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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 August, 2003, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Is crime being tackled properly?
Courtroom exhibit drawing of a gun
Robberies and muggings have dropped but the government's Street Crime initiative remains a "missed opportunity" says a study.

Described as "groundbreaking, speedy and robust" by the Chief Inspector, the scheme clearly succeeded in 10 crime hotspots where street crime has notably fallen.

But drug treatment for addicted offenders was not part of the drive, and fast-track prosecutions were a second area of under-achievement - though Merseyside had one offender jailed for five years within two days of arrest.

Are there other things you think are missing from the drive to crack down on crime? Will improving drug addiction services make a radical difference to crime figures?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

The more people isolate themselves, travelling from home to office alone in their cars, the more disconnected individuals become from society. There is nobody to check the behaviour of youths on the streets because there are few adults walking around our communities. And the truth is, many people don't care that much. They would be happy to pull up the drawbridge and to hell with the community. Those who do care are fighting an uphill battle against perceptions which are often worse than the reality, and apathy brought on by exhaustion from working long hours. Of course, to accept this would mean accepting responsibility for our own actions. Much better to blame the nebulous "them" - the police, the Government, schools, children, other people, television.
Guy Chapman, UK

The biggest change needed to cut crime is people's attitude to their community - think of how many hours you spend watching the telly and then compare that to how many you spend working with your community - we need to change our attitude of 'I pay my taxes so it is up to the government to sort out the problems' - your time helping people around you is far more valuable and plus you can see the benefits.
Scott, UK

If I hear one more person say that the police are useless I think I'll go crazy. People are very quick to criticise those people who have the guts to enter a career that is dangerous, stressful and very thankless. Then once they are done criticising do nothing to help the problems in society. It's very easy to sit on a comfortable chair and point fingers isn't it? I am just going through the police recruitment myself and one of the things I am most worried about is the frustration cased be being unable to do my job properly due to failings in the law itself. Give police the power they need to deal with the problems today and maybe things might get a little better.
Andy Duffin, UK

We live in a vacuous materialistic culture
Racheal, UK
The problem is our low quality society. We live in a vacuous materialistic culture. Every day we are smothered by images which insist we can only be happy if we have lots of products. Cars, clothes, phones, holidays, computers, entertainment, etc. These products have billion-dollar marketing budgets. Kindness doesn't have a marketing budget. Neither does social responsibility. We brainwash our kids to believe that expensive products are more essential than anything else, then we are surprised when they snatch and don't say thank-you.
Racheal, UK

When a Welsh police force will proudly boast that 1200 speeding motorists have been convicted, whilst simultaneously failing to solve 94% of burglaries, something is desperately wrong. The police should stop picking on easy targets to bump up their conviction rates, as this is seriously undermining public confidence.
Paul, UK

Britain has more people in prison per head of population than other European countries with higher crime rates. Perhaps we should look at what those countries are doing - particularly when it comes to drug related crimes - rather than keep on doing what we do now. Calls for longer, harsher punishments and other draconian measures are understandable and seem logical, but they don't work.
Richard Gregory, UK

Sometimes they cannot be investigated for several hours
Leonard, England
I work in a very busy borough where there is a firearms-related call at least every other day as well as robberies at knifepoint, arson, domestic violence and serious assaults. Officers on my own team have been shot at, physically assaulted and are regularly subjected to verbal abuse. Crimes which are not emergencies obviously cannot take precedence over ones where someone is at risk which means that sometimes they cannot be investigated for several hours if there are more serious crimes being dealt with. I challenge anyone on this page who truly believes their own criticisms of the police to have the courage to apply for the job and see for themselves what a difficult, thankless one it really is.
Leonard, England

NZ has recently appointed 70 officers from the UK, here in Auckland. They have moved here for a better life. These officers will defiantly not be arresting British criminals.
James Wilsey, New Zealand

I don't know how it works in Britain but the most effective crime stopping mechanism here has been the people here in the small town of Port Orchard. Everyone knows each other, so if someone steals something from you, you walk down to their place and take it back. Strong communities as well as lack of anonymity, will stop crime better than a hundred bobbies walking the beat.
Frederick Steiner, USA

While we maintain an exclusive society we will have these problems
Robert, Luxembourg
We cannot expect the police to clear up all of the problems which we as a society get wrong. In the UK there is clearly a wide underclass of people excluded from mainstream society either through poverty, drugs or the cycle of social deprivation repeating itself. While we maintain an exclusive society we will have these problems. This is particularly bad in the UK but don't blame the police, we should blame ourselves.
Robert, Luxembourg

