Under this Conservative Government, overall crime in the UK excluding fraud has been falling for some time. However, and understandably so, many in Wycombe and across the UK continue to have concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour.
I was pleased to see that the Thames Valley Police has recruited an additional 784 officers against a total three-year allocation of 609, and an additional £1.7 million has been provided to Thames Valley Police as a part of the Safer Street Fund, with a further £1 million to follow.
In recent years, the Government’s efforts to reduce the impact of crime have proven successful, with violent crime having fallen by 46%. 1.8 million fewer crimes excluding fraud have taken place, and neighbourhood crime has halved since 2010.
These improvements can be attributed in large part to actions the Government has taken since 2010, including the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act 2022, the Beating Crime Plan, and the Safer Streets Fund, all of which have served to prevent crime and help make communities safer.
Unfortunately I know many are increasingly concerned about fraud, which is why the Government is taking additional measures to tackle this issue itself. These measures include the establishment of a new national fraud squad with over 400 new posts, making fraud a priority for Police and banning SIM farms used by fraudsters. The Government is also taking steps to tackle fraud at its root overseas by working with other nations bilaterally to raise fraud in the priority list of police forces around the world. The Home Secretary will hold the first global fraud summit in the UK to expedite these efforts.
The Government has also recognised that the public want to see perpetrators of serious crimes get tougher sentences.
The focus on tougher sentencing ensures that criminals are kept off the streets for longer, enabling law-abiding British citizens to enjoy their freedoms without being disrupted by criminal behaviour. As such, new rules to this effect will be unveiled in the King’s Speech this autumn, which ensures enough time for them to become law before the next general election.
Included in these new rules will also be more bans on dangerous weapons, enhanced police powers, more stringent penalties for those who supply such weapons, and increased sentences for anyone who fails to appear at their court hearing.
As well as violent crime, nitrous oxide has become a cause for concern to many in Wycombe. While there are legitimate uses for nitrous oxide, such as in medicine, dentistry and as a propellant for whipped cream canisters, it is now the third most used recreational drug among 16 to 24-year-olds in England. In 2020, I was pleased to intervene in an Adjournment debate on the Misuse of Nitrous Oxide to bring to the Government’s attention the piles of canisters that often appear on the roadside in Wycombe. Since then, as part of the Government’s new zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, it has been decided that the sale of nitrous oxide will be banned.
I welcome these changes and, while there is more to do, the Government has a strong record on crime which these new rules will continue to build on. I am sure that this update will come as welcome news to all in Wycombe, who will continue to benefit from ever-safer streets and neighbourhoods.