Yvette Cooper has announced a £360m programme to put 13,000 additional police and police community support officers into community teams, declaring in a speech that you “don’t get social justice if you don’t have justice”.
In a speech delivered to Labour conference this morning, the Shadow Home Secretary said: “Labour believes in community solidarity – we know strong communities are safe communities.”
“Labour knows that you don’t get social justice if you don’t have justice or feel safe. Inequality and poverty corrode people’s security. And security is the foundation on which all other opportunities are built,” she added.
Cooper unveiled a £360m programme to put 13,000 additional police and police community support officers (PCSOs) into community teams “so people can be confident someone will be there to help keep them safe”.
The Labour frontbencher told conference that the party will bring in a new law to “crack down on criminals who lure young people into violence” and set out a new plan to support young people at risk, involving mental health professionals, safer schools officers and mentors.
Cooper announced that Labour will strengthen police standards by “overhauling training, vetting and misconduct procedures” and introducing new mandatory rules and safeguards on the strip searching of children “so that an awful case like that of Child Q, a black teenage girl in East London, can never happen again”.
She declared that the opposition will act on the “epidemic” of violence against women and girls, announcing that the party will deliver specialist support for victims by putting domestic abuse experts into 999 control rooms in every police force.
Cooper said: “The Tories’ 12-year-record is grim: 6,000 fewer neighbourhood officers; 8,000 fewer PCSOs; arrests halved; less crime solved; more victims let down; border security failures; more smuggler gangs; more dangerous boat crossings; passport delays; visa delays; Windrush compensation delays.
“So, what’s the Tories’ response? They say they’ve delivered more police. They cut 20,000. Former Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson proudly announced: “We are the party of law and order.” What he meant was – he’d had a party, broken the law and created disorder.”
According to analysis of Home Office figures, published by the Labour Party in July, the number of officers and PCSOs in neighbourhood policing has fallen by 6,625 and 3,898 respectively over the last 12 years of Tory government.
The data revealed that there are 6,252 fewer frontline police officers than there were in 2010 and that the proportion of frontline officers is at its lowest since 2010. According to the figures, the Tories have presided over a 30% cut in the numbers of police officers.
Earlier analysis by Labour found that the number of arrests made annually has fallen by 50% since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, with arrests made each year falling from 1.3 million in 2010 to just over 600,000 in 2021.
Labour pledged in April to create a system of ‘community and victim payback boards’ in a bid to strengthen community and victim involvement in sentencing, reduce antisocial behaviour and stop more serious offending.
Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper to Labour’s 2022 annual conference in Liverpool this morning.
It is great to be back. Back here in the brilliant city of Liverpool here on this beautiful waterfront. But we are in a city that has been grieving. Just five weeks ago, just five miles down the road, a nine-year-old girl was killed. Olivia Pratt-Korbel was at home, getting ready for bed, when her future was stolen in the most unthinkable way. Devastating for her family, for a community. And, in the words of Liverpool Echo, for schoolchildren weeping in a classroom with an empty chair.
On Saturday, Keir and I met and thanked some of the police officers and family liaison officers working on Olivia’s case. And last week, I met community groups here and saw the huge support the whole city and civic leaders including Steve Rotherham and Emily Spurrell are showing to the family, the community and the police. We thank them and show our solidarity with them in the fight to get justice for Olivia now.
Serious violence isn’t just affecting big cities like Liverpool. This summer, we’ve seen an 87-year-old pensioner killed in Greenford, another nine-year-old girl in Lincolnshire, a 15-year-old boy just last week in Huddersfield. Across our towns and cities – gun crime up, knife crime up. Driven by county lines and a wave of organised crime that thrives by drawing vulnerable teenagers in.
Last year, the number of children exploited by gangs hit a record high. The next Labour government will bring in a new law to crackdown on criminals who lure young people into violence – we will outlaw the exploitation of children for crime. Labour is also setting out a new plan – with mental health professionals, safer schools officers and mentors to support young people at risk. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. That’s who we are.
We’ll do what it takes to protect our children from violent crime. Who better to lead our party in doing that than someone who has prosecuted criminals and terrorists to keep our country safe. Who has seen off one Tory Prime Minister, and let us back him now to see off another. Our next Labour Prime Minister, Keir Starmer.
