Do you remember “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”? That oft-repeated phrase was parroted out by every Labour politician in the late 1990s. I’ve always believed that being tough on crime meant being tough on criminals, but it seems that particular soundbite meant nothing of the sort. I’m staggered that Labour MPs recently voted against tougher sentences for child murderers and greater protections for our emergency workers. That isn’t being tough on the causes of crime.
The initial results from my recent crime survey indicate that local residents agree. We want to see tougher sentences for criminals, a concentration on tackling drug-related crime and an emphasis on neighbourhood policing including increased use of CCTV. These are some of the priorities identified in the Government’s new ‘Beating Crime Plan’ - it’s a comprehensive blueprint for cutting crime and increasing confidence in our criminal justice system. The plan gives both our local police and our Police and Crime Commissioner the powers and resources to deal with your priorities.
Police officers on the ground are vital for neighbourhood policing and we are already seeing more officers recruited in Norfolk. Across the country, there will be 10,000 more police officers in place by 2023. And the borough council was successful in securing money from the government’s ‘Safer Streets Fund’ to pay for increased CCTV coverage and improved street lighting in problem areas.
This newspaper has featured how Norfolk Police are working hard to break the damaging drug trade from our cities to coastal towns like Great Yarmouth. This so-called county lines network recruits the young and the vulnerable to deal drugs in our communities. It is organised crime run by city-based crime gangs. The work I undertook as a Home Office minister to bolster our national response to organised crime and improve the sharing of intelligence between police forces means we are more effective in tackling this menace. I am pleased to see that the county lines are being disrupted and broken here in Norfolk. And that this is leading to arrests, convictions, and lengthy prison sentences.
That doesn’t mean we should become complacent. That’s why these new measures announced by the Government are so important.