The Shadow Home Secretary says she is “sick and tired that things aren’t changing” but has a “mission” to halve violence against women and girls in a decade.
She wants to win control of the Home Office in the coming general election and change Britain so parents do not fear for their daughters’ safety when they go out at night. The mother of three is fed up that women still need to text a friend when they get home to say they are safe.
Ms Cooper told the Sunday Express: “Everybody should be able to feel safe
on the streets… Parents should be able to feel confident their kids will be able to get home safely.”
She points back to the Reclaim the Night marches which began in 1977 in the wake of the murders by Peter Sutcliffe. Anger at the police response to the killings and fury at advice to stay indoors led women to hold torchlit protests.
She said: “That was people demanding change and demanding our streets should be safe. We’re still having the same conversations.”
Concern about violence against women soared after the murder of Sarah Everard by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, and the killing of Zara Aleena, who was attacked while walking home in east London.
Ms Cooper says she understands the anxiety that mothers and fathers feel for their children. “As a parent, you’re always thinking, ‘Have they made it home?’” she said. “It shouldn’t be like that any more.”
Ms Cooper has pledged to take “much stronger action” to protect women if her party wins power.
“It means things like putting domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms so when the call comes in they know how serious
it is,” she said. “It means specialist rape prosecution units in every police force.”
Police would be required to use tactics deployed to catch terrorists and stop organised crime to prevent those who are a danger to women committing more atrocities.
Ms Cooper, 54, is also determined to tackle the scourge of knife crime, an issue high on the political agenda since the fatal stabbing of schoolgirl Elianne Andam.
She says the proper and effective use
of stop-and-search powers has a “really important” role in tackling knife crime. She wants officers to go “after the gangs that may have armed kids in the first place”.
In a clear pitch to position Labour as the party of law and order, she says getting “bobbies back on the beat to take action is really important”. A key campaign pledge is to put “13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs on to the streets”.
Ms Cooper is alarmed the number of arrests has fallen from nearly 1.4 million in 2009-10 to just over 677,000 in 2022-23.
The tally of arrests for theft has crashed from more than 141,000 in 2017-18 to fewer than 89,000 in 2022-23.
“More criminals are getting off and more victims are being let down,” she said.
“That means the law is not being enforced and there are no consequences.”
She fears this undermines respect for
the law and people’s confidence that “the police are going to be there when they need help”. If Ms Cooper becomes Home Secretary, she will also face the challenge of stopping small boats crossing the Channel and ensuring the country has an immigration system fit for purpose.
She is adamant people smugglers must be prevented from herding men and women on to dinghies and calls for a “common-sense approach” to the crisis.
This former chairwoman of the Home Affairs select committee has a clear message to the criminals: “They need to know the police will be going after them.”
She wants to see those behind the smuggling networks “caught, charged and convicted” so that they “pay the price for their crime because that’s not happening”.She stamps on claims Labour would negotiate a deal with the EU countries to allow Britain to send back migrants in return for taking a “quota”. She said: “We’re not members of the EU, we’re not going to
be members, so we will not be part of the EU quota scheme.”
In the months leading up to the election she will cross swords with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, regularly described as a potential successor to Rishi Sunak.
Ms Cooper said: “The problem withSuella Braverman is that she is a part-time Home Secretary and a full-time Tory
“It’s like she’s just ramping up the
rhetoric to try to get headlines rather than calming things down by having sensible solutions and sorting problems out – and that’s the problem.”
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