Priti Patel branded a 'hypocrite' as violent crime in her constituency doubles – Mirror Online


Priti Patel’s own constituents have branded her a hypocrite for vowing to crack down on violent crime after ­she allowed the blight to explode on their doorsteps by backing police cuts.

The Sunday People can reveal cases have surged by over 60 per cent in the heart of the Home Secretary’s patch under Tory rule.

And furious residents in her Witham
constituency in Essex say she has failed them.

We visited the town, where the former police station is being turned into offices.

Butcher Adam Gibbons blames police cuts for a daytime raid on his shop Humphreys in nearby Braintree, where two young thugs stole a 12in steak knife and 6in boning blade.

He said they walked straight behind the counter, grabbed the knives and said “we’re borrowing these” and walked out.

Priti Patel’s own constituents have branded her a hypocrite for vowing to crack down on violent crime after ­she allowed the blight to explode on their doorsteps by backing police cuts


“It was terrifying. They are now so cocky they are stealing in blind sight because there’s no police. They still haven’t been caught.”

Dad of two James Collins, 49, who lives in the Hatfield Estate area, said: “Priti’s constituents should be her responsibility, yet she’s neglecting them. I’ve reported crime
frequently. It’s fuelled by drugs. One lady who worked at a shop was beaten up and has now had to move out of Witham.”

Speaking outside the block of flats, where there’s a sofa on the lawn, he added: “I never see the police and we have a community support officer I’ve seen twice.”

Adam Gibbons who was attacked when boys tried to steal his knives

Our probe revealed that in the district of Braintree, which as a policing area covers part of Ms Patel’s patch, crimes including possession of weapons, violence with injury and street robbery and muggings have shot up.

Office for National Statistics for the district show in the year to March 2010 there were 598 cases of violence with injury, compared with 965 in the year up to March this year – an increase of over 60 per cent. Street robberies surged from 35 to 70 over the same period.

Police in Essex have also been cut by 15 per cent since 2010 – meaning 535 fewer officers. Witham’s police station closed three years ago as part of a £63million cash-saving scheme.

Hairdresser Kellie Holman told of how salon Yaxley Hair and Beauty was targeted by a drunken yob who booted the window in front of shocked customers.

Hairdressers Kellie Holman and Hope Hassell at the salon where the window was smashed

The 49-year-old said: “Nothing like this has happened before. Crime has got worse, especially since the station shut. There are fewer and fewer officers.”

Locals claim there has been a spate of break-ins. At a convenience store, an employee said: “My neighbour was broken into in the middle of the day. But luckily she was in. They’ve now had to install cameras.”

A worker at Newlands Shopping Centre, in Witham town centre, said: “People are getting beaten up. And we just go about our normal business, that’s how it is round here.”

In July, a man and two women were found with stab wounds on a street. And earlier this month a transgender teen had his face cut in an attack police are treating as a hate crime.

Witham’s police station closed three years ago as part of a £63million cash-saving scheme

Last year, officers were called to restaurant Little India in Witham after a fight broke out between up to 40 people – some of them brandishing weapons including a machete. Seconds after we arrived on the town’s high street, a dealer offered us cannabis.

Drug users were puffing away without a care in front of boarded-up shops. Pavements were covered with shattered glass.

Last weekend Ms Patel, 47, told of her plan to combat street violence by ending soft sentences and giving police more protection. As she made her vow, she told how she had been targeted on her own doorstep before she was MP for Witham.

She told how a drug-crazed thug hanging around her home pulled a blade on her as she tried to get to her front door.

She said she had been “really upset”, adding: “Violent crime concerns us all. It invades communities and homes. It can break neighbourhoods and it has such a long-standing, chilling impact.”

Seconds after Mirror reporter Scarlet Howes arrived on Witham High Street she was offered cannabis

But Eileen Davidson MBE, chair of the Witham Labour branch, called her a “hypocrite”. She said: “She slates the police for their lack of action at the same time as voting for all the cuts.

“She has encouraged private policing with parish councils encouraged to pay for special constables. The cuts have meant the PCSOs have disappeared.

“All that knowledge has gone, there’s nothing to combat that sort of crime. Priti is a hypocrite. She talks the talk and fails to walk the walk.”

Her views were echoed by teacher Chris Vince, who stood as Labour’s candidate for Essex’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in 2016 but lost to Tory Roger Hirst.

Glass at launderette in Newlands Shopping Centre which is constantly vandalised

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He said: “We’ve lost hundreds of officers since 2011. It’s such a hypocritical thing to talk about when you have been part of a government which for nine years has overseen massive cuts. Cuts have consequences. I’ve seen the amount of pressure police are under.”

Essex Police said: “Recorded crime in England and Wales is, on average, about 30 per cent higher than in Braintree.

“The number of violence with injury offences remains much lower than the national average and reduced in the 12 months to August, while robbery rates are three times higher nationally.

There has been a rise in the number of possession of weapons recorded and this represents positive, proactive police work.

A launderette in Newlands Shopping Centre which is constantly vandalised

“Crime is increasing across the country and Essex is no different.”

The Home Office said: “The Home Secretary’s first priority is to tackle crime both in Witham and across the country.

Essex Police is receiving almost £300million in 2019/20, including council tax, a £23million increase on the previous financial year.

The Government has also started recruiting 20,000 additional police officers, as well as backing them to do their jobs by making it easier for them to use stop and search powers.

“Just this week, the Home Secretary ­announced further ­measures so that the police have the powers and tools they need to keep us safe, including equipping more officers with Tasers and a £20million package to roll up county lines drugs gangs.”

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