There's just too much to say about this topic, so I'll make it brief. I'm a South African, living in the UK for the past 3 years. We left South Africa due to the crime. Violent crime there began with breaking into cars and petty theft. Today a gunshot wound is the most common casualty reported in the A&E wards. It starts small. The government needs to tackle this problem now, and with a seriously heavy hand, so that thugs and first-time 'youth' offenders get the message and stop running the UK into the ground.
Martin, UK

I am sick of social deprivation being used as an excuse to justify crime. It's insulting. My parents were hard up and living on a council estate when my sister and I grew up, but you don't see us out mugging, stealing and vandalising. The problems in my area are 99% youth related. They are down mostly to one thing, and that's poor parenting. The law alone can't provide deterrents to crime if the parents don't care.
Dan, UK

Home Office statistics show that two thirds of all property crime is now drug related. Drug prohibition has been in force for the last 50 years. Why can't we see the obvious connections between that prohibition and crime? A fundamental shift in policy is required: treat the drug problem as a public health issue, not a criminal one. Then work to break the vicious circles that prohibition produces.
Jonathan Baker-Bates, Britain

At present people in England's cities live in fear of criminals. And the police seem to be turning a blind eye to most of the problems. In Birmingham where I lived there was obvious drug dealing, prostitution, and vandalism for all to see. And I never saw one arrest. I moved my family from there because of the crime and police inaction.
Luke Walter, England (Currently USA)

Passing a blind eye to the drug culture in prisons is cowardly and short sighted
Kevin, UK
Clearly a range of measures is needed. More drug rehabilitation centres would be a good start but beyond that serious money needs to be spent on doubling the number of prisons. The simple fact is that if you lock up career criminals then they can't commit crimes. Also once in prison they should be deprived of drugs. Everyone (including the guards) should have to pass by sniffer dogs before they can enter a prison. The authorities no doubt fear riots but passing a blind eye to the drug culture in prisons is cowardly and short sighted.
Kevin, UK

As a complete outsider I find it interesting to contrast two recent stories from this site. A woman was just convicted of trying to kill her daughter by poisoning her with salt, leaving the child brain damaged, and for that woman was sentenced to 4 years in prison. A man was convicted of kicking a horse at a football match, which frightened the horse, and for that the man was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Apparently in the UK frightening a horse is a more serious offence than almost killing a child. I'd say your judicial system is every bit as screwed-up than ours, or perhaps more so.
Dan Smith, USA

Recently we had a case of arson outside our house. The fire brigade were great, sorted it within 30 minutes. We didn't see the police that night but apparently they called about 11:45PM the next night presumably to claim they responded within 24 hours? I left a message on their answer phone as a neighbour up the street saw someone acting suspicious but they haven't even returned the call or visited us. I suspect as no one was killed it doesn't matter? I feel that it is this tolerance of crime that is constantly lowering the standards of behaviour across the entire country.
Phil W, Herts, UK

About 3% of true crime ever results in a conviction. One of the many things holding this figure down is the politically resonant but totally misguided pressure to 'get more bobbies on the beat' - as the superintendent said, the 5% of officers this represents is too small to exert a deterrent effect other than in hotspots e.g. late Friday nights outside clubs etc. The way ahead leaves with genuinely preventative schemes of social amelioration and police partnership with community groups, probation services and magistrates.
Jackie, England

I'm 35 years old and still feel "scared" of a copper walking down the street
Neil Thorpe, England
I'm 35 years old and still feel "scared" of a copper walking down the street. I was brought up to respect policeman and still do, however because of the "do gooders" that have taken over our society it seems that the police force's hands are tied. I remember getting a right ticking off from a policeman for scrumping, and it scared me for life and it seems that nowadays youngsters don't care for the rights of others as they know they will get away with it. Bring back the bobby on the beat and let's scare the living daylights out of the youngsters
Neil Thorpe, England

I am an British man of Indian descent and live in Farnham, the lowest crime town in all of England, but my wife and I would not venture into the town on a Friday or Saturday night. We have done in the past and suffered, amongst other crimes racial abuse, but since being robbed at knife point last December are petrified of the town by night. I grew up in Leicester and moved here to avoid the crime that is rife there. The Police have identified the "known" criminals from a CCTV system but say there is insufficient evidence to prosecute. What is this country coming to?
Arheddis Varkenjaab, UK

