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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Blair targets 'career criminals'
Prisoner in cell
The review aims to cut re-offending by offering more rehabilitation
Repeat offenders' activities will be restricted after they leave prison, under plans for the criminal justice system outlined by the prime minister.

Tony Blair's policy review outlines plans to tackle the 100,000 "hard core" of people who commit 50% of all crimes.

It also backs extending powers to seize assets to include lifestyle items such as jewellery, and creating special units for mentally ill prisoners.

But the Lib Dems and Tories accuse the government of failing on crime policy.

'Addition to prison'

Unveiling his latest policy review, Mr Blair said: "If we want a criminal justice system that works, we have to target the offender and not simply the offence."

He outlined plans for prolific offender licences to restrict the activities of "career criminals" once they got out of jail.

These could include stopping them mixing with former associates, going to certain areas or requiring they get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. The penalty for breaking these would be up to three years in prison.

CRIME POLICY REVIEW
Repeat offenders' freedoms curbed outside jail
New powers to seize non-cash assets like TVs and cars
Units for mentally ill prisoners
Tougher community sentences
More drug rehabilitation in jails
Firms encouraged to make their products "crime proof"
Introduction of "crowd scanners" able to detect bombs
More use of face-recognition CCTV
Mobile fingerprint readers for police
Use "virtual courts" where defendants have hearing via "live link" from police station
Publish court performance data
More use of DNA, CCTV and crime databases
Foreign nationals who are in UK temporarily will be asked to take out health insurance

"They are not an alternative to prison. They are in addition to prison," Mr Blair said.

"But we have to ensure that, when people leave prison, they do not rebound straight back in."

And the government says that it plans to extend police asset recovery powers so they can seize and forfeit criminals' "lifestyle" goods, like cars.

These could also be extended to jewellery, plasma TVs and lap tops - although the review notes the possibility of a human rights challenge.

The Home Office says currently police can seize cash or "cash equivalents" - like travellers cheques, but can only freeze, not recover, other assets.

Mr Blair also unveiled a wide range of other measures, from more use of the DNA and identity databases, to using new generations of CCTV cameras with automatic facial recognition technology.

Children could also face checks to discover if they are at risk of turning into criminals, at important stages in their development - such as the move to secondary school.

There will also be a review of the police service, led by the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, to cut red tape, make the police more accessible and give them more say over their budgets.

HAVE YOUR SAY
I'd like justice to take precedence over "human rights" with career and serious criminals receiving long, punitive sentences.
Martin, Salisbury

Other measures include tougher community sentences and special units for mentally ill prisoners, where drug treatment would be available.

In January, Mr Blair conceded Britain's jails were "full to bursting point", during a row over sentencing.

But the government said more prison places were being built and the most dangerous criminals had to be held for as long as they posed a danger.

Paul Cavadino, of crime reduction charity Nacro, said: "Improved help for drug dependent and mentally disturbed offenders will do far more to cut crime than harsh sentencing."

But Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London, said there was a "lack of fresh and genuinely original thinking" and too much emphasis was on "criminal justice solutions"

Shadow home secretary David Davis said some proposals - such as those on child checks - were an example of the "nanny state gone mad".

"We would have great and grave concerns about any extension of the DNA database," he said.

"This currently has no statutory basis and, sinisterly, the government refuses to even have a debate about how it should operate."

He said the document was a "swansong to try and secure some sort of legacy for Tony Blair" and an admission of failure on law and order.

And Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "After a decade of ineffective tough talk and posturing on crime, Tony Blair seems to have given up on gimmicks and adopted liberal policies that may actually work.

"Abandoning everything he stood for on law and order isn't much of a personal legacy, but fortunately for the public, it may actually cut crime."

But he said Labour had to commit to implementing the ideas once Mr Blair had resigned from office - which he is expected to do within months.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
CCTV footage of criminal activity



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