Tag Archives: crime

Norman Baker MP writes… Proud of the Lib Dem record on crime prevention

Two weeks is a long time in politics. In a few days I’ve gone from high-speed rail, environmental issues, and cycling to anti-social behaviour, drug policy and tackling violent crimes. It was a fantastic opportunity to work in the Department of Transport, and I know Susan Kramer will make an excellent Minister. We have achieved a lot in a short period of time, and I know Susan will continue to develop positive, progressive and sustainable transport policies.

I am very pleased to have been appointed as Minister for Crime Prevention, and continuing the good work which Jeremy Browne has done in …

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… The Liberal Democrats are presiding over falling crime

Today the Coalition Government has – once again – confounded its critics. Despite the ongoing challenges in our economy, crime continues to fall. Criminologists and Labour politicians have repeatedly pointed to the country’s economic troubles and insisted we would see a rapid increase in crime rates. The most pessimistic forecasters warned of an explosion in criminality that would undermine the very fabric of our society. And yet today we hear that crime in England and Wales is at its lowest point since the independent crime survey began in 1981.

The facts speak for themselves. Crime has been lower every single …

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Duncan Hames MP writes… Help shape Party policy in two new working groups

The Federal Policy Committee is advertising for members for two new policy working groups: Reform of Public Services, and Tackling Crime and Reform of the Criminal Justice system.

The Public Services group will look at overarching issues relevant to all public services, including themes like decentralisation and user empowerment, and also address specific policy issues in major services like education and health.

The other group will look at all aspects of preventing and reducing crime and the fear of crime, through the whole range of policy interventions.

Both groups are expected to produce policy papers for the Autumn 2014 party …

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Mike Crockart MP writes… Reducing reoffending and cutting crime

Wormwood Scrubs prison - Some rights reserved by TheGoogly3 years ago Liberal Democrats entered into the Coalition to put our nation’s economy back on track; building a fairer society and a stronger economy. But it wasn’t just about doing things in the national interest, we also went into Government to put Liberal Democrat policies into action.

At conference last year I moved a motion on reoffending so I am pleased that today Nick Clegg has set out many of the ideas passed by conference to rebuild our criminal justice system. Our …

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Huhne / Pryce: I just don’t see how ‘prison works’ for anyone here

His crime was speeding then lying (and lying some more). Her crime was lying and self-immolating revenge. Last night they spent their first night in prison.

Few people will spare much sympathy for either Chris Huhne or Vicky Pryce. They are, as Mr Justice Sweeney said yesterday when sentencing the pair to eight months each, the architects of their own downfall. Though I also think it would take a particularly stony heart not to look at the ashen-faced photos of them, besieged by a mob-handed press as their humiliation is played out in real-time in the full glare of publicity, and …

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… Confronting violence against women

Since the General Election, crime across England and Wales has fallen by 10%. It is now at its lowest level since the official crime survey began over thirty years ago. This is important news, and as Minister for Crime Prevention, it is my job to scrutinise these trends and to help them continue.

But amidst this positive news we must not lose sight of those statistics and stories which show we have a long way still to go. Violence against women and girls is one of those areas.

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Opinion: Hug a Hoodie or Mug a Hoodie? What would Borgen do?

It’s really rather a good feeling being a Danish Brit nowadays. Repeated requests for jumper-knitting instructions are admittedly a drawback, but one I can live with. More interesting are daily questions about policy matters as practised Borgen style. (For those who’ve been living under a stone for the past several months, “Borgen” is short for Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament building as well as the title of the appointment-to-view Danish version of the West Wing).

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Opinion: The Tories: tough on Europe, soft on crime

The news that Sussex teacher Jeremy Forrest has been arrested in Bordeaux on suspicion of abducting pupil Megan Stammers is a timely reminder of the value of EU cooperation to fight crime. The maths teacher, who now faces imminent extradition, joins a long list of suspects caught with a European arrest warrant and swiftly returned to face justice in the UK. But the Conservatives’ dogmatic opposition to all things European is now putting the safety of Britons at risk.

The European arrest warrant, in operation since 2004, has succeeded in cutting average extradition times in the EU from one

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Nick Clegg warns against arming the Police after Manchester shootings

In the wake of the  murders of police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester yesterday, the issue of whether police should be armed is being raised by journalists.

