Monday, January 22, 2007


Liberal Democrats - Serious about cutting crime

The Liberal Democrats today launched their “Five Steps to a Safer Britain” campaign, highlighting the ways that we will work to cut crime and make communities safer. I think the policies really do make sense. They’re outlined in full below.

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.

I think these policies really make sense. They will give communities the power and the resources to change things for the better themselves. They will make sure that punishments are sensible, straightforward and clear. And they offer support where it is necessary. They make clear that prison needs to do more to make sure that the people in it don't come out and re-offend. They make clear that the victims of crime should be recompensed and that the perpetrators of crime should be dealt with effectively.

And they show that we really can cut crime with policies that are proven to work.


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