Labour has vowed to target growing levels of vandalism as both main parties ramp up commitments on law and order ahead of the local elections.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper repeated a Labour promise to put 13,000 police and community support officers in neighbourhood roles, which she said had been “decimated” by the Government.
In its latest pledge to tackle “high street crime”, Labour said the charge rate for arson and criminal damage had dropped from 7.9% in 2015 to 3.9%, according to latest official statistics.
Some 41,550 offences of “criminal damage to a building other than a dwelling” were recorded by police in the year ending September 2021, but the latest figures show that it has risen to 54,487 – 150 incidents each day, the party said.
“Neighbourhood policing has been decimated under the Tories and as result criminals and vandals are getting away scot-free while communities are being let down.
“The next Labour government will put 13,000 police and PCSOs in neighbourhood roles because everyone deserves to feel safe.”
Policing minister Chris Philp described the pledge as “weak” and “the latest evidence (Labour) are soft on crime and soft on criminals”.
It comes amid competing efforts by Labour and the Tories to sell themselves as the party of law and order by putting crime-fighting plans at the heart of their campaigns in the run-up to May’s local elections.
During a visit to Hartlepool on Monday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said anti-social behaviour was a “huge” problem plaguing communities across the country and accused the Government of pretending it was “low level”.
He said: “I think it’s about prevention and cure and that’s why our proposal to have 13,000 new neighbourhood police officers is so important, because they have dual functions.
“They are part of their local community. They know the people that they’re working with. So that’s the prevention bit, but then if it does require enforcement, they’re there, they know what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, on a visit to Rochdale, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out Government plans to tackle grooming gangs, including a consultation on mandatory reporting for adults working with children.
Mr Sunak vowed to “stamp out this evil” as he met senior police officers, local authorities and others working on child sexual exploitation in the town where a grooming scandal was uncovered in a high-profile case in 2012.