|What is the Government doing to tackle the increase in street crime?
20 Mar 2002
The Home Secretary has written to me, setting out what he plans to do to reduce street crime.
This is his letter.
50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT
ROBBERY REDUCTION INITIATIVE
I am writing to follow up the announcement of a major robbery reduction initiative to tackle street crime in your local force.
Overall levels of crime are failing but street crime has risen by 13 per cent in the 12 months to March 2001 and is continuing to rise. As constituency MPs you will know that there is real public concern about street crime which is fuelling a fear of crime. This initiative aims to bring street crime under control and ensure that the public feel safer on the streets.
The Robbery Reduction Initiative will build on the work which has already been undertaken in police forces, in the London Government Office which has been working with the eleven boroughs with the most acute youth crime problems and with the mobile phone industry.
It will bring forward plans which have been worked up with the police and the other criminal justice agencies to develop a concerted new anti-robbery operation in the ten force areas with the greatest problem. The Forces involved will be the Metropolitan Police, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Avon and Somerset, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Thames Valley, and Lancashire. Street crime is concentrated on a few, largely urban areas within these forces, which deal with 82 per cent of all robbery in England and Wales.
From the beginning of April there will be co-ordinated action across the criminal justice system against robbery offenders in these ten areas. The ten forces will target criminals on the streets, as the Metropolitan Police have been doing in London since February. The Crown Prosecution Service, courts and other criminal justice agencies will ensure that the offenders taken off the streets by the police are dealt with quickly and effectively right through the system. The initiative will build on local crime reduction plans already in place and take advantage of the record number of police officers now reached in England and Wales.
Hackney in London and Longsight in South Manchester will act as the forerunners in early April, with the police and other criminal justice agencies working together to target and prioritise cases involving juvenile robbers. The wider initiative will start up across all the ten force areas during the course of April. Initially the campaign will be focussed against robbery.
It will quickly build on that to tackle the drivers that push people to commit street crime. Its aims will be also to get the drug dealers off the street, to crack down on centres of drug dealing wherever they are, and to rid the streets of guns and dangerous weapons. Lessons learned will be applied in other parts of the country.
We recognise, however, that this is not an issue for the police and the criminal justice agencies alone. We therefore plan to bring in other non-crirninal justice agencies, such as schools and local authorities, to work together to support the police in tackling the problem and its causes.
On Wednesday 20 March the Prime Minister will chair the first meeting of a new cross- Government action group to support and drive forward this initiative, drawing'on the resources, expertise and initiative of all the relevant Departments of Government and agencies, including the police, schools, and local government. There will be regular follow up meeting to oversee the programme of action.
The purpose of the group will be to identify and support the implementation of actions which all the various agencies can take, working together, to tackle the problem of street crime. It will identify immediate short-term solutions to deliver better results ahead of the Government's broader reform package, and will work also on delivering sustainable long-term reductions.
Membership of the group will include the Lord Chancellor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, the Secretary of State for Health, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Chief Secretary, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the President of ACPO, the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, the Chair of the Youth Justice Board, the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit and the local Government Association, and the Association of Police Authorities.