29 March 2023 – today’s press releases

  • Only 2% of car thefts resulted in a charge last year
  • Government criticised for having no dedicated team working on water pollution
  • Ethics adviser must investigate Sunak over wife’s shares in company benefiting from government scheme
  • PMQs: Raab challenged over GP crisis in his own constituency

Only 2% of car thefts resulted in a charge last year

  • Home Secretary blasted as “asleep at the wheel” as tens of thousands of car thefts go unsolved
  • Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing with known officers on the beat to clamp down on crime.

New research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has shown that just 2% of car thefts in England and Wales result in a charge.

The official Home Office data, analysed by the House of Commons Library, revealed there were 100,000 car thefts in the the first three quarters of 2022.

Of the instances of car theft, an eye-watering 68,800 went unsolved. And – of those cases who did have a suspect – just 2% resulted in a charge.

Analysis of the statistics shows that the number of car thefts rose by over a third in the past year when comparing the same time period in 2021 to 2022, up from 74,605 in the first three quarters of 2021 to 97,225.

Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing with known officers on the beat to clamp down on crime.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library found that the number of community police officers have fallen by more than 4,000 since 2015 across England and Wales.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

The Home Secretary is asleep at the wheel. Criminals are getting away with almost every car theft in the country – this is an outrageous failure. People are waking up to find their car gone and the police too overstretched to actually catch the criminal.

These thieves need to be caught and punished.

Criminals who have brought misery to communities across the country.

We need more coppers on the beat to clamp down on these crimes going unsolved. Instead, the Government has slashed community officer numbers, which only benefits the criminals.

Government criticised for having no dedicated team working on water pollution

  • Parliamentary question also reveals the Government has not increased staffing numbers to deal with sewage crisis despite public outrage
  • Liberal Democrats demand creation of dedicated team at Environment Agency to clean up rivers and coastlines

A parliamentary question tabled by the Liberal Democrats has revealed the Environment Agency has no dedicated team working on water pollution.

In response to Tim Farron MP, the Minister admitted that of the two teams at the Environment Agency dealing with water pollution, neither work full-time on the matter:

– Land and Water: 30% of its time on water issues
– Ground Water & Contaminated Land: 3% of its time on water issues

The response also reveals that staff numbers to deal with water pollution have not increased since 2015, despite public outrage. There are 549 full-time staff at the Environment Agency who deal with water pollution compared to 543 in 2015.

The Ground Water & Contaminated Land has seen staffing numbers cut by 29% since 2015.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding the creation of a dedicated team within the Environment Agency to cope with water companies pumping sewage into rivers and coastlines. The party is also demanding new funding to increase Environment Agency staffing numbers.

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron said:

This simply isn’t good enough. Water companies are committing an environmental scandal and the Government appears powerless to stop them.

It is frankly pathetic that one of the teams tasked with taking on the water companies spends just three percent of its time on the problem. What on earth is that supposed to achieve?

Ministers are tone deaf on the sewage crisis. They should be throwing the kitchen sink at this. Instead they appear to be sitting on their hands and starving the Environment Agency of resources.

The Environment Agency needs to have a dedicated team working non-stop on water pollution. Most importantly of all, they need more resources and staff to get on top of this.

Ethics adviser must investigate Sunak over wife’s shares in company benefiting from government scheme

The Liberal Democrats have called for the government’s ethics adviser, Sir Laurie Magnus, to investigate Rishi Sunak over a potential breach of the ministerial code. It follows revelations that the Prime Minister’s wife owns shares in one of the private childcare providers, Koru Kids, that will benefit from a new government pilot.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Wendy Chamberlain said:

There are serious questions for Rishi Sunak to answer over any potential conflict of interest, and any extra income his family could receive from his own government’s policy.

Too often we have seen Conservative sleaze run amok. The public must be reassured that any breach of the ministerial code by the Prime Minister will be fully investigated.

PMQs: Raab challenged over GP crisis in his own constituency

Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney has challenged Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab over the GP crisis in his own backyard.

She raised the case of health services in his constituency of Esher and Walton, where it’s been reported GP surgery staff are ‘crumbling under pressure’ due to increased workload. Sarah Olney challenged Raab to explain what he has to say to “patients left in pain and staff left in tears, including in his own constituency, due to his government’s failed promise to recruit more GPs.”

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that there are now over 500 fewer GP surgeries across the country than in 2019, while the number of fully qualified GPs has fallen by 850 since then.

The exchange came as the Liberal Democrats launched their party’s local election campaign with a pledge to recruit more GPs. This would be achieved through increasing training places for GPs, a programme to retain experienced doctors and staff, and launching a recruitment drive to encourage those who’ve left the NHS to return.

Speaking, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney said:

Dominic Raab’s response today showed his clear failure to understand the problems facing GPs and patients not just across the country, but even in his own constituency.

For too long, this Conservative Government has taken voters for granted, and today’s response was just yet another example of just how out of touch they are.

People just want strong local health services but years of Government neglect has caused a GP shortage crisis, leaving people unable to see their local doctor when they need to, and medical staff facing unmanageable workloads.

Liberal Democrats would guarantee people a right to a GP appointment within one week so people can get the care they deserve. Boosting GP numbers would not only help people get appointments, it would reduce pressure on our hospitals and paramedics, saving crucial time and money elsewhere in the NHS.

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Esher and Walton, Monica Harding said:

People in Esher and Walton and across Surrey are suffering under Conservative mismanagement of our NHS. Hard working doctors are being pushed to breaking point, and patients here are paying the price. The choice in Esher and Walton, and across Surrey could not be more clear: rising waiting lists and an NHS in crisis under the Conservatives, or real action to save our Health Service with the Liberal Democrats.

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