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Place-based Crime Prevention

Volume 667: debated on Monday 28 October 2019

There is strong evidence that place-based approaches can be an effective means of preventing a wide range of crimes, including acquisitive offences such as burglary and theft. That is why, on 1 October, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the £25 million safer streets fund, which will support the communities worst affected by such crimes to implement effective situational prevention, such as street lighting and home security.

Old Market Place and Rutland Street in Great Grimsby have both experienced incredibly violent knife crime, including the on-street killing of a homeless man. Will Operation Galaxy, launched by Humberside police today, look at what changes need to be made to the built environment so that my constituents can feel safe again? Can the Minister also say how much money Humberside police will be getting out of the £25 million announced?

The hon. Lady is quite right that, as I said in my previous answer, small design changes or equipment such as CCTV can have a huge impact on crime. We know, for example, that alley gating can result in a 43% reduction in burglary—I was sorry to read that she was burgled earlier this year. We will encourage applications to the fund from the areas that are most significantly affected, particularly by acquisitive crime, on the basis that the worst affected 5% of areas account for 23% of all offences. I look forward to entertaining a bid from Humberside police.

The Minister will be aware that there is a plethora of evidence that we can design out crime, both in the built environment and through the design of objects. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care recently launched the national academy for social prescribing, to link healthcare with the arts and creative industries. Can the Minister update us on the work that the Home Office is doing with our world-beating creative and arts industries to help to combat crime?

In typical fashion, the right hon. Gentleman poses an intriguing challenge, which I shall have to research in the Department to find out whether there has been any impact. However, one area that I know we could do more work with, and that is a significant contributor to the cultural life of the nation, is the architectural profession, which often does not make crime prevention a top requirement when putting in place developments, but very often should.

One of the greatest casualties of a decade of cuts to policing has been seen in the breakdown in partnerships between local authorities and mental health trusts. So what discussions is the Minister having with those departments to ensure that there is investment in those services and shared funding to move them forward?

The hon. Lady is right that the rise in the incidence of mental ill health has caused significant problems across the country, not least to the police. The frontline response teams I have met in the past few months in this job have all highlighted to me the problems they have in dealing with mental health cases. However, the problem has been sorted in some parts of the country, not least in my county of Hampshire, where there is a good relationship between the organisations, such that they are functioning well. I would like to take that best practice and spread it.

The Minister mentioned being able to design out crime. What more can be done by linking up with local councils to ensure that not only buildings but the landscaping around them are designed to try to minimise crime and make places more pleasant to visit?

My hon. Friend raises an extremely good point. A well functioning local criminal justice partnership, which will involve the local authority as well as the police and other bodies involved in crime fighting, will often look at exactly these kinds of issues. I hope that as we move forward in the police uplift programme one areas of focus will be a regional approach to problem solving in policing. I would be more than happy to meet her to discuss this if she has any specific ideas.