New crime statistics released this month, as well as the disgraceful treatment of the Windrush Generation, have shed further light on the damage the Government is doing to the country. This month I've used the Easter Recess to make lots of visits in Sheffield, travel to the South West to visit the local police forces, and held the Government to account over the shocking reversal we've seen in life expectancy.
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd has resigned over the Windrush Scandal, first claiming to have no knowledge of removal targets before proof emerged that she had in fact written to the Prime Minister about them.
The Government's brutal
Amber Rudd is gone - but we still need answers and a statement on the catastrophic handling of the Windrush scandal. We saw during the election debates last year that Theresa May prefers someone to answer questions in her place, but it's her Government and the legacy of her policies as Home Secretary which has caused pain for so many people - she should be held to account.
New crime statistics this month have revealed a further acceleration in rates of violent crime, including a 22% jump in rates of knife crime.
The Government can no longer hide behind excuses for the state of public safety, as serious violent crime threatens communities across the country. The loss of 21,000 officers and 17,000 police staff has left the remaining police seriously overstretched, while cuts to other public services have left many with the police as the only service left to call in an emergency.
It's not just knife crime where the statistics are startling - robberies are up by a third, sexual offences up by 25% and gun crime up by 11%. In South Yorkshire, recorded crime is up by a third in just one year, with violence against the person seeing a staggering 57% jump.
Labour will start by hiring 10,000 new neighbourhood police officers, the vital link between the public and the police who help ensure crime is deterred to begin with. We understand that you can't protect the public on the cheap, and it's time the Government took notice.
This month the British Medical Journal revealed a shocking 11% rise in mortality rates in the first seven weeks of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. This equates to an extra 100 people in Sheffield dying compared to last year.
We're also seeing the first reversals in life expectancy for a century. Women and girls in the lowest 10% of incomes are now expected to live for two months less than they were before. Life expectancy of course cannot keep rising forever, but it's the speed of the change that looks unnatural and shocking.
I therefore led a Westminster Hall debate demanding answers from the Government about why this is happening and the impact of government cuts on life expectancy. It should be a scandal that this is happening in 21st century Britain - and the running down of our public services is hitting women hardest. Read more of my thoughts on this issue on PoliticsHome, and you can watch the full debate here.
I was delighted to visit the new Children's Centre at the Sheffield Children's hospital, a £40m extension featuring an on-site pharmacy, a coffee shop and new rooms designed to be more accessible for visiting family. The new ward has won awards for its design and contains artwork by children's illustrator Quentin Blake.
I also heard about some of the challenges they're facing as a hospital, particularly in terms of numbers of patients and the waiting times for CAMHS mental health services. They're looking at options for a dedicated helipad, and have been working with former Sports Minister Richard Caborn to develop a Child Research Unit at the Olympic Legacy Park.
This month I spent two days travelling across the South West of England, in my ongoing mission to visit every police force to see the innovative methods they use and the challenges they face.
Rural areas are often understandably seen as presenting a lower demand than our urban areas but they present their own unique challenges, primarily in relation to geography. In Devon and Cornwall, for example, there are just 0.7 officers per square mile, compared to 44 in London, making it very difficult to maintain a decent emergency response time. What’s more, Devon and Cornwall is responsible for policing 500 miles of coastline and for ten miles out to sea – challenges we simply aren’t used to in South Yorkshire!
It’s striking how similar issues affect forces all across the country, including the trafficking of children by drug rings in county lines operations, a worrying number of missing persons cases and huge rise in issues around mental health.
The problems are similar, and so are the solutions – we need enough officers for the restoration of neighbourhood policing, sufficient resources and innovation to deal with the new forms of crime the police have to deal with. You can’t protect the public on the cheap, and the Government’s failure to understand that is putting communities all across the country at risk.
A huge thank you to the Norton Over-55s group who invited me to come and speak to them at the Chantrey Centre this week. They wanted to hear about my life as an MP, and some of the work I do to represent people in the area.
We discussed some hugely important topics for Sheffield, including the lack of well-paid jobs (Sheffield is the lowest paid city in the UK), the cuts to school funding, and the increasing reliance on food banks. It’s important to tackle the problems behind some of the issues in our city too, like benefit sanctions, policing cuts and the loss of graduates to other cities.
I've appeared on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire version of the Sunday Politics, to discuss how 21,000 lost police officers since 2010 can't be taken out of the equation when it comes to the shocking rise in violent crime - 62% in South Yorkshire and with similarly astounding rates across the country.
I also took the chance to remember Len Tingle, the veteran Yorkshire politics reporter who recently passed away, and who I know will be sorely missed.
I attended an unusual sitting Friday, where we debated Chris Bryant’s Protect the Protectors legislation at its third reading. This Bill would introduce stronger sanctions and deterrents for assaults on emergency service workers, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and others.
In my role as Shadow Policing Minister I meet enough police officers who tell me the pressure they’re under from funding cuts, increasing missing persons and mental health cases, and new types of crime – they shouldn’t have to deal with assaults on them too.
At its last reading in November support for the Bill in the House was overwhelming and I’m glad we’ve seen the same level of enthusiasm today, as colleagues appreciate the importance of protecting those on the front line of keeping us safe. You can watch my speech as part of the debate here.
Further Rise in Local Unemployment
Following last month’s announcement of a rise in unemployment in Sheffield Heeley over the last year, which was covered in the Sheffield Star, this month’s figure show a further rise of 2%.
The Government’s rhetoric on devolution for the North is not enough – we desperately need the infrastructure and sustained investment that will bring us jobs and long-term opportunities.
NHS70 Nominations Submitted
I've submitted my nominations for a wide variety of health and care workers for the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards.
Among the nominees is Helen Clements, the Lead Nurse at the Broad Lane Walk-In Centre. At the start of this year I campaigned hard to save the Walk-In Centre from NHS plans (now under consideration) which would have seen it closed.
Nominations recently closed and the awards will be announced on July 4th, on the eve of the Health Service’s anniversary.
The rise in crime and the pressures on our NHS are driving much of the casework I've dealt with this month.
If you're a constituent with any problems you'd like help with, please contact me at Louise@LouiseHaigh.org.uk.
- Heeley City Farm are running their Bake Off on Saturday, May 12th, from 2-4pm, this time baking tarts. Enter yours for £2.50!
- I'll be holding an evening session of Coffee With A Copper on Friday, May 11th from 4:30-6:30pm. Please book in advance on 0114 250 8113 or reply to this email.
- Theatre Deli are hosting a new play about domestic abuse, used to train frontline police, on May 29th - find details here.
Get in Touch
If you have any comments, questions or have a problem you think I might be able to help with, give my office a call on 0114 250 8113 or email me.