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No tough talk on crime, just action

November 15, 2019 7:11 AM

Knife crimePeople should feel safe in their homes and on their streets. But this is not how it is for too many people today: knife crime has increased by over 75 per cent since 2015; homicides are at their highest rate for a decade; robberies and thefts are increasing and almost all go unsolved; and there are more and more places in the country where people simply don't see police officers.

For 25 years, Conservative and Labour Governments have been competing to seem tough on crime, without doing enough to actually prevent it. The Conservatives, having unnecessarily cut police funding in England and Wales, are now trying to seem tough on crime without actually doing what is needed to prevent it.

The Liberal Democrats have set out ambitious plans to tackle soaring levels of knife crime, and we will do this by investing £500 million in youth services and adopting a public health approach to youth violence. This would provide young people with positive, safe and healthy opportunities to prevent them being drawn into youth violence and gang-related crime. We would also make local youth services a statutory service, protecting them from future cuts.

We would take a public health approach to tackling youth violence, modelled on the successful approach taken by Scotland's Violence Reduction Unit. This would involve identifying risk factors and treating them early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.

We understand that the situation needs more than tough talk: our plan means more police, properly supported by the government and focused on the community policing that prevents crime and makes people feel safe while investing in the services that will help people build lives free from crime. We will:

  • Invest £1 billion to restore community policing, enough for two new police officers in every ward.
  • Invest in youth services. We will provide a £500m ringfenced youth services fund to local authorities to repair the damage done to youth services and enable them to deliver a wider range of services, reach more young people and improve training for youth workers.
  • Introduce a target of one hour for handover of people suffering from mental health crisis from police to mental health services and support the police to achieve adequate levels of training in mental health response.
  • Fully fund an immediate two per cent pay-rise for police officers to support recruitment and retention, and future pay rises in line with recommendations from the independent Police Remuneration Review Body.
  • Create a new Online Crime Agency to effectively tackle illegal content and activity online, such as personal fraud, revenge porn and threats and incitement to violence on social media.
  • Stop Brexit and maintain the European crime-fighting tools that keep us all safe, including: Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and direct access to shared police databases.