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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 December 2006, 14:37 GMT
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On the Politics Show, Sunday 26 November 2006, Jon Sopel interviewed Lord Drayson, Defence Minister.

David Davis
I think it's very important that no channel is left un-pursued that this investigation goes right to its limit where ever it may be and that limit should not be a diplomatic limit, it should be the limit of the evidence
David Davis

Speaking on the Politics Show Shadow Home Secretary demanded a tough line on the investigation into the death Alexander Litvinenko, an opponent of Russia's President Putin. David Davis said:

"One of the reasons we raised the issue last week was and that has come up in the papers today, the Prime Minister saying, well the most important thing here is to maintain our relationship with the Russian state.

"I don't think that is the most important thing. The most important thing is to make clear it's not acceptable to people to be killed in or on the streets of London."

He welcomed the fact that anti-terrorism police are reported to be on their way to Moscow to pursue their investigations:

"I think it's a good thing. I think it's very important that no channel is left un-pursued that this investigation goes right to its limit where ever it may be and that limit should not be a diplomatic limit, it should be the limit of the evidence."


JON SOPEL: David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary joins us now, welcome to the Politics Show.

DAVID DAVIS: Afternoon.

JON SOPEL: It's fine as far as it goes, this idea of designing for safety, but is it a radical new idea, isn't it something that everyone is going to say, yeah, of course.

DAVID DAVIS: It's not new. I mean, it's actually thirty years old. What's wrong is that it hasn't actually been taken up with the sort of determination and drive that's necessary. What, if you look to some of the Bradford examples, and the predecessor to the policeman who was on there took me down and street and he said, well on one side of the street you've got sixteen or seventeen times the level of burglary, than you have on the other side of the street, and none of it is down to social factors. It's all down to design.

It makes that big a difference, so for certain types of crime and the lady, the sociologist, who was talking, was right, we can't deal with domestic violence this way but for certain types of crime, burglary, mugging, robbery, some street violence, you can actually do a huge amount, just take away the opportunity completely and actually give people safety on their own streets and safety in their own home which is the key.

JON SOPEL: So are we putting money in to the wrong things then. I mean are we putting, is it a mistake to put money in to extra police officers. Should we be putting money in to more fences and all that...

DAVID DAVIS: Well the fences is the sort of patch work after the event. The best way to do this is when you start. I mean people actually, interestingly enough, people recognised thirty years ago, there was a man called Oscar Newman, an American Architect, recognised some thirty years ago, a lot of the post war estates were designed very badly with alleyways, covered walkways, garages or parking areas out of sight, so people could vandalise cars and so on.

All these things were done very badly from the start. If you actually get it right from the beginning you make a huge difference and that's the point. I mean this is, if you like it's a thoughtful approach to crime, it's not macho, I grant that, and I give Mr, the Minister his due there, it's not a macho approach; it's thoughtful, it's about stopping it before it starts.

JON SOPEL: What about this other thing, the number plate recognition technology that they're using in Bradford. I was looking at a quote of yours in Hansard, you seemed death against that.

DAVID DAVIS: No, no. I'm not dead against it. What I'm saying, with all these things is you've got to use it carefully so it actually stops the criminal and doesn't just impinge on the rights of the individual and very often remember, with this government, technology is held up as a great white hope and ends up as a disaster, whether it's a data base or a passport system or whatever it may be, we've got to make sure it's used properly, doesn't unnecessarily impinge on human rights, give people their own rights, but actually it can...(overlaps)

JON SOPEL: (interjects) But doesn't that leave people to say, well what is the Conservative message on law and order. So, they want to be tough, but at the same time they don't want to use some of this technology. They don't want to use ID cards, they don't support ninety day detention. I mean that's the trust of the attack, not only from Gerry Sutcliffe, but the pollsters are finding it too.

DAVID DAVIS: From John Reid and indeed before him, from Charles Clarke and before him from David Blunkett, it's always this, try to be - out-tough you on these things. Well, in truth, take ninety days to pick one, the most controversial of all I guess and where the government thinks it's got the very position - well if actually lock someone up for ninety days, without trial, detention without trial for ninety days and you get it wrong, you've just created a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, you've created a martyr to a cause that you're trying to defeat and that mistake is a mistake that many governments have made down the decades and it's actually helped the... We made it in a way with internment in Northern Ireland, we actually helped the IRA by locking up the wrong people for too long.

JON SOPEL: Okay, let's turn to the hug a hoodie debate and I know that David Cameron never actually used that phrase but that was the way it was characterised. Don't you accept that most of the population, rather than hug, embrace these people, showed them more love, would like to see them being given an asbo.

DAVID DAVIS: Well the irony is that both David and I are trying to deliver on a Blairite promise, remember tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Well he's talking about the causes of crime, he was talking about the need to think about how young people become criminals, and after all, most criminals, most of the people in our prisons are young men, between about eighteen and twenty five, who've got no reading skills very many of them, no job skills, very often hooked on crack cocaine, something like that. Now unless you do something about those people, both before they go to prison or when they're in prison and when they come out, you're going to end up with a permanent population of criminals and you can't have that.

