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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 704: debated on Monday 22 November 2021

Police-recorded incidents of antisocial behaviour show a fall from 2.1 million in 2013-14 to 1.8 million in the year to June 2021. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides flexible tools and powers for local agencies to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Following Conservative cuts to the policing budget, the police stations in Penge and Sydenham have both closed. Meanwhile, reports of antisocial behaviour locally have been rising, and recently we have seen a sharp increase in thefts from cars. Will the Minister back Labour’s plan to roll out neighbourhood police hubs to help tackle crime and antisocial behaviour and provide a visible police presence, or will she continue to let down our communities?

The hon. Lady will know that our beating crime plan has set out that neighbourhood hubs are an integral part of the response. Policing in London is the responsibility of the Mayor of London. The Metropolitan Police Service is one of the best-funded forces in the whole country, receiving more than £3 billion in 2021-22, an increase of up to £132.4 million. It already has an additional 2,070 officers on the beat.

Last Thursday evening, I was at the Smallthorne Community Centre with the Smallthorne Village Residents Association, local Staffordshire police officers and police community support officers. One of the biggest issues that came up was the antisocial behaviour of a tiny minority of feral youths. Will the Minister tell me: what are we going to do about those youngsters and their parents, to get them out cleaning the streets and looking after the community so that they can pay back my local community for the lives they are ruining?

My hon. Friend strongly represents the views of his constituents. None of us likes to see that type of low-level disruptive crime, which has a devastating impact on communities. I thank him for championing his police force. Our neighbourhood crime plan is an integral part of tackling such crimes.

Antisocial behaviour is blighting communities: it has gone up by a woeful 70% across the country in the last year. Since the Conservatives took power, twice as many people say that they never see a police officer on the street. The Leader of the House said:

“I have often found…that a quiet word from a police community support officer can nip…antisocial behaviour in the bud.”—[Official Report, 13 May 2021; Vol. 695, c. 273.]

We totally agree. Will the Minister restore some of the 50% of PCSOs whose posts the Government have cut?

Before the Minister says that she is recruiting 20,000 officers, let me point out that we know that only 400 of the first tranche of 6,000 are in neighbourhood roles. Will she give victims of antisocial behaviour the same rights as other crime victims—if the Government ever get round to publishing the victims Bill—or do they still think that what she describes as “low-level” antisocial behaviour is not worth tackling?

The hon. Lady has taken my words out of context. Neighbourhood crime encompasses a vast spectrum of crimes that have a considerable impact on local communities, as I made clear at the Dispatch Box earlier. Those are a range of crimes that are at the centre of the Government’s response in our beating crime plan. We have made it clear that increasing the number of police officers on the beat is a priority. We are already more than halfway through our plan to deliver an additional 20,000 police officers on the street. The neighbourhood crime plan is part of our plan. It is for local forces to determine the operational priorities in their areas.