We had our car stolen in Dec 2000 in front of CCTV cameras. The police caught the thief by chance. He was convicted sentenced to community service (this was his EIGHTH offence), and ordered to pay us 80 compensation. We had seen nothing of the money and he has committed 4 more offences. He is only 18, which means he will probably carry out more serious crimes in the future. It is about time that the law was brought down hard on even first time offenders. First time means first time caught.
Anon, Scotland

I retired as a Chief Superintendent in 1996, having been a Divisional Commander for some years. By the time I retired I was ashamed of the service we were able to provide. A daily struggle to put out a minimum number of officers, sometimes as few as 8 or 9 from a paper total of more than 200. Where were they all? Attending courses, tied up in court, and dealing with time wasters complaints (every villain now complains as a routine, and boy does it use up police time). We need to get back to good old fashioned policing. It's time for us to return to the criminal being afraid, not the public.
John Lilley, England

I've never felt safer in my entire life
Sara Dawson, UK
I know that everything is relative but I think we really are very lucky in this country. In 1999 I returned to the UK having lived in South Africa for 24 years. Every member of my family, the majority of my work colleagues, and most of my friends had all suffered from the violent crime experienced in that country. Not a day goes past when thousands of people aren't affected by this. There is little law enforcement there and the majority of the police are corrupt too. I know we can't compare the UK to South Africa but a little reality check never did anyone any harm. I know the UK has problems with crime too but quite frankly I've never felt safer in my entire life.
Sara Dawson, UK

The police have turned themselves into bureaucrats rather than officers determined to up-hold the law. I live in Lambeth where from personal experience and those of friends and neighbours the police are very slow to react to crimes when committed, and believe that once they have issued a crime reference number and victim support number their job is done. They will only apply themselves to finding criminals when it is high profile or they have the wind put up them by the media - then quite often they will get a result. But if you are Joe Public and a victim of theft robbery or assault forget it.
Patrick Watson, United Kingdom

My motorbike was stolen from outside my house in Bath while I was out. I reported it to the Police and then spent about 4 hours driving in a friends car around the less desirable parts of the city where joy riding is common trying to see if we could find the bike. In that time we didn't see a single police car. The bike was found the next day and a 15 year old was arrested. He was charged with driving with no insurance or license and for riding without consent. He went to youth court where he was (unsurprisingly) let off. If this is how crime is tackled in Britain in 2003 then we have no hope of making our streets safer.
Matt, England

We need a realism in crime initiative
John Karran, Liverpool
The liberal elitist with their blind dogma have destroyed the justice system. The system now favours the criminal more than the victim. The police force are demoralised knowing that they cannot put a foot wrong without the 'do gooder brigade' coming down on them. We need a realism in crime initiative, strong action is needed and with longer sentences. The crooks have got away with it for far too long. Most of all we all must support the forces of Law and Order.
John Karran, Liverpool, UK

The whole way crime is being tackled is wrong. Crime is a symptom of social decline. Many who commit crime have been failed by the education system, their families, life in general or lastly, by themselves. Being an ex drug-addict myself, I know how it feels when society seems to have given up on you - you eventually give up on yourself and care nothing for the society you blame for leaving you in the mess you find yourself.

Tougher prison sentences and the police are nothing more than a lifestyle hazard for the hardened drug addict (most street crime, robberies & burglaries are committed by addicts) - if we're to tackle crime effectively we need to start to cut out the social rot. Maybe if our culture was a little less self-obsessed we'd look to embrace and support people before their life takes a tragic turn... not condemn them when we've left it too late to reach out to them. These are all things that will REALLY change our society - and our crime rates as a result.
Steven Lauder, England

The worst crime in my opinion comes from motorists
Mel, UK
So much talk about drugs and drugs users here. My partner has been beaten up twice in the last year. A good friend has had her car smashed up and people are killed every day in every city. And not by drug addicts. The worst crime in my opinion comes from motorists. The police won't do anything about it, they think they don't have to abide by the law of the land and that other human life is valueless. I appreciate that not all motorists behave like this but they seem to be in the minority. I cycle in London and am fed up of being hassled, intimidated, driven at, spat at, and having things thrown out of car windows at me. You'd think most men would appreciate seeing a young(ish) slim (ish) blonde in black lycra cycling alongside them but apparently not. This is the worst face of yob culture because these people can and do kill.
Mel, UK

I was mugged recently. The police turned up after quite some time. Records later showed that by the time they responded to my call my cards were already being used around Brixton. I was more than willing to give up my time to look at CCTV images near to where the mugging took place and where the cards were used to try to spot this guy. The police didn't seem to know how to respond to that suggestion - it was like it had never occurred to them.

