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Antisocial Behaviour and Organised Crime

Volume 709: debated on Monday 28 February 2022

10. What assessment her Department has made of the relationship between antisocial behaviour and organised crime. (905736)

The beating crime plan laid out the Government’s commitments to working with local agencies to drive down antisocial behaviour and tackle the organised criminal business that often drives the most visible crime felt in local neighbourhoods.

Crooks, fraudsters and those with links to organised crime are exploiting loopholes in the law to access taxpayers’ cash in the exempt supported housing sector. The Minister for Crime and Policing is aware of the problem and he knows that the proliferation of this type of housing units is causing an avalanche of antisocial behaviour that is destroying neighbourhoods. He recently promised, when he visited Birmingham, that he would have urgent conversations with colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Work and Pensions, but in the Opposition Day debate that took place in this Chamber last week there was no reference to any such conversations having taken place and no Home Office interest in this matter. Can the Minister tell us what steps are being taken by Home Office officials and Ministers after that visit to Birmingham by the Policing Minister to make sure that the Home Office plays an active, cross-Government role in shutting down the loopholes that causing chaos in communities?

The hon. Lady will appreciate that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime and Policing is sitting next to me on the Treasury Bench, and I am sure that he would be delighted to follow up on those specific questions.

As my hon. Friend knows, low-level drug use is sadly commonplace across many towns and cities in the UK. It is the scourge of my community and often acts as an escalator into more serious crime, but is yet rarely challenged by the authorities. Will she therefore agree to reinforce the message that drug use is illegal, that it should be treated as a crime and that it should carry an appropriate penalty enforced by police and courts alike?

My hon. Friend will no doubt be aware of the robust and sweeping action that we have taken to tackle drug use, which is led by my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Minister for Crime and Policing. The 10-year drugs plan sets out how we will eradicate drug taking from our country. Let me also highlight the work that we have done on county lines, which is a hideous scourge that affects many young people. Funded by Government, some of the work that has taken place has closed down county lines programmes—more than 1,500 lines—made more than 7,400 arrests and seized £4.3 million in cash.