Bim Afolami, the MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has welcomed the announcement that Hertfordshire will receive £1.4m to crack down on crime in the county - but political opponents say that it isn't enough.

The funding, from the fifth round of the government's Safer Streets Fund, will be spent on projects chosen by David Lloyd, the police and crime commissioner for Herts.

It will be used to tackle neighbourhood crime, violence against women and girls, and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Afolami said: “Thanks to hard work by the Conservative government and Hertfordshire’s Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner David Lloyd, we now have record numbers of police officers on our streets – tackling local crime and keeping people safe.

"And we are starting to reap the rewards, with new stats showing that crime is down 13 per cent across the county since 2019.

“This new funding will help in our efforts to make Hitchin, Harpenden and the villages even safer places to live. I look forward to seeing how it benefits people in our communities.”

Hertfordshire Constabulary currently has 2,415 police officers, the highest number in its history. When the Conservatives came to power in 2010, the force had 2,130 officers.

Mr Lloyd said: "The benefits of this [increase] are seen on a daily basis with crimes such as burglary down by almost a half over the last four years.

"This new funding will be used to tackle those crimes that the public want the police to tackle – including anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls.

"Hertfordshire is, and will remain, one of the safest places to live in the country.”

However, representatives of other political parties have questioned whether the Conservative record on crime is as strong as Mr Afolami and Mr Lloyd make out.

Cllr Alistair Willoughby, chair of North East Herts Labour party, told this newspaper:  "I'm glad to see that Hertfordshire will receive £1.4 million to tackle some real issues that our communities are facing.

"However, it is increasingly clear that we need consistent year-on-year funding to ensure better preventative measures long-term.

READ MORE: New MRI scanner installed in Hitchin hospital

"Knife crime is up 76 per cent across the East of England since 2015. Robbery is up 36 per cent in the same period.

"Making Britain's streets safe is a central mission of the next Labour government.

"Our pledge is to bring back neighbourhood policing by putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police on Britain’s streets, including recruiting at least 10,000 more officers, PCSOs, and specials."

North Herts Labour & Co-operative Group Leader, Cllr Elizabeth Dennis added: “The Police and Crime Commissioner has had the opportunity to visit our district to understand the issues and challenges we face, but has constantly rescheduled his visit, and now won’t be seeing us until the autumn. 

"Regardless of the PCC’s engagement, councillors have continued to work closely with our local policing teams to identify priorities and take steps to reduce crime. However we are frustrated by lack of resource and regular staff relocation which creates a disconnect between communities and the police officers supporting them.

"Funding is welcome, but more must be done to recruit and retain good people in our local police force.”

Cllr Sam Collins, who was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden in 2019, said: 

"Giving with one hand and taking away with another, the Conservative party have staged another photo opportunity and issued another hollow promise.

"While additional funding for policing in Hertfordshire is welcome, it is not nearly enough, and does not really address the wider issues. 

"Last year, 30,000 muggings went unsolved, only eight per cent of robberies of personal property reported led to a suspect being charged, and, at a recent meeting of the Hitchin Committee, the police could not give any figures at all for violence against women. That last point is shocking and unacceptable. 

"Along with other Liberal Democrats up and down the country, I’m calling for a fundamental change, we need a return to community policing, where officers are visible and trusted, and have the time to focus on preventing local crime."