I was more than willing to go out of my way to catch this guy who had caused me and doubtless many other people an awful trauma. The police just weren't interested. I'm a lawyer and I think I would have made a good witness. I am very sure about what I saw. Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity to demonstrate this. I received three offers of counselling from the police. The best therapy they could have given me would have been to get the coward who did it in the dock.
Claire, England

We work within a huge and diverse community that make different demands on us
Anon, UK
I am a serving police officer in south London. Peckham to be exact. I have been for the past 18 months and I am appalled at some of the comments that I have read. Most police officers are the most hard working people you will find. We deal with situations that the majority of people would run away from. Guns, knives and physical abuse on a daily basis. We also have to deal with events and incidents that are not only life threatening but ones that are harrowing, filthy, contagious. Rotting dead people, giving families messages that their loved ones have died, drug abusers with HIV and Aids who don't care for themselves let alone other people. Ever had a to dodge someone who is trying to stab you with a used needle? I have.

We work within a huge and diverse community that make different demands on us. We must know and respect all the different cultures that we work for. We must have a massive knowledge of not only what the law says but how to practically use that law and interpret it. Unfortunately, the police have to abide by the laws and the criminals do not. Don't blame the police, blame the system we have to work within. Bearing all this in mind, including what many of the BBC website readers think of us, I love my job and I am proud to be a police officer and serving the community in the way I do.
Anon, UK

Criminals should face much tougher punishment - even for so called "minor" crimes. I know jails are filling up but if criminals saw the consequences such as 10 years for first time burglary I believe it would make others think twice before offending. Prisons and young offenders institutes should seem more like punishment with no home comforts or days out to deter cons from re-offending. Minimum sentences should be set by the government with the daft idea of serving half sentences and receiving parole for good behaviour scrapped.
Paul, Wakefield, UK

It seems impossible to keep drugs out of prisons
Peter, UK
Trying to break the addictions of young offenders may help break the cycle of crime they fall into. But prison should already be an ideal time to begin breaking this habit. Unfortunately and to my utter amazement it seems impossible to keep drugs out of prisons. If we cannot stop prisoners from obtaining drugs what hope is there of curing those outside the system?
Peter, UK

The Police are useless. There was a time when you could rely on your local 'bobby' to be a friendly helpful member of the community. In Woking, the police are rude and unhelpful and just seem to provoke drunk people into arguments and then arrest them for their mis-conduct. They take a long time to respond to an emergency and they can't always help anyway. Also, there are more and more reports in the news that the Police are as corrupt and as the criminals themselves.
Rich, UK

Having recently spotted 3 teenagers breaking a car window and stealing a handbag from the front seat, a friend and I managed to chase them down and catch 2 of them, with the handbag - red-handed you might think!

After calling 999 and waiting 10 minutes I was put through to a police station only to be told that I was outside their jurisdiction, and should call another station. When I had duly called this station I was told that as there were no police officers available I should 'suggest that the perpetrators turn themselves in at this station'. Needless to say, I did not insult their intelligence by passing on the message. Is it any wonder that crime is on the up? Next time I will not bother endangering myself, or in fact reporting this sort of crime - it is not worth the cost of the phone call!
Mat, London

I don't think our police forces get a fair crack of the whip
Kevin Robins, UK
I don't think our police forces get a fair crack of the whip. It seems to me that every attempt to bring criminals to justice is hampered by liberal politicians, an out of touch judiciary and an overall system that is benign towards the criminal and unsupportive of the victim. Apart from some constabularies that are fixated on revenue generation via the speeding motorist, I still believe that our police officers do a very good job against the odds.
Kevin Robins, UK

I live near a bail hostel in Cambridge. From what I have seen there, it has to be the best place in Cambridge to buy drugs! The courts are letting us down.
Richard, UK

We need more Police on the beat with more powers. While baseball capped yobs aged around 14-18 are allowed to roam in packs through our town centres and private street we have no protection. These yobs know their rights and abuse them, knowing full well that they will be back by some lily-livered social worker or judge. We have all had an increase in Council Tax and yet have no extra protection for ourselves or our property. The parents of these scum on the whole do not work, pay no taxes and sneer at us who do. Small wonder people are leaving this country to live abroad. What future does this country hold - just fear to walk the streets or fell safe in your own home.
Pat Forsyth, England

I have certainly not seen a decrease in crime where I live - in fact it appears to have significantly increased. I think crime has simply been displaced to other areas by new initiatives (i.e. Local Authorities issuing Anti Social Behaviour Orders). As a result the estates are being cleaned up & the problem is pushed into private housing areas where landlords are buying up properties. Where I live received millions in City Challenge Funding - some of which was spent around crime initiatives & community safety type projects. Rather than regenerate the area I feel my area has been degenerated! Bring back corporal punishment, national service and give the police greater powers. Sentencing should also be harsher.
Paula, UK