The Scotsman reports Nick Clegg’s comments when asked about this today. He was quick to say that arming Police Officers was not the answer.

I don’t think this is the time to rush to instant judgments, this really is a time for mourning and support, of course, for the family and friends of the two women who have been killed.

We have a long tradition in this country, which is a great

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Coming up in the Lords: 21- 30 May

Welcome back to a suddenly rather quieter set of benches, as the avalanche of key votes has settled, and a new Parliamentary session glides effortlessly away from the Gracious Speech. We’re still catching up after the recess, so bear with us…

Having debated the Speech itself, and given the Government several pieces of its mind over Lords Reform, the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill has its Second Reading today. For more information, check out Norman Lamb’s piece, published in Liberal Democrat Voice last week.

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Paddick: some Met detectives adopt a “she wants it really” attitude to women alleging rape

The Lib Dems’ London mayoral candidate Brian Paddick is interviewed in today’s Guardian, and has some strong words for his former employers, the Metropolitan police:

Paddick warns that some detectives adopt a “she wants it really” attitude to women alleging rape and sometimes refuse to acknowledge that some types of men, such as licensed cab drivers, can be rapists.

The former deputy assistant commissioner is placing the Met’s mixed performance on dealing with rape at the heart of his campaign as the Liberal Democrat candidate in May’s London mayoral election. Paddick, who told the Leveson inquiry this week that he toned

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Opinion: Crime, transport and the battle for London Mayor

Just six months ago today London was emerging from its third night of rioting, with a semblance of order only just beginning to take hold as a massive police presence descended on the city. The fear in the streets was palpable. We had been given a brief and terrifying glimpse of what sheer anarchy looked like, the rage and shameless opportunism of London’s marginalised youth provoking deep existential questions about what was wrong with our society.

Yet, as the contest for London Mayor begins to build up momentum, Ken and Boris’ campaigns continue to revolve around the same old topic …

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Lynne Featherstone to propose stalking – in person or online – to be made an offence

Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is in the news for examining proposals to make the specific offence of stalking a criminal offence. The Independent reports:

Stalkers are to face jail under government plans to create a new criminal offence after prosecutors admitted it was hard to bring cases to court.

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, on a visit to Manchester, unveil proposals to introduce a specific offence of stalking, potentially also covering cyber-stalking. A three-month consultation will also look at the use of restraining orders and police attitudes to stalking cases, following concern that the treatment

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Opinion: Cutting Crime in Scotland’s Festival City

Close partnership working and information sharing between agencies at a local level has contributed strongly to reductions in crime and anti social behaviour in Lib Dem led Edinburgh.

Scotland Capital, with its strong night time economy and festivals, has enjoyed reduced crime and antisocial behaviour in recent years. New shift patterns, leading to more officers being deployed where they are needed and when they are needed, have contributed to the reduction in crime. Co-located police officers, joint patrols with environmental wardens and information sharing between statutory agencies have also helped. Much of the improvement is also down to an …

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Crime down again…and still we’re unclear why

Crime was down again in the year to September 2010.

Recorded crime shows falls across the board, with the exception of sexual offences which are up slightly.   As ever, changes in recorded crime can be affected by changes in definitions, by the way the police do the recording or by the willingness of victims to come forward, but there are no major shift in any of those which would lead us to think it isn’t a real change.  (In some previous years there have been quite significant changes, some of which have made crime look higher than it really was).


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Opinion: good and bad reasons for backing Ken

Ken Clarke is coming under pressure from the Red Tops about his plans for sentence reform. According to Conservative Home, even David Cameron is getting cold feet. But Liberal Democrats, it is assumed, are bound to be backing Ken.

This might be thought a given as Liberals are, from the point of view of the media, supposed to have a benign, Panglossian view of human nature which unkind souls might call unrealistic or wet.

Wrong on both counts!

I have long thought the only good moral reason for punishing someone is that they deserve it and that the state is …

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Opinion: which is the biggest disgrace – the marriages or the sentence?

