The first job of any Government is to keep its people safe, which is why we have put more police on our streets, are cutting crime and are protecting the public. Over the last three months, the Home Office has worked hard to achieve these priorities. Overall crime has fallen by 10% since December 2019, equivalent to 1 million fewer crimes.
Neighbourhood crime is down by 20% since December 2019, and burglary has fallen by 30% over the same period. Since the Safer Streets fund was established, we have awarded £120 million to local projects in high-crime areas across England and Wales through four rounds of funding, supporting over 250 projects. I am pleased that the National Police Chiefs’ Council has announced that all police chiefs in England and Wales committed in September to attend all home burglaries. An example of this in action is Operation Tenacity, which saw the Metropolitan police attend most burglaries, resulting in 1,700 arrests in just six weeks during October and November this year.
Hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object among under-25s—our primary metric for measuring serious violence—have fallen by 22% since December 2019. Our violence reduction unit programme, alongside targeted police enforcement activity, has prevented over 49,000 violent offences since funding for the programmes began in March 2019. In addition, 260,000 vulnerable young people have been supported through violence reduction units in their second year alone, and 90,000 weapons have been taken off our streets since 2019.
The Grip police enforcement programme is supporting the police to take targeted action in parts of England and Wales most affected by serious violence. Grip is helping to drive down violence by using a highly data-driven process to identify violence hotspots—often to individual street level—to target operational activity in those areas.
We are seeing the impact in areas we are funding. For instance, hospital admissions for assault with a sharp object among under-25s in the Metropolitan Police Force area fell from 465 in 2020-21 to 410 in 2021-22.
We know that the drugs trade is at the heart of much of the homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime that blight our communities. Our 10-year cross-Government drug strategy, published in December 2021, includes £300 million of dedicated investment over the next three years, to drive work on tackling drug supply. We are breaking drug supply chains—our work to tackle the supply of drugs through county lines is already making an impact. Since the county lines programme was launched in 2019, the police have closed down more than 2,900 deal lines, including over 500 lines since April 2022, and made over 8,000 arrests. Dedicated specialist services are supporting children and young people and their families to escape county lines exploitation and rebuild their lives.
Drug data from Project ADDER—addiction, disruption, diversion, enforcement and recovery—a programme trailblazing a whole-system response to combatting drug misuse, shows positive early signs. Between January 2021 and September 2022, the ADDER programme has supported over 1,600 organised crime group disruptions, over 20,500 arrests, and over £7 million cash seized. We are also diverting people into treatment and wider support. For example, 12,400 out-of-court disposals have been offered and over 8,000 naloxone kits distributed in the community.
Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls
Between January 2021 and August 2022, a team of academics conducted sequential deep dives on the police response to rape in five police forces: Avon and Somerset Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, Durham Constabulary, West Midlands Police and South Wales Police. A wide range of data and information was gathered and examined during the deep dives, including reviews of case files, observations of investigations and training, and focus groups with support services and victims. Following the deep dives, the forces have developed tailored improvement plans to address the findings, which has led to the roll out of Operation Soteria.
We continue to implement the rape review action plan, investing £6.65 million in Operation Soteria to deliver the national operating model for the investigation of rape for all forces to adopt from June 2023; introducing new powers to stop unnecessary and intrusive requests for victims’ phones; and continuing to work with police forces to ensure they have the capability to return victims’ devices within 24 hours. In the year ending June 2022, the police recorded 196,889 sexual offences, the highest level recorded within a 12-month period. This is a 21% increase compared to the year ending March 2020.
On 15 December, the Government published our third six-monthly rape review progress update, which showed that, although there is still more to do, the Government are on track to meet our rape review ambition to more than double the number of adult rape cases reaching court by the end of this Parliament. In the most recent data for 2022, the number of cases referred by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service was up by 95%; the volume of cases charged was up by two thirds; and the number of cases reaching the Crown court was up by 91% compared with 2019 averages.
We have continued to implement the strategy on tackling violence against women and girls—VAWG—the tackling domestic abuse plan, and have enshrined in law the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. We have introduced new offences relating to non-fatal strangulation, hymenoplasty and virginity testing. We have strengthened protections and support for victims of domestic abuse and the response to perpetrators through the provisions in the Domestic Abuse Act. We have made the regime for managing sex offenders and those that pose a risk of sexual harm more robust through provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.
In January 2020 we introduced stalking protection orders, to protect victims of stalking at the earliest possible opportunity—456 orders were issued in their first year. Extensive work is also under way to launch the pilot for the new domestic abuse protection notices and domestic abuse protection orders early next year.
On 25th October we launched the second phase of our national multimedia “Enough” campaign, which promotes safe ways for bystanders to intervene if they witness VAWG. The campaign has reached millions of individuals across England and Wales, with thousands of clicks through to organisations offering support for victims of VAWG.
Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation
We received the final report of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse after seven years of investigation into institutional failings to properly safeguard children from this most horrific abuse. I commend the bravery of the thousands of victims and survivors for sharing their testimonies and perspectives with the inquiry. We will continue doing everything we can to combat this crime, pursue these vile offenders, bring them to justice, and ensure that support is in place for all victims and survivors to help them rebuild their lives.
The Public Order Bill will further enhance the police’s ability to deal with disruptive protests that prevent ordinary people going about their daily lives and divert police resources from communities where they are needed most to prevent serious violence and neighbourhood crime. So far, disruptive protests in London alone have taken up over 12,500 police officer shifts. The Metropolitan Police Service has made over 750 arrests since the beginning of October.
My Department is launching a new fraud strategy, including stepping up our response to pursuing and disrupting fraudsters, working with industry to stop frauds and to empower and support victims.
This Government are delivering the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which will deliver the largest reform to Companies House in recent history. It will give law enforcement and industry the tools to bear down on the use of UK companies as vehicles for economic crime, including fraud. It will also better protect personal information and addresses provided to Companies House.
We have seen the success of the National Crime Agency’s Operation AGADE, where we have recovered £54 million of criminal proceeds using a civil recovery order—the first of its kind.
We have seen Operation Elaborate, the largest anti-fraud operation in the UK to date, dismantling a website that was responsible for 3.5 million fraudulent calls in 2022—involving many agencies and forces, and led by the Metropolitan police, there have been over 100 arrests made across the country so far.