Earlier this month I attended the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Despite all the difficulties in Parliament there was a lot of positivity at the Conference and hope for the future. The overriding theme of the Conference was “Get Brexit Done”. The vast majority of people I’ve spoken to on the doorstep over the past month or so, whether they voted Leave or Remain in the referendum simply want us to get on with leaving the EU so that we can move forward as a country and start fully focusing on over important domestic issues.
However, the Conference was about far more than just sorting out Brexit. One area where I have been quite active over the past few months has been crime. At the Party Conference I met with the new Crime Minister Kit Malthouse MP to discuss the Government’s approach to tackling knife crime and County lines.
Since Boris became Prime Minister I’ve been very pleased with the Government’s announcements on crime and anti-social behaviour. The commitment to 20,000 extra police officers and tougher sentencing is to be welcomed. At Conference both the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel made clear how much of a priority tackling County lines is for the Government. In fact County lines was mentioned specifically in the Prime Minister’s main speech. I’m very encouraged that this is such a priority for the Government.
Since my selection as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich I’ve visited most of the schools across the Town to meet with the respective leadership teams and its been made clear to me how much of an issue County lines is. I know this is an issue keeping many parents awake at night and its one we should be robust in stamping out this evil as a matter of the upmost priority. It’s sickening to think that many of our young people are being exploited and abused by an appalling set of criminals who deserve to be behind bars. It’s clear to me that both the police and the National Crime Agency need all the funding they need in order to ruthlessly track down these individuals and gang members and prevent them from spreading their evil across the country and poisoning the lives of many of our young people.
At Conference the Home Secretary committed a new £20 million fund aimed specifically at tackling County lines. This money will be used to fund a dedicated police unit that will operate at train stations to disrupt the movement of drugs and people involved in County lines. It will also fund the expansion of the National County Lines Coordination Centre to increase intelligence sharing and targeting.
In addition to the clear focus on County lines I was also pleased to see the new Justice Secretary providing some more detail regarding the move towards tougher sentencing for those who are found guilty of serious wrong doing. In particularly I was pleased to see the Government making clear that the practice whereby prisoners are let out automatically half way through serving a sentence will end. This is something I’ve been campaigning for since the start of the year and this change is very welcome.
All the time though, however good the national announcement is, my clear focus is on ensuring that Ipswich stands to benefit as much as possible from any new spending announcement or initiative. Before Boris formally became Prime Minister, he visited Claydon and I made crystal clear to him at the time that Suffolk needs a fair share of the 20,000 extra Police officers that he’s committed to delivering. When I spoke to the Policing Minister at Party Conference I explained to him the problems Ipswich has had with County lines and of the meetings I’ve had with parents and teachers across the Town.
My belief is that the current Government’s position on crime is close to where the majority of the public are. The vast majority of voters I talk to on the door step support tougher sentencing, more investment into our police and a robust approach to tackling County lines. This is a complex area and there is much to do but I’m very encouraged by the start the current Government have made.