Bill Esterson MP is backing Labour's call for action to tackle anti-social behaviour, as new analysis from the party has shown that a staggering 1.2 million incidents of nuisance are recorded in England and Wales every year - equating to over 20,000 incidents every single week.
Sefton Central MP Mr Esterson said he regularly heard from constituents that anti-social behaviour was a problem in their neighbourhoods.
Labour is calling on the Government to halt plans for a Royal Yacht, which is being funded by taxpayers’ money, that the Royal Family do not want and would bring no advantage to the Navy, and to use the money saved to guarantee local Police Hubs in towns and communities across the country instead. That investment could start funding a new police hub in hundreds of local neighbourhoods next year.
Mr Esterson said: “Just this week I met with residents on the new Poppy Fields estate by Maghull North Station who described the low-level nuisance behaviour that they have to put up with. This is the result of 10 years of Conservative cuts which have slashed support for families and services and young people such as youth clubs. The police have seen their front-line numbers cut significantly which means they cannot always respond in the way they want to to address nuisance behaviour.
“Around Duke Street park in Formby we’ve seen young people throw fireworks at cars and houses, throw bottles at cars and use the cover of darkness in the park to hide. The council and police are doing their best to try to address these issues but they have their hands tied by a lack of resources.”
Labour is turning up the attack on the Home Office’s woeful record on reducing crime and punishing criminals, as polling shows the party is 9 points ahead on tackling crime. The Home Office’s own internal polling shows that ‘only around a third (35%) say they have confidence in the in the government’s handling of crime and justice’. Overall crime has gone up by 14%, while prosecutions have fallen.
In England and Wales the percentage of people who say they never see a police officer has almost doubled since the Conservatives came to power from 25% in April 2010 to March 2011 to 48% in April 2019 to March 2020. Meanwhile, the proportion of people agreeing that the local crime and ASB issues that matter are being dealt with has fallen from 61% in 2012 to just 52% in 2020.
Labour has accused the Conservatives of abandoning local communities and showing no leadership on anti-social behaviour for a decade even while Freedom of Information Requests to local councils and police forces show big increases in antisocial behaviour reports during the pandemic, and Labour’s internal research finds it is one of the most common issues raised on the doorstep alongside the cost of living.
Labour’s police hubs will bring together a Neighbourhood Prevention Team made up of police, community support officers, local authority staff and youth workers to tackle anti-social behaviour at source.
These teams would prioritise being visible on patrols, being easily accessible for local residents and would pursue serial perpetrators of ASB or low-level crime, as well as dealing with visible signs of disorder such as broken windows, graffiti, fly-tipping, or drug dealing. These teams will also support victims of anti-social behaviour. Labour councils such as Redbridge are already working in partnership with local police to introduce local hubs.
Labour’s analysis found that the Government failed to stop noisy neighbours from blighting homes across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, with one study finding that noise complaints increased by almost 50% during the Spring 2020 lockdown. And Labour FOI data shows that the majority of forces and many local councils saw a big increase in anti social behaviour reports during the Covid crisis including an increase of 69% in the Met and 26% in Greater Manchester.
Some 1.2 million nuisance incidents were recorded in the year ending September 2021, equating to 23,759 incidents every week, and over 3,300 every single day. When expanded to cover personal and environmental ASB such as drug paraphernalia, over 1.6 million incidents of antisocial behaviour were recorded over the last year - over 200,000 higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Very little data is published on the use of enforcement powers by police and local authorities, to crack down on noisy neighbours. Yet research from BBC Panorama found that enforcement agencies are failing to use the powers open to them, with 37 local authorities never having used the “Community Trigger” process open to victims to force agencies to act. Labour believes that there has been a serious and growing failure under the Tories to use antisocial behaviour powers to keep communities such as Formby, Maghull and Crosby safe, despite being in charge for 12 years.
In September 2020 the Home Secretary wrote to the Victims Commissioner to express her concern about “the serious impact that persistent anti-social behaviour can have on both individuals and communities”. Yet there have been no specific reforms since that point.
Labour’s plan includes:
New Police Hubs in crime and antisocial behaviour hotspots across the country to get the police back out into the community
Neighbourhood Prevention Teams bringing together police and local councils and youth services to tackle antisocial behaviour that is blighting communities
Stronger powers for police and local councils to shut down drug dens, and to keep them closed for longer
A major recruitment drive to increase the number of special constables
Giving victims of persistent antisocial behaviour the same entitlements including access to support services as other victims of crime
Mr Esterson added: "Communities are being badly let down by the Tories – crime is up and prosecutions are down. I hear regularly how much of a nightmare persistent anti-social behaviour is in for residents and the Tories don’t seem to understand the impact it has. That has to change. That’s why Police Hubs are needed to bring neighbourhood prevention teams back out into our communities. We need to see police back on our streets working in communities to keep people safe. Under our Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell we are bringing hundreds of officers back to the streets of Merseyside. That is what Labour do when we are in power.”