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Unsolved Crime

Volume 653: debated on Monday 21 January 2019

In the year to June 2018, the proportion of recorded crime that was closed with no suspect identified was 47%—a similar proportion to that in the previous year.

Charge rates in West Yorkshire have fallen for some key crimes, with charges for sexual offences as low as 4%—among the lowest in the country. The chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said that this is because of fewer officers and staff. The Government’s decision to raise money through an increase in council tax means that West Yorkshire will be able to raise almost the same as Surrey, despite having double the population. Will that really meet local need?

I am sure that, given the seriousness of the point the hon. Lady raises, she will welcome the fact that rates of prosecutions and convictions for rape and sexual offences are at their highest ever level. She also asked about funding, and she wants more resources for her local police force, so I hope that she will support the proposed police funding settlement that will, if the NPCC uses the flexibility, provide an additional £28.5 million for her local police force.

In Hampshire, just 4% of sexual offences and just 14% of robberies now result in a charge. Can the Minister honestly tell the people of Portsmouth that after losing 1,000 police officers and a staggering £70 million in central Government funding, my city’s streets are safer?

The hon. Gentleman also refers to the conviction rates for rape and sexual offences, which are at record levels. They are low in percentage terms—unacceptably low—but we are making progress, and it is incredibly important that we do so, because one of the success stories of the past few years has been in encouraging vulnerable victims of so-called hidden crime to come forward. I hope that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that and that, given his concern about seeing Hampshire police properly funded, he will vote for the proposed police funding settlement, which would see police funding for his local force double.

The Minister will know that in Telford and Wrekin there is currently a call for not only an independent inquiry but a council-led inquiry into unresolved crimes relating to child sexual exploitation. Will the Minister join me in calling on the council to get on with that inquiry and to release information so that the victims can finally get justice?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that issue. When he raised it before, he heard a clear “get on with it” message from the Home Secretary at the Dispatch Box. I repeat that, and I am more than happy to offer to meet him and anyone relevant to discuss the matter.

Hon. Members will know from today’s papers that there has been yet another stabbing in London—this time in Kew in my constituency. I am pleased to say that the victim is now expected to make a full recovery and I thank the local police for their full and rapid response. Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge, please, that increased crime in the capital is a source of huge anxiety? Will he reassure my constituents not only that getting to grips with it is a top Government priority, but that he is doing everything he can to work with both the Met and the Mayor of London on a co-ordinated and full response?

I can certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance, because it is one of the biggest public safety challenges that we face as a city and as a country. I am meeting the Mayor later this evening to discuss this in person. My hon. Friend wants more resources: an additional £100 million of investment is going into the Met police this year and the proposed funding settlement will see an additional £172 million of public money going in to support the Met. That is alongside all the other work that we are doing on the Offensive Weapons Bill, stop-and-search and everything else that he wants to see. I cannot think of a higher priority for the Department at this moment.