We must get on top of antisocial behaviour in Keighley and beyond - Robbie Moore MP
As Members of Parliament, we like to sing from the rooftops about the positives in our communities—how well our businesses are doing, how safe it feels to go around our town centres—but we need to tackle darker issues such as antisocial behaviour, fly-tipping and physical assaults taking place on our streets. I want to use the debate to outline some of the challenges that I unfortunately face in Keighley and in Ilkley, as well as some of the positive work that the Government are doing and further work that I would like them to do.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the police recorded 1.2 million incidents of antisocial behaviour in the year ending June 2022, which is a 16 per cent decrease compared with the year ending March 2020. Antisocial behaviour, while decreasing, remains a problem for us all to face, and I want to describe some examples of antisocial behaviour in Keighley. There is a huge problem around the bus station. Young people are being approached and mobile phones taken off them. Assaults are taking place in the centre of Keighley where people are coming and going, and wanting to access businesses. Sometimes, the environment is intimidating and unsafe. I receive a lot of correspondence about that particular hotspot.
There are various hotspot streets, particularly around the Lund Park area of Keighley, and I have received correspondence about Westburn Avenue. The incidents that take place are localised micro-incidents. Nevertheless, they build the fear factor that we all associate with antisocial behaviour.
We have had some darker incidents as well, such as vehicles being targeted, and petrol being poured on vehicles and set alight. That happened only a couple of weeks ago outside a location in Keighley that I know well. We have also had speeding and the antisocial behaviour associated with it, extreme speeding and cars with loud exhausts going up and down particular streets in Keighley, such as North Street, Cavendish Street, Oakworth Road and Fell Lane.
I have received a lot of correspondence about drivers purposely accelerating way beyond the speed limits that have been put in place. The police have been doing their level best to try to tackle those incidents.
Another issue in Keighley is cars being driven without insurance and parked cars that are way beyond having passed their MOT test. Some of those cars are parked at the roadside, particularly where drug drops and distribution take place.
I want to paint a picture of the challenges that we all face as MPs and describe the nature of the correspondence that is arriving in our inboxes, whether it is about speeding, antisocial behaviour or physical assault. We have to get to grips with why such incidents take place. It is predominantly those of a younger age who are participating in them, whether because of boredom or a lack of activities on offer to them.
One of the things that I have been doing is engaging in dialogue in community meetings. I hold large constituency surgeries and invite the police along, so that the issues can be raised.
It is always fed back to me that police prioritisation relies on data collection. How many meetings do MPs go to and hear that, while residents know that these issues are happening on their streets, they have not necessarily been reported via the 101 system or email, or to the community police station so that data is collected and police enforcement targeted in specific areas?
On the outskirts of Keighley, the Utley safer streets group holds regular meetings. It is organised at community level by local residents and provides me as the MP, district councillors and the local police with the opportunity to go along, receive information and provide feedback on what the local police forces do, while also serving as a means to hold them to account.
Street drinking is a big problem. It is one that we have in Keighley, particularly around the Church Green area, where groups hang around, causing issues for local businesses that want to grow, thrive and improve their customer base.
However, street drinkers are putting people off going to those businesses. In my constituency, the police are doing a lot to try to alleviate the issues, including engaging in dialogue and correspondence. Sometimes it is up to the pubs and venues themselves to address the drink-related issues that spill out from them and the issues caused by some wishing to access their facilities. It is very much about having a joined-up approach.
- This is an edited Parliamentary speech by Robbie Moore, the Conservative MP for Keighley