through some of the wider work relating to the online harms Bill.

The increase in police officers in the south-west is welcome, but what is being done to tackle drugs, and will the Home Secretary meet me to see what we can do to stop antisocial behaviour happening in towns such as Brixham and Dartmouth?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; drugs are a scourge across society and they blight communities. We have a great deal of work taking place on drugs, and I will happily meet him and any colleagues to discuss that. Not only do we, first and foremost, have the county lines programme, but we believe in supporting individuals who suffer from addiction, and that is exactly what Project ADDER is doing.