At the start of the year the Prime Minister set out his 5 priorities for Government: covering inflation, the economy, debt, NHS waiting lists, and small boats. And we have seen a steady drumbeat of work to tackle all of these. But he was also clear that he wanted to work with Members of Parliament to tackle the day-to-day issues that residents highlight, including anti-social behaviour.
It is a topic which comes up in every meeting I have with Burnley Police, and our Police and Crime Commissioner. And one which I have raised in Parliament on several occasions.
It was therefore good this week to see the Prime Minister, Levelling Up Secretary, and Home Secretary announce a clear plan to tackle the issue – bringing swift justice and greater police visibility to ASB hotspots.
After much lobbying of the Policing Minister, it was brilliant that Lancashire was named as one of just 10 trailblazer areas for the ASB plan too. As a result, we will receive up to £2 million of extra funding to really lead the charge. Working with the Police, MPs, local authorities, local businesses and others, the Police & Crime Commissioner will identify areas where ASB is most prevalent – like in Burnley and Padiham town centres – and put in place extra patrols. That means more visible policing, and more officers to enforce the law. And the nitrous oxide canisters we have all started to see around parks and other areas will also now be banned.
Swifter forms of justice are also being introduced. And Community payback will be enhanced to ensure those perpetrating crimes will have to clean up the damage caused, with communities able to nominate projects for this.
In just under a month, we are going to see the latest figures for Lancashire Police, showing how many extra officers they have compared to 2019. At the end of December 2022 that stood at 435 and I fully expect that to increase further. The test of whether that makes a difference, however, is what they’re doing on the ground. I know with this plan, and the extra funding it brings, along with the focus our PCC has brought to issues like countering-drugs and cracking down on serious crime, we will see a real difference on the issues residents care about.
As I said in Parliament this week, we are seeing major regeneration across our borough but to make the most of this we need ensure our town centres in Burnley and Padiham are attractive, safe, and welcoming.