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Crime Prevention

Volume 738: debated on Wednesday 18 October 2023

The Government are committed to investing in our police to drive down crime across Wales. That includes an extra 1,127 police officers for Welsh forces under the police uplift programme. Approximately £9 million has been allocated to Welsh forces through the safer streets fund, targeting neighbourhood crime, violence against women and girls, and antisocial behaviour.

Antisocial behaviour has a devastating impact on communities across Wales and in Cardiff North. My constituent, Sarah, suffered a miscarriage due to the stress of repeated antisocial behaviour. She was not entitled to any support, because this Government consider those who suffer from antisocial behaviour to be second-class victims. My amendment to change that in the Victims and Prisoners Bill was rejected by this Government. How can they claim to prevent crime while failing to support victims?

I assure the hon. Lady that victims of antisocial behaviour are as much victims of crime as anyone else. I absolutely stand with victims of antisocial behaviour; it is a matter that we take very seriously indeed. I have not seen the amendment tabled by the hon. Lady, but she must be aware that this Government have brought in longer prison sentences for the most serious crimes, and made it easier for the police to arrest people carrying out crime—matters that the Labour party has voted against.

The chief constable of Dyfed–Powys police recently told the Welsh Affairs Committee that Dyfed-Powys police force now has more police officers than at any time in its history, following the UK Government’s decision to invest in more officers and increase the local number of officers by 154. Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating Dyfed-Powys police force on reaching that milestone, and on all the hard work it does in helping to make Pembrokeshire one of the safest parts of the country?

My right hon. Friend will be as pleased as I am that the Government have delivered on their 2019 manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 extra police officers, and I commend the work of police officers in Dyfed-Powys police. I had the privilege and honour to go to one of the passing out ceremonies recently, and I commend the work that it does.

It is not just antisocial behaviour that is wreaking havoc across Wales. Shoplifting in Wales is also soaring, and in the year to March 2023 it was up by 31%. Why will the Secretary of State’s Government not adopt Labour’s plan to scrap the minimum £200-worth of stolen goods rule, which was introduced by his Government in 2014 and allows gangs of shoplifters to escape punishment and puts shop workers at risk?

I agree with the hon. Lady that shoplifting is a serious offence, and repeat shoplifters and those who go out in organised gangs must be dealt with by the full force of the law. That is why I welcome the fact that this Government have brought in longer prison sentences for people carrying out the most serious offences. I do not understand why the hon. Lady will not join the Government in supporting longer prison sentences. Perhaps she should talk to her colleagues in the Welsh Government who seem to be against building any extra prison places.

The Secretary of State knows that the prison estate across Wales is not just full, but that overcrowding is significantly above safe limits. With his Government having to commandeer police cells, with judges being told to jail fewer people, and with criminals—including those convicted of assault—being released early on the instruction of his Justice Secretary, how can the Welsh public have any faith that they will be protected?

The prison population has increased as a direct result of policies that the Government have implemented, to ensure that those committing the most serious offences spend more time in prison. That is something that the hon. Lady should be supportive of. She needs to talk to her colleagues in the Welsh Government, who have stated clearly in writing that they are completely against building any prison places. This Government are building emergency prison places and filling up prisons, because people who commit serious offences deserve to go to prison. The Labour party in the Welsh Government is saying clearly that it is totally opposed to building any extra prisons anywhere.