Shadow home secretary insists Labour will never ‘defund’ the police

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
Nick Thomas-Symonds (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

Defunding the police will never be a Labour policy, the shadow home secretary has said.

Calls have been made to divert policing resources and funding to community projects and other ways to protect the public.

Black Lives Matter UK has said its use of “defund the police” means investing in programmes that “actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing”.

But Nick Thomas-Symonds told the party’s conference in Brighton: “No Labour home secretary will ever defund the police.

“That’s not our party, that’s the Tory party, and they have spent 10 years defunding our police.”

In a speech aimed at presenting Labour as the party of law and order, Mr Thomas-Symonds accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of failing to deliver.

He earlier said: “The safety of our communities is at risk from this Government.

“The reality is that the Conservatives have failed on crime.

“This Home Secretary likes to talks tough but she never delivers. She says she backs our frontline police officers and staff, but then insults them with a pay freeze.

“It’s no surprise that she has lost the confidence of 130,000 rank-and-file officers represented by the Police Federation, who are the undisputed voice of policing.

“The Conservatives are the party of crime and disorder. They are soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime.”

Be in no doubt that Labour is committed to keeping you, your family and community safe

Nick Thomas-Symonds

He added: “We want to reduce crime, not for the sake of sounding tough, but because we know the damage it does to our communities.

“So I say this directly to people who turned away from us in recent elections – look again. Be in no doubt that Labour is committed to keeping you, your family and community safe.

Mr Thomas-Symonds pledged to “bring back neighbourhood policing” with a plan to boost the “eyes, ears and boots on the ground” and a major recruitment drive for volunteer officers.

He set out a vision for a national rollout of “police hubs” with their own neighbourhood crime prevention teams to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

A “next generation neighbourhood watch” using technology including video doorbells and WhatsApp groups would be tasked with bringing people together to share information to tackle crime.

In the first year of a Labour government, the party said it would recruit 5,000 special constables, which it said was a doubling of last year’s level.

Labour also set out plans for a new child exploitation register which would see those convicted of modern slavery offences linked to county lines drug dealing added to a list similar to the sex offenders register.

The opposition plans to fund the proposals to tackle anti-social behaviour by scrapping Boris Johnson’s new maritime national flagship, set to cost an estimated £200 million to build and £83 million a year to run.

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