One of my key priorities as Home Secretary is ensuring that the police have the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe.
The Prime Minister and I have launched a national campaign to recruit 20,000 additional officers and police funding has increased by over £1 billion this year, including money from council tax and to tackle serious violence. The following packages will further progress these efforts.
Today I am notifying the House of a new £25 million Safer Streets Fund to tackle burglary, theft and other offences in areas of the country disproportionately affected by these crimes.
Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales will be able to bid to the Safer Streets Fund for investment in evidence-based crime prevention measures such as improved home security, street lighting and alley gating. Alley gating is associated with a 43 per cent reduction in burglary, improved street lighting is found to reduce property crime by 17 per cent and CCTV can reduce vehicle crime by 26 per cent. Funding will be available to areas in 2020/21. These interventions can either remove opportunities to commit crime or act as a deterrent by increasing the chances an offender is caught.
I am also announcing a package of measures to deliver a significant uplift in activity to tackle county lines. County lines has a devastating impact and involves a form of drug dealing associated with serious violence and exploitation of vulnerable young people and adults. It involves gangs and organised criminal networks exporting illegal drugs to and from different locations in the country, using dedicated mobile phone lines, accommodation and exploitation of vulnerable people to conduct criminal activity.
It is important that we go further in tackling the criminals involved. The significant new action will help disrupt and dismantle the county lines model. The new measures are as follows:
- Expanding the National County Lines Coordination Centre - There will be targeted investment in the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to increase its activity, capability and capacity at a regional and national level to disrupt county lines. This will include placing more officers and staff into the centre and providing additional strategic resource to regional organised crime units. The National County Lines Co-ordination Centre brings together a multi-agency team of experts from the National Crime Agency (NCA), police officers and regional organised crime units to tackle the issue of county lines through sharing intelligence, working with partners across government and taking concerted action.
- Increased disruption on rail networks - Rail networks remain a key method of transportation for county lines gangs. There will be a British Transport Police team that works exclusively on county lines and will be based at a number of railway stations across England to disrupt and intercept county lines drug trafficking.
- Investment in technology to disrupt county lines operations – The road network is used to transport offenders, victims, drugs, cash and weapons. Enhanced data analysis using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) will enable police to proactively target vehicles suspected of being used in county lines activity.
- Increasing support services for county lines victims - County lines gangs operate their business through exploiting young people and vulnerable adults. The Government will develop an expanded national specialist support service to help young people and their families exit their involvement in county lines.
- Working with money service bureaux to tackle illicit finance - County lines is a cash-driven activity. The Government will intensify operations to identify opportunities to take action against money service bureaux, enabling increased cash seizures and arrests for money laundering.
Taken as a whole, this package represents additional investment of up to £5m in 2019/20 and up to £15m in 2020/21.
The Government will provide £10m funding to deliver a significant increase in the number of officers carrying Taser. Recent high-profile attacks and increasing levels of violence have led to growing concerns around officer protection and prompted growing calls to equip more officers with Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs). CEDs provide officers with a critical tactic in the face of the most violent and challenging circumstances.
This funding shows a real commitment by Government to ensuring police officers have the resources, powers and tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe. Ring fenced funding could mean over 10,000 more police officers in England and Wales will be able to carry the device. This fund will help support chief officers to buy the necessary number of CEDs they require, and ensure frontline officers are better protected.
The number of CED-trained officers in each police force remains an operational matter and is determined by chief officers in line with their assessment of the threats and risks in their force. The decision on whether to apply for this additional funding to uplift their CED capability will therefore ultimately be for chief officers and carrying CEDs will remain a voluntary decision for individual officers. All officers who are selected to use CEDs will need to complete the comprehensive training process.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords