THE SHADOW policing minister has called for the "culture of policing" to change during her visit to Baildon at the weekend.

Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, spoke up about the challenges facing the police force and the party's stance on rising crime levels at Baildon Community Link.

In her speech, the politician said the focus needs to be put on building relationships with the community, gathering intelligence and crime prevention.

The MP said, if Labour wins an election, she would re-introduce a Neighbourhood Policing Pledge and recruit 10,000 additional police officers. This would mean at least one officer for each neighbourhood area in the country, she explained.

Ms Haigh, who once served as a special constable, said: "Crime has been rising, including violent crime. Fear of crime has also been rising.

"Labour believes that Conservative austerity has been a major cause of this. The austerity is not just in policing but wider austerity in the criminal justice system.

"There have been cuts to police numbers, pay and pensions of the police. Neighbourhood policing has been particularly badly hit.

"Crime impacts on the poorest most, especially black and minority ethnic communities and single women.

"The culture of policing will need to change."

Jo Pike, Labour party parliamentary candidate for Shipley Constituency, backed the call for a new approach and described the current Shipley MP's cry for tougher sentences as a "knee jerk reaction".

She warned that, while longer prison sentences may work for some, it does nothing to reform reoffending criminals. Ms Pike is campaigning for money to be pumped into the criminal justice system and services as a whole.

Ms Pike said: “Only seven per cent of crimes are prosecuted. To me, that was quite shocking. It's not just about putting police on the streets, it's about where people put them.

"It's about things like cutting youth services. There's no stuff for young kids to be doing; starting off with anti-social behaviour and working their way up into more menacing things.

"Philip Davies says he is a real defender of the police so I would want to ask him ‘You’ve been in government for the last decade and we’ve seen some of the biggest rises in crime’. It’s just not working. His answer is to lock people up for longer but the prisons are overcrowded. It’s a knee jerk reaction to a complex problem. It needs all the services to work together and money to be put into different points in the services.”.

But Philip Davies, the current MP for Shipley, hit back by saying he makes "no apology" for his views on the prison system.

He said: “It is staggering that the Labour candidate doesn’t want to see more criminals sent to prison. Whenever I am with police officers they tell me the best way to ensure crime is reduced is to ensure persistent offenders are in prison. Jo Pike’s desire to see fewer criminals sent to prison is a kick in the teeth to victims and to the police, and will lead to even higher levels of crime.

“I make no apology for being a hard liner on crime. The more criminals who are in prison the fewer criminals there are on the street committing crime.

“I have also supported giving the Police the tools to make it easier to detect crime and bring criminals to justice - such as more CCTV cameras and having more people on a DNA database - no doubt more measures that Labour would oppose given they are led by people who have campaigned against the police all their political lives.”