JON SOPEL: You used that phrase from Tony Blair, tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Isn't there a perception that you, David Davis, are tough on crime whereas Mr Cameron is tough on the causes of crime.

DAVID DAVIS: Well I hope we're both, both. I mean we talk about all these things on almost a daily basis, certainly more than once a week and they're both important.

I mean I, I'm very keen that we do something - we start to think about the issues that affect things like family breakdown, which got worse under this government. Things that affect school discipline, which got worse under this government, the whole school truancy gone up by a quarter since this government has been in power.

And those are things which are contributors to the causes of crime and they're things you have to do something about and we both agree that.

JON SOPEL: Would you have given the hug a hoodie speech. Would you have phrased it in that way.

DAVID DAVIS: Well he didn't say hug a hoodie.

JON SOPEL: Okay what about, okay...


DAVID DAVIS:... because I re-phrased it as harder and longer of course.

JON SOPEL: Yeah exactly, you would hug them harder and longer, exactly. But I mean I just wonder whether you do accept that it gives a perception, a perception that there are these mixed messages coming out. When you look at some of the Sunday papers today, reflecting on David Cameron's first year as party leader. Yes, some very good things there, but also saying, well we just don't know where the Tory party stands.

DAVID DAVIS: No. Let me tell you something, let me tell you about a conversation David and I had two or three weeks after - nearly a year, about fifty weeks ago and I said, look, what we've got to do with the Home Affairs brief as it were is address it with thoughtful Conservatism.

That was the phrase I used. I know it stuck in his mind because he repeated it back to me and the point about this is of course there is a very large role for the State to be tough on criminals, because criminals after all make a decision which inflicts pain on everybody else in society. But there is also a need for us to make sure that we do what's necessary to choke off crime at the source.

You cannot defeat crime simply with prison, it's one mechanism, one weapon, you've got to use others. And actually, you know, I could have, more importantly where I could have repeated one of David's comments, I could have repeated Tony Blair's comment, actually tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, is in my judgement actually quite a Conservative slogan and it's one we should actually aim to meet and deliver on.

JON SOPEL: Well let's talk about another area where maybe Mr Cameron has raised expectations and that is on overhaul of the police. Cameron was saying in January there should be reform of police pay and pensions, making it easier for Chief Constables to sack under performing officers and introduce measures to reduce the number of police officers who have second jobs. I haven't heard another word about that since.

DAVID DAVIS: Well you've heard, you may have heard if you'd listened, if you talked to AGPO, the chief police officers organisation later on. Me saying to them, look, you, the chief police officers, have to come up with an answer to why we've had a sharp decline in the detection rates, the number of crimes that are cleared up if you like. The number of criminals that go to jail as a result of that. The so called justice gap. The number of crime committed for which nobody is - now that is...


JON SOPEL: That's not the same as saying sacking bad police officers.

DAVID DAVIS: Well with respect, it's the other half of the same, of the same argument. We've got to make our police more effective. At the moment, even the police forces themselves recognise they are not affective enough. Detection rate is going down, particularly on violent crime. We've got to do something to improve that. Now that can range from getting more effective individual police officers to using them properly and get them out on the beat, actually catching criminals rather than filling in forms.

JON SOPEL: Do you believe then that the police at the moment is badly run, it's over bureaucratic, that they need to root out bad police officers that they shouldn't be doing these second jobs because that is a very confrontational approach the government has tried to take on the police force, retired hurt, I just wonder whether that's part of the David Davis agenda.

DAVID DAVIS: Well the first thing about it. I mean I get a lot of emails. I mean measured in dozens, not hundreds, from serving police officers who say to me things like, twenty years ago I signed up to catch criminals and protect the public, the way the job is run now, I'm not able to do that, and I'm retiring early. I mean I had that a number of time and the simple truth is that the over-targeted, over-centralised, over-bureaurocritised, too much form filling, too much red tape, too much spare time spent in the station not on the streets, all these things, actually are as irritating to police officers as they to the public.

JON SOPEL: I just want to ask you about Alexander Litvinenko and the investigation going on there. We've reported in the news that the BBC understands that nine counter-terrorism command officers are due to go to Moscow tomorrow, day after, some time - what's your reaction to that.

DAVID DAVIS: Well I'm pleased about that. I mean one of the reasons we raised the issue last week was and that has come up in the papers today, the Prime Minister saying, well the most important thing here is to maintain our relationship with the Russian state. I don't think that is the most important thing.

The most important thing is to make clear it's not acceptable to people to be killed in or on the streets of London and I'm very pleased, twice the Home Secretary has responded to my question, are you - you're not going to allow diplomatic issues to get in the way of this investigation, twice he's said no in the House of Commons and what this indicates is he's being true to his word.

JON SOPEL: So, the police going, that's the right thing to be doing.

DAVID DAVIS: I think it's a good thing. I think it's very important that no channel is left un-pursued that this investigation goes right to its limit where ever it may be and that limit should not be a diplomatic limit, it should be the limit of the evidence.

JON SOPEL: David Davis, thank you very much.

DAVID DAVIS: Thank you.


Please note BBC Politics Show must be credited if any part of these transcripts are used.

NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for their accuracy.

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The Politics Show Sunday 03 December 2006 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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