Tackling crime in Burnley and Padiham | Antony Higginbotham
I’ve always been of the view that we need to be far tougher on crime than we have been historically.
The policy we have on law and order should provide a genuine deterrent; give the police the powers and support they need to keep us safe; and focus on putting the law-abiding majority, and victims, first.
I was elected on a clear commitment to make our borough safer and whilst we’re making strong progress in recruiting more police officers – 133 more in Lancashire since December
2019 – we also need to give those officers what they need to do the job and ensure the courts hand down sentences that mean something.
With that I was pleased to see the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill introduced into Parliament this week.
This is a major piece of legislation that builds on the progress we’ve already made in the last 12 months and delivers on manifesto promises I made.
One of those promises was giving our police the recognition they deserve by enshrining the Police Covenant into law.
This covenant will ensure that the law reflects the unique role the police play in society and that very often they must put their lives on the line by running into danger, as everyone else runs away.
The Bill will also offer much greater protection for our other emergency service workers, who have also seen an increase in assaults in the last 12 months, by doubling the maximum penalty for these assaults.
Sentences should mean something though, and release should only be where a term has ended, or it is clear an individual has been rehabilitated.
Last year the Government set out a much smarter approach to this – one which focuses on keeping people safe and commands public confidence.
Now is the time to deliver that approach.
Under the new legislation, the worst offenders will no longer be eligible for automatic release; Whole Life Orders (WLOs) will be handed down for child killers; and life sentences will be introduced for drivers who kill whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In the last 12 months we have also seen some desecrate our precious war memorials, or historic statues. There is no justification for this. Through this Bill, the maximum penalty, for
the worst offenders, will increase from 3 months imprisonment to 10 years.
These changes will allow the court to consider all the impacts, not just financial, so that the sentence can reflect the full range of harm caused.
It is also incredibly damaging for public confidence in policing and the law to see rules applied inconsistently.
That’s why unauthorised encampments are also being cracked down on through a new criminal offence to deter illegal camps.
And earlier this week the Government also announced that Lancashire Constabulary has been selected as one of the 18 areas across England and Wales that is set to receive a share of a £130 million funding boost to tackle violent crime.
A very welcome announcement that is the result of continued lobbying of Ministers to make sure that our area is no longer forgotten when it comes to Government funding.
The extra £700,000 designated for Lancashire will be used to tackle violent criminals head on, giving the police the resources they need to take them to task here in Burnley and Padiham, and across the whole county.
Cutting crime and building safer neighbourhoods is at the heart of this new legislation. Our borough should be one where we all feel safe from crime and working with the Police, as I have been able to do over the last 14 months, I am determined to deliver on that.