Labour vows to 'take back town centres from thugs'

Police officers
[BBC]

Labour is pledging to put more police in communities and "take back our town centres from thugs and thieves".

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper repeated the party's promise of 13,000 officers and community support officers working in neighbourhoods in England and Wales.

The pledge involves hiring 3,000 new officers and 4,000 PCSOs.

The rest of the numbers are made up by officers already hired in the government’s recent boost in police numbers, and by special constables, who work part time and are unpaid.

Labour has estimated hiring the extra officers would cost £360m, which it argues could be paid for through more efficient purchasing of police equipment.

It says it would get the 43 forces in England and Wales to collaborate more closely on choosing suppliers and placing contracts.

Ms Cooper, who is expected to visit South Yorkshire on Thursday, vowed to "rebuild safety on Britain's streets" and get more officers out from behind desks and into the community.

She said she would run a "hands-on Home Office" if she takes the reins after the election and would focus on cutting crime.

Labour highlighted figures it said showed that since Rishi Sunak entered Downing Street in late 2022, snatch thefts of mobile phones had almost doubled - from 30,000 to 58,000.

Pickpocketing incidents had risen from 206,000 to 321,000, robberies had increased by 13% and knife crime by 7%, according to the party's analysis of Office for National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales data.

According to Labour, half of the public said they never or almost never see an officer on patrol.

The party also highlighted Home Office data it said showed that total arrests had halved since 2010.

Ms Cooper said: "On Rishi Sunak's watch, 90% of crimes are going unsolved and knife-wielding muggers, phone thieves and pickpockets can get away with menacing our town centres and neighbourhoods.

"Ministers have done nothing to tackle the new organised crime wave that is hitting local shops and streets. That is the Tory legacy on law and order, and our communities are paying the price.

"Enough is enough. Labour will rebuild safety on Britain's streets and take back our town centres from thugs and thieves."

But Conservative policing minister Chris Philp said the policy "isn't worth the paper it's written on".

"This is the same party that fought to keep violent murderers and sexual offenders in Britain by stopping deportation flights and tried to take Tasers off our police," he said.

"Only 3,000 of their proposed new officers would be full-time officers with the power of arrest and 3,000 of them are officers this government has already recruited."

He said the Conservatives had recruited "record police numbers" with 20,000 more since 2019.

A graphic which reads 'more on general election 2024'
[BBC]