Security is important to us all, in so many ways.This has certainly been brought up on the streets of Furness. It gets to the very heart of how we see our area and indeed ourselves and our place in the world. It is Labour that protects our streets.
Both as Home Secretary and Prime Minister, Teresa May has been a disaster for your safety. Police numbers have been cut to the bone – this has been felt especially in our communities. Our unique location has not been taken into account and lack of numbers can make policing slow and reactive, despite some excellent initiatives and the tireless work of our police constables. For the wider Furness area, we need to show there is a constant presence in towns like Ulverston and rural police stations should be manned regularly, boosting engagement in our communities. PSCO’s also play a huge part and we support an increase in their numbers – one good example where this is effective is with the Mini Police and Keeping Safe work they are doing in local schools. This type of proactive thinking should be applauded, and more of this is needed.
Local anti-social behaviour requires local solutions with national support. In Central Barrow and elsewhere, there is a growing problem with gangs of youths in their early teens. Police have worked hard with other agencies through initiatives such as Operation Shetland which supported vulnerable children with anti-social issues. However, this was a targeted response and we need more investment in agencies such as Children’s Services to tackle these issues across the board. Social Work in Furness is chronically underfunded and too heavily populated with agency staff. Social Workers’ caseload is too high, leading to top down pressure on them to ‘step down’ cases too quickly – good people being pushed beyond endurance. A social work degree course should be better available through Furness College, funded locally and available part-time to front line workers with vulnerable people, the expertise is out there, untapped.
Austerity has gripped areas of Furness and with that comes an upsurge in domestic violence. We need to boost our support for programmes such as Turning the Spotlight to re-educate offenders and support the vulnerable. A great initiative has been the ‘Domestic Violence Champions’ Training in Cumbria where workers were trained to spot signs, offer a listening ear and offer support in the workplace. We need to extend this into as many organisations as possible to support the public sector, true corporate responsibility which I alluded to yesterday. This is an enormous issue which affects families. I was once one of those children with my hands over my ears hidden upstairs – we have got to support the vulnerable and fight the system that leaves them there as there is insufficient support at present. Support the police/schools led Operation Encompass and push for it to be extended into Nursery provision to protect those families with the smallest children. Children’s Services and when possible the Local MP, should be attending the hub meetings – join the dots together and provide a rounded, convincing solution for those that need us the most.
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