The Tories’ 12-year-record is grim: 6,000 fewer neighbourhood officers; 8,000 fewer PCSOs; arrests halved; less crime solved; more victims let down; border security failures; more smuggler gangs; more dangerous boat crossings; passport delays; visa delays; Windrush compensation delays.
So, what’s the Tories’ response? They say they’ve delivered more police. They cut 20,000. Former Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson proudly announced: “We are the party of law and order.” What he meant was – he’d had a party, broken the law and created disorder. Then he announced it was government crime week. The police announced 120 fines for lawbreaking in government – including the Prime Minister and Chancellor. It was definitely government crime week. For once, Boris Johnson was telling the truth.
But we’ve got a new Prime Minister now. And Liz Truss has a big idea to turn it all round. She says she’s going to tell the police they need to investigate more crime. Genius! If only all the other Tory Prime Ministers had thought of that. But I don’t think the Conservatives have any idea how tough things are starting to feel for many people.
Communities that are that bit more fragile as the cost-of-living bites. People increasingly fearful that public services won’t be there for them when things go wrong. Police officers already picking up the pieces as other services break. Sitting for hours with mental health patients or taking defibrillators to heart attacks because the ambulance can’t come. And they are too overstretched themselves. Shop owners report thefts, and no one comes. Parents worried about drug dealers by the school gate, but no one comes. Families are burgled, but no one comes. And it’s a perfect storm.
Because lack of proper action to root out racism, serious misconduct or misogyny means that for some communities trust in the police isn’t there. Even if someone comes, too often nothing happens. The charge rate has dropped by two-thirds in six years. In 94% of crimes now, no one is charged. Time and again no one pays the price. There are no consequences. There is no justice.
The Conservatives want us to think none of this is their fault. Yet it was their policy to slash the police, courts and youth services, to show no leadership on standards and to divide communities. A laissez-faire approach that isn’t an accident, it’s Tory ideology.
Labour believes in community solidarity – we know strong communities are safe communities. We believe in public services, valuing public servants and setting high standards. That is why, to the firefighters who spent this summer battling wildfires, to the police officers and staff who made it possible for millions to show respect for the Queen and to all our emergency service workers who show great bravery and keep us safe, we say thank you.
Labour knows that you don’t get social justice if you don’t have justice or feel safe. Inequality and poverty corrode people’s security. And security is the foundation on which all other opportunities are built.
Labour will always stand up for the security of our nation, our borders, and our communities. Labour will take action to rebuild neighbourhood policing. I can announce today a fully-funded £360m programme to put 13,000 additional police and PCSOs into community teams – so people can be confident someone will be there to help keep them safe.
Labour will strengthen police standards – overhauling training, vetting and misconduct procedures. And new mandatory rules and safeguards on the strip searching of children so that an awful case like that of Child Q, a black teenage girl in East London can never happen again.
Labour will act on the epidemic of violence against women and girls. Today, across our country, more than 300 women will be raped. Of those, around 190 rapes will be reported. Of those, only three rapists will see the inside of a court room, never mind a prison cell. The rest will be free to hurt, abuse and rape again.
We cannot stand for this. Labour will deliver specialist support for victims – putting domestic abuse experts into 999 control rooms and rape investigation units in every force to get justice for women because everyone has the right to live in freedom from fear. We will always be ready to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work that is needed.
We’ll make sure the immigration system is fair, firm and properly managed. And unlike the Tories, we will work with France to prevent dangerous small boats crossing the channel and putting lives at risk, with a new cross-border police unit to crack down on the criminal gangs who make millions from trading in people – paid for by cancelling the deeply damaging, extortionately expensive, unworkable and unethical Rwanda plan.
The first Labour Conference speech I made was a quarter of a century ago in 1997. I’ve spoken through the years on amazing Labour government policies. And I am sick and tired of watching the Tories run our country down. And that’s why I’m back standing here. It’s the same reason why every one of us are here. Because we love our country. We know the amazing things Labour can do. And we are ready to fight for that better, fairer future with a Labour government again.