Wycombe Labour today exposes the secrecy and stupidity of the Tories in publicly announcing support for Wycombe on gang-related crime while at the same time telling local authorities privately that the support was being withdrawn. Wycombe Labour demands to know who knew about the withdrawal of support – and why no-one told Wycombe the bad news.
Councillor Khalil Ahmed, Labour Councillor for Disraeli, said
“I just cannot believe how incompetent and stupid this Tory Government is. It announced on 13 January that Wycombe was to get support in tackling gang-related crime as one of nine areas selected under a Home Office programme.
I welcomed that support and hoped some of the resources would benefit Disraeli where a number of serious incidents had taken place over Christmas. I welcome in particular the emphasis in the Home Office programme on safeguarding vulnerable girls.
Two weeks later we find out, from a leaked letter to local authorities, that the Home Office is scrapping the programme.
This Government is always keen to tell you that it is providing funding and support – but no-one says a word when the funding and support is cut.
Is it any co-incidence that the Home Office publicised the extension to its programme on the same day it published a very worrying research report on gang-related crime. Presumably the announcement was intended to stave off criticism of the Government’s lack of success.
But surely the Home Office knew when it made the announcement that the programme was going to close? Surely they knew the austerity cuts were going to fall on the programme. Perhaps they thought no-one would notice.
I just wonder when and if Wycombe District Council was informed the programme was ended? And when they proposed to tell us?
And did anyone consult Thames Valley Police?”
After a number of serious incidents in Disraeli over Christmas, Councillor Ahmed put out a statement asking, amongst other things, if there was a problem about gang-related crime in Disraeli – or indeed in Wycombe. He was then invited to a meeting with the Community Diversity Officer for Wycombe on 7 January and then to a meeting with Superintendent McLean on 11 January.
Neither of them mentioned the extension of the Home Office programme to Wycombe.
On 13 January, the Home Office published a research report about the increasing concern among police and youth justice workers over the growing sexual exploitation of women and girls by gangs and their use of young people to transport and sell drugs around the country.
The report said gangs had become less visible in the last two years, spending less time on the streets to avoid policing measures and operating more covertly, often developing links with organised crime, particularly in drug dealing.
The same day, the Home Office announced the extension of their programme to tackle gang and youth violence to nine new areas of England. Safeguarding vulnerable girls and women with gang links continued to be an important priority.
One of those nine areas was Wycombe.
The programme, called “Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation Peer Review Network” was set up by the Home Office after the 2011 riots and brought together police, academics, former gang members and experts to help local areas develop strategies for dealing with gang culture.
On 15 January, Wycombe Labour found out about the extension of the Home Office programme to Wycombe from the Bucks Free Press which ran it as a front page story. It quoted the Wycombe police response.
Wycombe Labour welcomed the support from the Home Office for Wycombe.
On 18 January, a senior police officer attended the Disraeli Neighbourhood Action Group, at Councillor Ahmed’s request, to explain to the residents what was happening in view of the serious incidents at Christmas.
The police officer was asked about the Home Office initiative and said he knew nothing about it. One of Councillor Ahmed’s colleagues gave the police officer a copy of the Bucks Free Press so he could find out.
On 29 January, a national newspaper reported that the Home Office was scrapping the programme. A leaked letter from the Home Office to local authority staff involved in the scheme said the “frontline team support and associated funding will be ending at the end of March” and that it would “not be offering any further centrally funded peer reviews or local assessment processes in the next financial year”.
For more information please contact:
Linda Derrick, Press Officer. Tel: 07760 152 457. E-mail: email@example.com
Promoted by and on behalf of Wycombe Labour Party by Ian Bates at 6 Conegra Road, High Wycombe, HP13 6DY