St Leonards on Sea has had its share of the national news recently – Banksy has been to visit and has left his moniker on our seafront; and in the last few days we have had a local vicar sentenced to four years in prison for his part in a sham weddings scam which has broken immigration law and also, it seems, a Marriage Act from the 1940s.

In case you missed it, the Independent has covered the case of Revd Alex Brown in detail. It transpires that no-one has been able to identify the motive of this errant …

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Tackling anti-social behaviour by training the public

That’s the intriguing proposition in a pamphlet by Ben Rogers, published this week by the RSA. He starts with the case of first aid – point out how the widespread training of the public in first aid has helped supplement the core health services provided by the state – and then goes on to suggest a similar approach to anti-social behaviour:

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David Howarth writes … Now is the time to reform our penal policy

Last month the Howard League for Penal Reform launched its Take Action 2010 campaign, with the general election in its sights. The campaign reflects a growing consensus among experts and campaign groups that penal policy has reached a crisis point.

The Howard League’s campaign covers four policy areas – investment in the community not prison, ending short prison terms, justice for children, and creating a scheme of real work inside existing prisons. All four of these themes echo Liberal Democrat thinking and I very much welcome the campaign.

Billions of pounds are spent on maintaining our prisons and …

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LibLink: Chris Huhne – Tough on crime? Jail’s not the answer

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website, Lib Dem shadow home secretary Chris Huhne argues tht locking up more people is a populist ploy that doesn’t cut crime. Instead, he says, we should focus on rigorous community sentences instead. Here’s an excerpt:

It should be a given that important matters of public policy are based on evidence and research, rather than political whim. Why, then, is the field of criminal justice uniquely and scandalously divorced from this obvious rule? … Both continue to try to frighten the public into the arms of their party. It is this politics of

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Many women still unsympathetic about rape

A survey of a thousand men and women in London reveals that most women asked believe that the victim of rape is sometimes at least partly to blame.

Almost three-quarters of women said if a rape victim got into bed with the assailant before an attack they should accept some responsibility.

One-third blamed victims who had dressed provocatively or gone back to the attacker’s house for a drink.

More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack.

These figures are nothing new. A 2005 survey found …

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Watchdog says Shadow Home Secretary ‘likely to damage’ trust in statistics

Yesterday I wrote about Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling’s extraordinarily twisted use of statistics to try to justify part of the Conservatives’ ‘Broken Britain’ narrative.

Today the BBC’s Mark Easton, who broke the original story, has the news that Chris Grayling has just been sent a sharp letter from Parliament’s statistics watchdog, informing him that his mis-use of statistics about violent crime is ‘likely to damage public trust in official statistics’. The Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Sir Michael Scholar, says he does ‘not wish to become involved in political controversy’,  but ‘must take issue’ with Grayling’s comments ‘yesterday about violent crime statistics’.

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Conservatives’ use of crime statistics ‘selective and mendacious’

This morning’s Today programme provided another of those ‘mustn’t miss’ moments, as presenter Evan Davis  took the Conservatives’ Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling to task over the party’s misleading use of crime statistics.

Last week Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Affairs editor, had asked ‘Are the Tories being honest with their claims on violent crime’:

Last week, David Cameron told me that one reason he could justify the phrase “broken society” was because of “significant” increases in violent crime, notably gun and knife crime in Britain.  When I challenged him to produce the evidence, his party press office sent the BBC a list of statistics. It emerges that the only way the Conservative leader can back up his claims is to ignore the klaxon warning attached to the statistics following changes in the way police record violent incidents in England and Wales.

Tory Central Office e-mailed this claim to me: ‘Violent crime has increased from 615,985 offences in 1998-9 to 1,034,972 in 2008-9, an increase of 68 per cent’. The document cited, however, includes this massive caveat: ‘The National Crime Recording standard was introduced in April 2002. Figures before and after that date are not directly comparable’. And yet, that is exactly what Mr Cameron appears to do.

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Tackling crime: talking to and involving the public works

The Home Office has recently published a review of the research into how to improve public confidence in the police. One of their conclusions? The very community politics idea, expressed in very New Labour vocabulary, that

The strategies most likely to be effective in improving confidence are initiatives aimed at increasing community engagement. Three out of the four interventions classified in the ‘what works’ evidence all included an element of communicating and engaging with the community (embedding neighbourhood policing; high quality community engagement; and using local-level communications/newsletters).

