Reducing poverty ‘best way’ to cut inner city crime, police chief says

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Reducing poverty and increasing opportunities are the “best way” to prevent crime in cities, a police chief has said.

Andy Cooke, marking his retirement as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, said if he was given a £5 billion budget to cut crime, most of it would be spent on trying to tackle poverty.

Mr Cooke, who held his position for five years, said the solution to crime in inner cities is building community cohesion.

He told the Guardian: “The best crime prevention is increased opportunity and reduced poverty. That’s the best way to reduce crime. So there needs to be substantial funding into the infrastructure of our inner cities and our more deprived areas.

“We need to reduce that deprivation and the scale of deprivation that we see in some of our communities, because if you give people a viable alternative, not all but a lot will take it.”

Asked what he would do if he was given £5bn to cut crime, Mr Cooke said reducing inequality and deprivation would be the priority.

He went on to say: “I’d put a billion into law enforcement and the rest into reducing poverty and increasing opportunity.

“Plenty of entrepreneurial skills get lost in our inner city communities or get directed into the wrong things.

Police stock
Mr Cooke said most money should be spent on tackling poverty (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Cooke added: “The solution is building community cohesion.

“The solution is building the opportunities for young people, and levelling up the playing field. It’s such an unequal playing field we have at the moment with job prospects, and with opportunities for the future. There’s got to be some levelling up.”

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