Police will ‘relentlessly pursue’ rapists and abusers under Labour government, says Shadow Home Secretary

The Shadow Home Secretary has warned rapists and abusers that under a Labour government “the police will be after you”.

Oct 11, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Yvette Cooper

She promised the Labour Party would ensure police relentlessly pursue the most dangerous perpetrators who pose a risk to women and would require forces to use counter-terror style tactics to get repeat serious offenders off the streets and keep women safe.

In her keynote speech to the Labour Party Conference on Tuesday (October 10), Yvette Cooper said she was “sick and tired of women who face abuse and violence being failed – generation after generation”.

And she was “sick and tired of the most serious perpetrators getting away with it”.

Ms Cooper said the next Labour government will put rape investigation units in every force and domestic abuse experts in every 999 call centre.

“We will require police forces to use tactics normally reserved for organised crime or terrorist investigations,” she said.

“To identify and go after the most dangerous repeat abusers and rapists and get them off our streets.

“If you abuse and hurt women, under a Labour Government the police will be after you, because everyone has the right to live in freedom from fear.”

Ms Cooper said Labour would also rebuild confidence in British policing.

She said this means: “Turning around the collapse in prosecutions, recruiting detectives so that more complex crimes, like fraud, are solved, reforming policing with new powers for the inspectorate if police forces fail, with firm action to tackle racism, and new vetting and misconduct rules to keep standards high.

“If officers shame their uniform or abuse their position, they will be quickly out.

“But for the tens of thousands of officers who strain every sinew, to keep the rest of us safe, we will back you.

“And we will be proud to introduce a bravery medal for police officers, firefighters and emergency service workers who lose their lives in the line of duty.

“We owe them our thanks for keeping us safe.”

Ms Cooper told the conference that a Labour government would also introduce legislation on tough new sentencing to tackle an “epidemic of shoplifting and violence against shop workers”.

‘Respect Orders’ would be introduced to ban repeat offenders from town centres, she said.

She also committed to end the £200 threshold for retail theft, which means “shop thefts under £200 aren’t investigated even if the same gang comes back time and again”.

“We will end the £200 rule to tackle the shoplifting gangs,” said Ms Cooper.

“And we’ll restore neighbourhood policing – 13,000 more neighbourhood police and police community support officers back on our streets.

“And guaranteed patrols in the heart of our towns.

“We will stand with USDAW, with the Coop, with Tesco, with our convenience stores, with retailers and shopworkers across the country, with a new law and tougher sentences for attacks on our shopworkers because everyone has the right to feel safe at work.”

Responding to the Shadow Home Secretary’s speech, Federation of Independent Retailers national president Muntazir Dipoti said: “We campaigned successfully in Scotland for the establishment of a standalone offence for those who abuse or use violence against retail workers.

“We are glad to see that the Labour Party is adopting this and has made a commitment to protecting retail workers.”

He added: “The Fed has campaigned for years for action to be taken against shop crime. With violence and abuse against retail staff and shop crime incidents continuing to rise, we welcome these commitments by the Labour Party to bring effective change to this issue.”

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the retail trade union Usdaw, said: “In the face of an epidemic of theft from shops, these policies will make a real difference to the lives of our members working on the front line of retail.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. Usdaw’s annual survey found that a third of incidents of violence threats and abuse against shopworkers were triggered by theft.

“We need a government to take the issue of retail crime seriously, not by suggesting citizens’ arrests or ignoring the problem, but by taking positive steps and actions which have broad consensus across the industry.”

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