In other words: talk to people, listen to them and involve them. That is …

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High on drugs, yet soft on drivers?

Just before Christmas, the Government published two media releases on the subject of crime and sentencing. The first concerned making several ‘legal highs’ illegal; the second announced a review of the maximum sentences for dangerous driving.

What grabbed my attention was the current similarity of sentences for very different crimes. Currently the maximum sentence for dangerous driving is just two years – the same as for possession of amphetamines and less than half the maximum sentence for possession of cannabis or the previously legal high known as ‘spice’. So in the government’s mind, having a small spliff in your pocket is more than twice as bad as putting a child in a wheelchair by knowingly driving a car with defective brakes or by driving on the wrong side of the road at speed.

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Opinion: Youth justice – a golden opportunity for the Lib Dems

Youth justice has risen, zombie-like, from the place unloved political issues go to die. In July, the Government published an interim report on The Youth Crime Action Plan, its “comprehensive, cross-government analysis of what the government is going to do to tackle youth crime.”

This prompted vigorous activity from the think-tanks and NGOs, and a predictable silence from the dead who may live again, aka the Conservative Party.

Last week, the Liberal Democrats published data showing that the number of 10 to 12 year olds convicted of a criminal offence rose by 87.2% between 1997 and 2007. Nick Clegg, remarking on the figures, argued that:

It is a disgrace the Government spends eleven times more locking up our young people than it does on backing projects to stop them getting involved in crime in the first place.”

Unless you happen to be keen on nineteenth century penal philosophy, Nick’s comment seems to make excellent sense. I would suggest, however, that it is, at best, carelessly imprecise. At worst, it indicates a refusal to challenge the prevailing conservative narrative on youth crime. Given recent reporting of events in Doncaster, a measured rebuttal is more critical than ever.

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If used properly and proportionately, CCTV can be a vital deterrent to criminals

I did intend to write a less controversial article after my previous contribution attracted far more attention and comments than I expected it to. Knowing that what I’m writing about now falls onto a similar strand of sensitivity, I expect I’ll fail miserably.

When I arrived at Surrey in 2002 to study, we were told it was the safest county in the country. Indeed, this was one of the attractions of studying there, as well as the very beautiful and leafy campus in one of the most unspoilt but bustling southern towns in the country. However, …

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Labour teaches kids the new 3 Rs: Remand, Raw, and Recession

Three stories today – see if you can spot the blatant connection.

First up, the first R: Remand. Lib Dem research today revealed that over a million kids have been convicted of a criminal offence over the last decade, with a further million cautioned since Labour came to power in 1997. Here’s the breakdown of figures as revealed in an answer to a Lib Dem parliamentary question:

* 1,033,454 children aged between 10 and 17 have been convicted of a criminal offence since 1997. This includes almost 30,000 10 to 12 year olds.

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[email protected]… Nick Clegg and Merlene Emerson write for Operation Black Vote blog

Over at the new Operation Black Vote (OBV) blog, two Lib Dems – Nick Clegg and Merlene Emerson – have published articles, excerpts below…

Believing in our children, not criminalising them
(Nick Clegg)

Nick argues that dealing with crime needs a completely new approach to the counter-productive policies of New Labour:

In these difficult times, the prospect of rising youth offending is a serious one. But fear mustn’t now give credence to the New Labour way, which is to bang up our children the moment they divert from the straight and narrow. Britain now has 3,000 children in prison – more than

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[email protected]: Chris Huhne – Scalpel-sharp intelligence is needed to slash knife crime

Over at The Times, Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne notes that a cosmetic surgeon helped to cut knife violence by 40 per cent in Cardiff, and asks: why isn’t his no-brainer idea being copied across Britain? Here’s an excerpt:

Nearly 50,000 people have been treated in hospital for knifings since the Government came to power. The toll of knife crime has rightly gripped the media, since there can be few more horrifying thoughts for any parent than to think of their child being attacked by knife- wielding thugs. …

Effective action is about stop-and- search, particularly working from intelligence.

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