Cooper argues Home Office under Patel ‘effectively put in special measures’

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Yvette Cooper has argued that the Home Office has “effectively been put into special measures” under Priti Patel and strongly criticised the government’s failure to outline a “serious plan” to tackle crime in the Queen’s Speech.

Speaking in a Queen’s Speech debate on preventing crime and delivering justice, the Shadow Home Secretary said the Conservative party is “not a party of law and order anymore” and “too often is a party of crime and disorder”.

Cooper highlighted that crime was not mentioned in Boris Johnson’s statement following the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday, despite being an issue raised “a lot” by residents on the doorstep during the local elections campaign.

“Cost of living, soaring bills, rising prices – those were top of people’s list. But they were followed by crime and anti-social behaviour and a real, persistent concern that when crimes are being committed, too often, nothing is done.”

She added: “There was nothing in the Queen’s Speech to tackle rising bills and rising prices. But also no serious plan in the Queen’s Speech to tackle rising crime or falling prosecutions. So nothing from the Prime Minister yesterday about the basic issues bothering people across the country.”

The Labour frontbencher emphasised that there is “case after case after case” where crimes are being committed “but no one is being charged or cautioned or given a community penalty” and that the situation is “getting worse”.

“Since the Home Secretary was appointed to her job, crime is up by 18% and prosecutions are down by 18%. The charge rate, in fact, is at a record low. It is 5.8% compared to 15.5% in 2015.

“Cautions are down too. Community penalties are down too, notwithstanding the Prime Minister and his Downing Street staff’s attempt to make valiant personal efforts to get those numbers back up again.”

She added: “Where are those criminal justice reforms that are pushing the prosecution rates up? Because the prosecution rates have plummeted on the Conservatives’ watch.”

Cooper highlighted ongoing delays in the Passport Office as evidence of a “pattern of Home Office failure”, adding: “No wonder even the Prime Minister, who is not known for his laser-like focus on delivering policies, has lost confidence in the Home Secretary.”

The Labour frontbencher said: “The Home Office under this Home Secretary has effectively been put into special measures because it cannot get the basics right.”

“Where is the action now to turn this around in the Queen’s Speech? Where’s the action to help the police modernise, to keep up with fast-changing crimes?

“Where’s the action on reform and raising policing standards that we need to improve confidence? And where’s the action to get justice and improve safety for women and girls?”

Cooper described the Home Secretary’s refusal to accept interventions from her as “astonishing”, emphasising that “her predecessors always took questions from me”.

She said: “I’ve been taking part in Queen’s Speech debates for 25 years, and I have never seen a government minister at the despatch box afraid to take questions from her opposite number.”

“I wonder what it is she’s so frightened of. All my questions would have been really factual. Maybe that is what she was frightened of,” Cooper added.

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