Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to “drive down crime, tackle its root causes” if he becomes prime minister.
He accused the Conservatives of becoming the “party of crime and disorder” and claimed Labour would do things “very differently” if it were to win power at the next general election.
Writing for the Independent, the Labour leader launched his party’s campaign for safer communities, telling the public his party would prioritise “keeping you, your family and your community safe”.
His call echoes that of former Labour PM Tony Blair, who once pledged to be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”.
Sir Keir, who is currently self-isolating after his son tested positive for coronavirus, looked to play up his own former role as director of public prosecutions as he took aim at Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party’s “failed” record on policing and crime-fighting.
In his piece for the Independent, Sir Keir said police in England and Wales face a £1.6 billion funding shortfall and that between 2010 and 2020, 14,500 officers were cut by the Tories from the frontline.
We are pledging to drive down crime, tackle its root causes and ensure that criminals are brought to justiceSir Keir Starmer
He said: “I spent five years as this country’s chief prosecutor. I know what it takes to get criminals off the streets and get victims the justice they deserve.
“That’s not just the job of the Crown Prosecution Service. And it’s not just the job of the police – it’s the job of the Prime Minister, too. And I would step up where Boris Johnson has failed.
“At its heart, this is about priorities. Too many people feel unsafe in their own communities.
“Antisocial behaviour has skyrocketed, a generation of young people is growing up with their local youth clubs closed, youth workers lost – vital positive role models that help divert people from the grips of crime.
“The Conservatives have become the party of crime and disorder. Labour would do things very differently.”
Sir Keir said he would scrap plans for a £200 million national flagship vessel, designed to replace the Royal Yacht Britannia as part of the Prime Minister’s ambitions for post-Brexit Britain, and the money instead ploughed into community policing.
A future Labour government would also bring in new laws to crack down on dangerous driving and high-powered cars, while also campaigning for youth clubs to be restored, the party leader said.
Following recent public outrage over the abduction and murder 33-year-old marketing executive Sarah Everard as she walked home alone in south London in March, Sir Keir said Labour’s safer communities campaign would look to make Britain’s streets safe for women.
“Over 98% of reported rape cases don’t result in a charge. Let that sink in,” said Sir Keir.
“Unlike Boris Johnson – who dismissed it as “jabber” – we would take violence against women and girls seriously.
“We’ve already published a full green paper setting out proposals to reverse the record low convictions for rape and sexual harassment and provide far better support for victims of sexual violence.
“I want to live in a country where women and girls are safe to walk the streets alone.
“A country where parents don’t have to wait anxiously until their kids come home. A country where our elderly feel happy and secure in their own neighbourhood.
“That’s why Labour is launching our campaign for safer communities today.
“It’s why we are pledging to drive down crime, tackle its root causes and ensure that criminals are brought to justice.”
Sir Keir had planned to make the pitch on crime tackling as part of his summer tour across Britain to win voters back, with plans to be in the Midlands on Thursday before being told he needed to quarantine after Prime Minster’s Questions.
The Prime Minister, who is also self-isolating following contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for Covid-19 on the weekend, pledged at the 2019 election to recruit 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.