MP says the po­lice are fight­ing an ‘in­vis­i­ble en­emy’

Llanelli Star - - Letters - Liz Perkins @lizperkin­spost 01792 545551 el­iz­a­[email protected]­di­awales.co.uk

THE “life-suck­ing so­cial can­cer” and “dev­as­tat­ing phe­nom­e­non” of county lines is wast­ing too many lives, de­stroy­ing too many fam­i­lies and wreck­ing too many com­mu­ni­ties, an MP has warned.

Carolyn Har­ris, MP for Swansea East, de­liv­ered the warn­ing dur­ing a Par­lia­men­tary de­bate last week in the wake of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice launch­ing its 100th mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion this year, and dubbed the prob­lem an “in­vis­i­ble en­emy”.

In March 28 peo­ple were jailed for a to­tal of 193 years as part of a Dyfed-Powys Po­lice op­er­a­tion which tar­geted the sup­ply of Class A drugs into towns and cities, in­clud­ing Llanelli.

Mrs Har­ris told of how towns and cities, in­clud­ing Llanelli and Swansea, were be­ing lost due to crim­i­nal ex­ploita­tion where gangs and or­gan­ised crime net­works ex­ploit chil­dren to sell drugs.

Dur­ing the de­bate brought by Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, Mrs Har­ris said: “Over the sum­mer the Metropoli­tan Po­lice launched their 100th mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. And in towns and cities all over the UK, the dy­namic of crime and the ne­ces­sity to change at­ti­tudes in polic­ing has never been greater.

“I have seen it first hand in my own city where the ex­cel­lent South Wales Po­lice are fight­ing, in many cases, an in­vis­i­ble en­emy. Face­less in ap­pear­ance, but dev­as­tat­ing in ac­tions.”

She added: “We are los­ing cities and towns up and down the coun­try to the dev­as­tat­ing phe­nom­e­non of county lines. Drugs, traf­fick­ing, pros­ti­tu­tion and com­mu­nity dev­as­ta­tion are the dread­ful con­se­quences of this life­suck­ing so­cial can­cer.”

Mrs Har­ris, who is also Shadow Min­is­ter for Women and Equal­i­ties and Home Af­fairs, said chil­dren’s lives were be­ing put at risk fol­low­ing a rise in vi­o­lent crime. She said it was vi­tal to swell the ranks of po­lice of­fi­cers to com­bat the threat.

“They are tak­ing our chil­dren’s lives, both metaphor­i­cally and lit­er­ally,” she said.

“We must stop think­ing that cur­rent po­lice num­bers and the avail­abil­ity of so­cial and com­mu­nity work is ad­e­quate.

“The level of sup­port, train­ing and in­ter­ven­tion this govern­ment needs to be look­ing at is far be­yond what they are cur­rently pre­pared to of­fer. Se­ri­ous vi­o­lence is threat­en­ing to over­whelm our com­mu­ni­ties, and I re­gret to say this govern­ment is nowhere to be seen.

“The num­ber of chil­dren aged be­tween 10 and 15 be­ing treated for stab wounds has in­creased by 69% since 2013. More than half of the crimes against chil­dren from that same age group are re­lated to vi­o­lence.”

She added: “The Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner has shown that a to­tal of 70,000 youths aged up to 25 are feared to be part of a gang net­work. Too many lives are be­ing wasted. Too many fam­i­lies de­stroyed. Too many com­mu­ni­ties dev­as­tated.”

She said min­is­ters were fail­ing to grasp the surge in se­ri­ous vi­o­lence and said the End­ing Gang Vi­o­lence and Ex­ploita­tion Fund, which is part of the Se­ri­ous Vi­o­lence Strat­egy, was in­suf­fi­cient at £300,000.

She added chil­dren were the vic­tims of aus­ter­ity and ris­ing poverty with 120,000 chil­dren home­less, more than 70,000 in care and many thou­sands ex­cluded from school.

“The con­se­quences for many hun­dreds of fam­i­lies are dev­as­tat­ing,” she said. “Vi­tal ser­vices are be­ing pared back as a re­sult of lo­cal au­thor­ity cuts, mean­ing that fam­i­lies ar­rive into the sys­tem when they are al­ready at cri­sis point. Vi­o­lent crime has more than dou­bled in the last five years and is now at record lev­els.

“Last year alone, of­fences in­volv­ing firearms in­creased by 11% while those in­volv­ing knives and sharp in­stru­ments in­creased by dou­ble that.

“I could re­gale to you reams of ex­am­ples. And de­spite the sto­ries I could tell, the End­ing Gang Vi­o­lence and Ex­ploita­tion Fund will be just £300,000. Hardly a com­mit­ment to tackle the re­al­ity of the se­ri­ous crime that is in our towns and cities.

“The time has passed for talk­ing: we need to be pro­tect­ing our cities, our com­mu­ni­ties, our chil­dren. It is time for this govern­ment to in­vest ap­pro­pri­ately.”

The Home Of­fice was con­tacted for a comment.

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