Labour leader pledges to tackle rural crime after hearing about armed robbery

Labour leader pledges to tackle rural crime after hearing about armed robbery

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was told about a terrifying attack on a village post office as he pledged to tackle rural crime with a cross-government strategy.

Sir Keir discussed experiences of crime with local people as he toured the village of Cawood, in North Yorkshire.

He was told about a robbery by an organised gang six weeks ago at the post office and shop in nearby Monk Fryston, which left one staff member injured.

The shopkeepers told Sir Keir how they had decided to end the post office part of the business in the wake of the raid, which was a blow to the surrounding community.

They told the leader of the opposition how the closure of banks in rural areas had led to people using post offices instead, leading to them becoming a target for organised crime due to amount of cash they hold.

Sir Keir, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Labour’s candidate for the forthcoming North Yorkshire mayoral election, David Skaith, who joined them on the visit, told the shopkeepers how concerned they were about their experience.

Sir Keir Starmer visit to Selby
Sir Keir Starmer (centre) talked to villagers in Cawood, North Yorkshire, about their experiences of rural crime (Danny Lawson/PA)

“It’s a reminder that rural crime really matters,” Sir Keir told reporters.

“For them it’s a life-changing decision that they decided they can’t run the post office any more.”

He said: “Also, they know it impacts on their community.

“They are there to serve their community but they feel, for their own safety, they’ve got to take this measure.

“And that’s why we’re all three frustrated by people who think that rural crime is some kind of low-level crime. It isn’t. That’s a really serious example.”

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer unveiled a strategy to tackle the issues blighting communities outside of Britain’s towns and cities (Danny Lawson/PA)

Sir Keir said: “Everybody who has talked to us this morning and everybody in North Yorkshire and in every rural community is entitled to the security and safety of knowing that crime is under control and, sadly, it’s out of control under this Government.”

He said Labour’s strategy involved bringing Government departments together to work in a joined-up way and increase neighbourhood patrols.

Sir Keir said: “What we’re hearing here is that, whilst there is a bit of a response, it’s slow and disjointed.

“So, we’ve put together a cross-government strategy to make sure that all the relevant departments will be engaged in, not only putting the strategy together, but then enforcing it, to make sure that these beautiful villages and towns that we have here in North Yorkshire, but across all rural areas, get the sort of service that they need to deal with the crime that is really troubling them.

“Listening to people from these villages here this morning, it’s really, really on their minds.”

Sir Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper heard about a recent raid on a rural post office (Danny Lawson/PA)

Ms Cooper said the plan was for 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs across the country to increase patrols.

She said: “That has to be for all areas – for our cities, for our towns, but, crucially, also for our rural communities across the country. And that means more neighbourhood patrols in rural areas.”

Ms Cooper said this would be paid for with savings of hundreds of millions of pounds through tackling “wasteful contracts” across police forces.