Patel defends record as Home Secretary as she faces criticism over crime rates

·3-min read

Priti Patel faced accusations of overseeing a rise in gun and knife crime as she defended her record as Home Secretary.

Ms Patel’s defence of her time in office came hours before she announced she will resign as a minister once Liz Truss formally becomes prime minister.

She told the Commons she is “proud” of her time at the Home Office, which has seen “some of the biggest reforms on security, migration and public safety”.

But she faced questions about crime rates after several high-profile violent incidents over the summer, including the deaths of nine-year old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Liverpool and pensioner Thomas O’Halloran, 87, in London.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “successive Conservative home secretaries” are responsible for a “serious problem” with violent crime.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel
Olivia Pratt-Korbel, nine, was shot dead in her home in Liverpool (Family handout/PA)

Ms Cooper paid tribute to the families of those caught up in violent incidents in recent months and said: “Stabbings are now 60% higher than in 2015, yet the number of violent criminals caught is at a record low.

“There is a serious problem in this country with gun crime, with gangs, with knife crime.

“Not my words, but those of the incoming prime minister. So why have successive Conservative home secretaries allowed it to get this bad?”

Thomas O’Halloran, 87, was stabbed to death on his mobility scooter
Thomas O’Halloran, 87, was stabbed to death on his mobility scooter (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Ms Patel responded by accusing Labour of not supporting the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which she said “had all the right deterrents in place to go after criminals”, while the Government has supported the police “every single step of the way”.

As Home Office questions began, she had said: “Before I answer today’s questions and start questions, if I may, I’d briefly like to remark on the last three years of Boris Johnson’s prime ministership under which I’ve served as Home Secretary.

“This morning, a written ministerial statement was tabled in my name outlining the work of the Home Office, this department over the last three years on our manifesto commitment and with that, of course, some of the biggest reforms on security, migration and public safety which the Speaker’s (Sir Lindsay Hoyle) just spoken about.

“I’m proud to serve in this Government and I’d like to thank the Prime Minister, Home Office ministers past and present and a wide range of officials.”

In her resignation letter addressed to Mr Johnson, Ms Patel said she will return to the back benches once Ms Truss “formally assumes office and a new home secretary is appointed”.

Shadow policing minister Sarah Jones also criticised Ms Patel’s record, saying “on her watch far more people are a victim of crime”.

She added: “Police officers are forced to use food banks and the police have declared no confidence. What does the minister think the Home Secretary is most proud of: criminals laughing in our face as they get away with it, or thousands more people across this country blighted by crime?”

Crime and policing minister Tom Pursglove defended his boss, claiming Ms Patel has “done a sterling job”, and that she can be “proud of seeing, nationally, burglary being down 24%, neighbourhood crime down by 33%, vehicle offences down by 28%, the fact that we’ve got 72,000 weapons off our streets compared to 2019”.

Ms Patel also told MPs the French are “friends” as she discussed tackling Channel crossings, just weeks after incoming prime minister Ms Truss said during the Tory leadership race the “jury is out” on whether President Emmanuel Macron is a “friend or foe” to the UK.

The Home Secretary also defended the Government’s Rwanda policy, telling the Commons: “This partnership is very clear in terms of standards, the treatment of people that are relocated to Rwanda, the resources that are put in and also the processing of how every applicant is treated.”