2 April 2024 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families
  • Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

Government childcare announcement: More Conservative chaos hurting families

Responding to the Government’s childcare announcment, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

This latest Conservative chaos is hitting families hard. Parents are seriously worried about what the Government’s botched childcare expansion will mean for them.

Free hours are no good if parents can’t find a good nursery or childminder for their child – and thanks to Conservative underfunding, more than 3,000 providers have closed in the last year alone.

Instead of plunging families into even more chaos, the Government should take up the Liberal Democrats’ clear and properly-funded plan to ensure all parents can access childcare that is flexible, affordable and fair.

Only 0.1% of police dedicated to rural crime teams

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative government of “neglecting” rural communities as new data reveals that only 258 police officers and staff are dedicated to rural crime teams across England and Wales – just 0.1% of the overall workforce. It means fewer than one in 1,000 police officers around the country are dedicated to rural crime teams.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey will today call for Police and Crime Commissioners to be scrapped so the savings can be invested in frontline policing, including ensuring that every police force has a properly resourced rural crime team. It is estimated the move would save £150 million every four years.

Through a series of Freedom of Information requests, the Liberal Democrats have uncovered how many officers and staff are assigned to rural crime teams in each police force. 37 forces provided responses.

Rural crime is “crime and anti-social behaviour occurring in rural areas”, and includes many specific types of crimes that are unique to the countryside like livestock theft. These teams are focused on preventing and solving rural crime, with specialist knowledge, equipment and skills.

Not a single police force had more than 1% of its officers and staff deployed to rural crime teams. Shockingly, 9 police forces admitted to having no specific rural crime team in place – including Norfolk, West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

These disturbing revelations come as rural crime remains on the rise. NFU Mutual’s 2023 Rural Crime Report revealed that in 2022, the cost of rural crime across the UK rose by 22%, to an estimated total of £49.5 million.

Ed Davey will make the call from a local elections campaigning visit in Gloucestershire, where just 4 officers are focused on tackling rural crime across the whole region. The Liberal Democrat are arguing that every force should have a specialist coordinator in their rural crime team, in line with recommendations from The National Rural Crime Network.

The party’s proposal to invest savings from scrapping PCCs into resourcing rural crime teams is the latest in a string of Liberal Democrat calls for the Conservative Government to take rural crime seriously. Last year, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord tabled a Bill that would require the Home Secretary to bring forward a strategy for tackling rural crime.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

Yet again, we are seeing the shocking neglect of our rural communities from this Conservative government.

Local communities are worried sick about the impacts of rural crime, and to have such a small number of officers dedicated to tackling this serious issue is shocking. No wonder so many cases are going unsolved and criminals are getting off the hook.

Right across the country, Police and Crime Commissioners have failed to tackle rural crime. The role needs to be abolished so that resources can go into what really matters – improving frontline policing, including properly staffed rural crime teams.

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