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Keir Starmer backs Anneliese Dodds as shadow chancellor

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds arriving at BBC Broadcasting House in central London - Credit: PA

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has backed shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds following reports he was considering moving her in a reshuffle of his top team.

On a local election campaign visit in Milton Keynes, Sir Keir told reporters: “Anneliese Dodds has my confidence, she has my full confidence, she is doing a fantastic job.

“And we are one team, and we have got really important elections in May.”

The Sunday Times reported that Sir Keir was preparing to demote underperforming shadow cabinet ministers after the local elections in May, with Dodds set to be the highest profile casualty.

Sir Keir said “all of the team” was campaigning across the country “absolutely focused on those May elections”.

His comments came as Labour accused the government of criminal justice failures, with “plummeting” conviction rates and a backlog of cases.

The drop in convictions over the past decade mirrors a drop in charges coming from the police.

Convictions for robbery, theft, criminal damage and arson, drug offences and fraud have fallen to a 10-year low, the opposition said.

Robbery convictions are down 53% in a decade, theft by 55%, 78% for criminal damage, 65% for fraud and 23% for drug offences.

The total number of convictions overall has also fallen from 586,890 in 2010 when Labour left office to 338,557 in 2020.

Sir Keir, on a campaign visit to a police station in Milton Keynes, said: “Today we are calling on the government to take urgent action because what we have seen over recent months is a plummeting of the conviction rates for robbery, for theft, for criminal damage – down by 50%, 60% even 70%.”

He said the fall in conviction rates was “not a Covid problem, that’s a huge failure of the government to deal with criminal justice”.

He acknowledged delays in hearing cases had been made worse by the pandemic, but they were bad before the virus hit.

A government spokesman said: “This government is determined to restore faith in the justice system – recruiting 20,000 police officers, spending £450 million to deliver speedier justice and keeping the most dangerous offenders behind bars for longer.

“The most serious offenders are spending longer behind bars than any point in the last decade and our court recovery measures are working – with the vast majority of trials listed within a year.”