Boris Johnson pledges to to target crime and anti-social behaviour

Politics

Police

PA Media

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to cut crime by tackling drug misuse and using electronic tagging on more burglars after release.

The government is also proposing that every neighbourhood in England and Wales should have a named police officer for residents to contact.

Mr Johnson said his efforts to make society safer would be “unstinting”.

But the Police Federation, representing rank-and-file officers, said fighting crime needed greater investment.

And Labour accused the government of being “all talk and no action” on law and order.

Under the Beating Crime Plan, more burglars, robbers and thieves would have their location monitored with electronic tags 24 hours a day after leaving prison.

Alcohol tags – which are intended to detect from sweat if the wearer has been drinking – are to be trialled on prison leavers in Wales in an effort to reduce alcohol-related crime.

The document also says Project Adder – which targets drugs gangs, offers help to addicts and increases the use of drugs testing when arrests are made – will be expanded from five areas of England to 13.

The new areas covered will be Newcastle, Bristol, London’s Hackney and Tower Hamlets, Wakefield, Liverpool, Knowsley and Wirral.

The government argues that allocating a named officer to every neighbourhood of England and Wales will ensure persistent crime and anti-social behaviour is tackled, as they “know their area”.

The plan also includes:

  • Permanently relaxing the rules on section 60 stop and search powers – which allow officers to search people without reasonable suspicion in places where serious violence may occur
  • A pilot scheme to test the benefit of sending an officer to every reported burglary, to be trialled in Greater Manchester
  • Proposals for league tables ranking how quickly police forces answer 101 and 999 calls
  • A national online platform for the public to contact police
  • More officers to deal with children truanting from school
  • A £17 million programme to persuade young people who attend hospital with a stab wound or come into contact with police to stay away from violence
  • £45 million for specialist teams in schools in places with high levels of violence

Mr Johnson said: “When I first stood on the steps of Downing Street as prime minister, I promised to back the police and make people safer, because we cannot level up the country when crime hits the poorest hardest and draws the most vulnerable into violence.

“That is why my government has remained unstinting in its efforts to protect the British public and this plan delivers a fresh commitment, as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic, to have less crime, fewer victims and a safer society.”

Metropolitan Police officers set up a stop and search operation

PA

But the announcement comes four days after the Police Federation declared it had no confidence in Home Secretary Priti Patel.

It described the planned pay freeze for all officers in England and Wales earning more than £24,000 a year as an insult.

The Police Federation will deliver a letter to Downing Street on Tuesday objecting to the pay freeze and criticising the crime-fighting proposals.

“We don’t need old ideas presented as new, we need genuine investment for the whole of the criminal justice system and genuine consultation over new ideas. Without that, this is just another ill-thought out initiative,” the letter says.

‘More gimmicks’

Labour said community policing had been “decimated” under the Conservatives.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “Coupled with an insulting pay freeze, it is no wonder frontline police have declared no confidence in the home secretary.”

He said the prime minister was offering “more gimmicks and more slogans”, and suggested that key proposals such as a named police officer for every victim of crime were already recommended by the College of Policing guidelines.

The crime plan is expected to commit to the delivery of 9,000 extra police officers – making progress towards the election pledge of 20,000 additional officers by 2023.

But former Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent John Sutherland told BBC Newsnight that the previous Conservative government cut more than 20,000 officers in the previous decade.

“During the decade of austerity, it wasn’t just the numbers that we lost, it was the experience that went with it, it was the relationships with local communities that are the bedrock of local policing”, he said.

Meanwhile, the House of Commons Justice Committee is warning in a report that cuts to legal aid have reduced the quality of defence lawyers, putting fair trials at risk.

It said solicitors paid by the state to represent defendants who cannot afford their own lawyers have not seen a pay increase for 20 years.

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