Column: Crime and Policing

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 18th January:

Whether its burglaries and theft, or anti-social behaviour and harassment, crime has a profound impact on the day to day lives of those who are affected.

Every person here in Barnsley has the right to feel safe in their home and community, and it is saddening to hear that this has not been the case for everybody recently – particularly in areas like Hoyland where there has been a spate of crime. 

I know that our local South Yorkshire Police service are doing all they can to keep our community safe.

But despite the efforts of officers and staff there, cuts to budgets and resources by this Government has had a huge and inevitable effect on their ability to police our community.

Since 2010, South Yorkshire Police has lost 480 frontline officers and 117 community support officers from our streets.

That’s almost 600 fewer bobbies on the beat, patrolling our streets and providing a presence in our community.

And when so much of neighbourhood policing is dependent on officers being the eyes and ears, building relationships and collecting information, it is little wonder these cuts have had such an impact.

It’s the same story outside of Barnsley, too.

Across the UK we have seen 21,000 officers, 18,000 police staff, and over 6,800 community support officers axed from the frontline.

Combined with this blow to tackling crime, the millions slashed from youth services and early intervention has also hindered our ability to challenge its root causes.

Despite these obstacles, South Yorkshire Police are doing well in trying circumstances.

I’ll be meeting with them next week to discuss how we can work together with local residents, businesses and community groups to tackle these issues.

Last weekend, I was out and about talking to affected residents about their concerns and what more we can do.

I’m also seeking residents’ views on crime in my local survey, which I encourage everybody to take part in.

And down in Westminster, I’ve consistently pushed the Government to do more to tackle crime and provide the proper support our local police services need – something I will continue to do.

Because in my role as MP few things are as important to me as everybody here in Barnsley feeling safe and secure, and I’ll keep pushing until that’s the case.