We can cut crime

Ming Campbell launched the Liberal Democrats ‘We can cut crime!’ campaign on January 22, 2007 as follows, and also launched the ‘We can cut crime‘ website:

Today I am launching a five step liberal campaign to cut crime in this country.

It is a radical approach, a practical approach and an effective approach.

And it has never been needed more than now.

Because – after ten years in office – Labour’s record on law and order is one of abysmal failure.

Tony Blair’s legacy on law and order is one of tough talk, and spectacular failure.

You know, I understand crime and I know what effective criminal justice is.

I spent nearly four years of my life prosecuting criminals in the courts.

My work there reinforced my conviction that a good justice system is one that seeks to engage, reform and, if necessary, punish.

It treats all citizens as equal before the law.

It seeks to deter as well as to reform criminal behaviour.

Shockingly, we live in a country where less than one in every hundred crimes committed leads to a court conviction.

Less than one in every hundred.

That means you are twice as likely to win a prize on a lottery ticket as you are to be convicted in court of a crime that you have committed.

And just as bad, we live in a country where eight out of ten teenage boys reoffend within two years of release.

These figures are a scandal.

They are symptomatic of a justice system that is ineffective in catching criminals and ineffectual in reforming their behaviour.

And there is plenty of crime to stop.

Violent crime has doubled under Tony Blair’s watch.

Street crime and mugging are rising rapidly towards a disturbing one hundred thousand incidents each year.

And Britain’s prison population has topped 80,000 for the first time in our history.

The fact is that people from deprived communities suffer most from these crimes.

They are most likely to be the victims.

Labour’s failure has hit hardest those who have least.

We now face a stark choice between philosophies.

On the one hand, we have Labour’s approach.

And on the other, we have the liberal alternative.

The government’s attitude is clear.

It gave up on the justice system years ago.

Fixed penalty notices. Cautions. Official warnings. ASBOs. And now serious crime prevention orders.

All of these prevent crimes ever reaching the court system where they often belong.

And as their use rises so does the number of crimes that do not lead to criminal convictions.

The government pursues headlines with more vigour than it pursues criminals.

Three thousand new criminal offences, and twenty three criminal justice acts have sought to reassure the public and discourage the criminal.

But no criminal has ever been stopped by a headline.

And our crime rates show it.

Yet if the government has proven unable to catch the guilty, it has proven only too willing to impugn the innocent.

A DNA database, identity cards, restrictions on free speech and assembly.

It seems that Labour would rather monitor the law-abiding than catch the offender.

And what do the Conservatives offer?

Nothing but empty rhetoric.

The party that traditionally favoured reactionary authoritarianism now has a leader who wants to hug a hoodie.

Look for practical policies to tackle crime and you will find that the Tories have nothing of substance to offer.

What Britain needs is effective action in the form of practical and pragmatic solutions.

To fight crime effectively, we don’t need to get tougher, we need to get smarter.

The Liberal Democrats recognise that challenge.

And we are ready to meet it.

A liberal approach to crime is an honest approach to crime:

It is based on what works rather than what sounds good.

It targets the offender rather than the innocent.

And it has the courage to engage with the criminal and reform their behaviour.

And where we have put that liberal approach into action, it has a record of success.

Our experience of local government clearly demonstrates that fact.

In Liverpool, a Liberal Democrat council has slashed domestic burglary by 24%.

And in Newcastle violent crime has fallen by 12%, after it doubled under Labour’s control.

What we have achieved at local level, we can achieve at national level too.

We can cut crime.

And we have the policies to do it.

From this collection of ideas we have drawn five proposals.

That’s five steps to a safer Britain.

Point one, we will put more police officers on the beat.

The government has ear-marked billions for their ID card scheme.

They will do little to tackle the reality of daily crime on Britain’s streets and estates.

But police officers can.

That is why we would redirect money for ID cards in order to expand our police service.

That is why Liberal Democrats say that we can cut crime.

Point two, we will take back our town centres.

It is unacceptable that members of the public fear crime on their streets.

It is not liberal to tolerate intimidation and disorder.

So we will empower members of the public to tackle this problem for themselves.

By amending the Licensing Act, we can make it easier for local communities and councillors to close pubs and clubs that create problems for local people.

That is why Liberal Democrats say that we can cut crime

Point three, we will have honesty in sentencing.

Under Labour, the average so-called life sentence is just eleven years.

And thousands of offenders spend less than half of their sentences in jail.

No wonder the public has little faith in sentencing.

Liberal Democrats believe that sentences should mean what they say.

Life will mean life: only those that judges believe should stay in prison forever will be given a life sentence.

And nobody will be released earlier than the minimum term that they are given.

We will also create Public Services Sentences.

These will punish non-violent criminals by giving them rigorous community work as an alternative to prison, which will be more productive and a more effective deterrent.

That is why Liberal Democrats say that we can cut crime

Point four, we will make prison work.

The current situation fails both the prisoner and society.

Prisoners who do not participate in education or training are three times more likely to go back to crime.

Yet well over half of offenders receive no training.

And only one in five of prisoners exceed the standards expected of an 11 year old in writing.

Instead, we will treble the number of prisoners working, and make education and training compulsory.

And for those with serious mental health problems there will be increased provision of secure mental health services.

We can foster skills amongst our prison population and create opportunities for those who would otherwise return to a life of crime.

That is why Liberal Democrats say that we can cut crime

Point five, we will introduce an entirely new approach to compensating victims of crime.

It will be fairer.

It will be simpler.

And it will be swifter.

It is only fair that money raised by prisoners in employment should go towards compensating their victims.

Prisoners shouldn’t sit in their cells for twenty three hours a day: they ought to be engaged in work that is productive and useful.

By making prisoners do real work for a real wage, we can also instil a sense of responsibility, enhance their skills and ensure that victims are properly compensated.

Prisoners will literally pay for their crimes, whilst gaining the skills and experiences needed to dissuade them from further offences.

That is why Liberal Democrats say that we can cut crime

These ideas show just how serious I am about law and order.

Our new ideas on cutting crime will be the centrepiece of our campaign in the run-up to May’s local elections.

And we will take that message to every corner of the country.

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Crime, Speeches, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to We can cut crime

  1. Pingback: Martin Tod » Blog Archive » We can cut crime!

Comments are closed.