Blaming drugs and social deprivation for crime is an insult to those who remain poor but honest
Sue Donnelly, UK
Blaming drugs and social deprivation for crime is an insult to those who remain poor but honest. The causes of crime are simply that people no longer care about right and wrong. It is wrong to vandalise, to steal, to take drugs. By introducing discussion, excuses, treatments, we are condoning criminal behaviour, and removing personal accountability and responsibility. We may not like the idea in a democratic society, but unless people fear detection and punishment (which at the moment they clearly do not), and unless there is condemnation and shame in having a criminal record, we are fighting a losing battle.
Sue Donnelly, UK

There is no incentive for prosecutors or judges to put offenders away for long periods as they need criminals out on the streets causing mayhem in order to justify their own employment. If you send someone down for 5 years then that's a lot of trials/hearings the lawyers are missing out on.
Dave, UK

Drugs abuse and petty crime are consequences of poverty. Providing adequate treatment and support for drug users is required for the benefit of the users of the drugs, not the victims of the crimes. Yes they are linked, but not in such a causal manner. To say this was a missed opportunity is to underestimate the scope of the problems we face.
Paul Chorley, UK

We need more police on the street who actually know what is going on in the neighbourhood
Adrian Tanovic, UK
We need more police on the street who actually know what is going on in the neighbourhood. Just strolling down the avenue once every few hours does nothing - you can see them coming a mile away! In my neighbourhood all the junkies (the main source of crime) just scatter as the 'bush telegraph' goes round, only to return immediately after the police have gone. My message to police: get into the neighbourhoods, learn the patterns of behaviour, use cctv if necessary, go plainclothes, ask residents and shopkeepers what's happening and where the problems are, adopt the New York model of clamping down on all forms of anti-social behaviour because this creates the milieu in which crime flourishes.
Adrian Tanovic, UK

When boundaries are broken without the problem being addressed, then a person will have no regard for them. It is no good trying to affirm boundaries later on in life when a person has never adhered to them. They should be addressed at a very early age with things like litter dropping and abusive language i.e. like the Americans are discovering with zero tolerance initiatives. A person does not suddenly decide to go out and mug someone when they have never done something illegal before, they have usually gotten away with things before. I think education in early schooling is very important to teach the social aspects of life, but this costs money and so we end up paying at the back end, which is much more expensive.
Andy Haywood, Sweden

As a reporter on a local newspaper, I have covered many hearings at Magistrates' Courts. I am more often than not left astounded by the soft-option sentences handed down by those on the bench. Magistrates seem to be completely out of touch with reality. I support the police wholeheartedly and admire the work they do. If crime is to go down, the punishment must start fitting the crime.
C, England

Let's start copying those countries where the crime rate is low
Steve B, England
Crime is rife in this country. Nothing will be achieved until the government of the day decides to crack down on all crime. Follow the New York pattern of zero tolerance - their crime rate has fallen dramatically. Appoint Judges who are more representative of the people - too many are out of touch and don't even live in crime ridden areas. Let's start copying those countries where the crime rate is low.
Steve B, England

I work for a Neighbourhood Management Pathfinder team, which is all about discovering joined up solutions for joined up problems. Tackling prolific offenders and not treating the cause of why their offending is a waste of time. We need to get to the root of these problems and treat why this person is offending, whether that be a drug issue or anything else. Of course tackling drug issues will have an impact on crime! People need money to survive, and chaotic heroin users do not tend to hold down jobs so their only way to get money is to commit crime. In this instance Crime does pay. How else would an addict get money? Think who is the victim here - the person who is the victim of crime or the heroin addict? I would say both have a raw deal!
Jane Makin, England

We need more police with more powers
Ian Reed, UK
I think it's time the police were given more powers to really be able to deal with trouble and crime. Kids these days have no fear of the police. We need more police with more powers with the judicial system handing out tougher and tougher sentences. Prison is not meant to be nice. The judicial system is getting softer and should perhaps be given an overhaul.
Ian Reed, UK

Legalisation and control of drugs is the only solution. Did we learn nothing from prohibition?
Anon, UK

As Anon says, legalising and controlling all drugs would do far more than anything else to reduce crime in this country. The reason the government does nothing is that the opposition parties would try to make serious political gains from opposing such a radical policy shift. New Labour is too timid to take that risk. The parties should meet behind closed doors and agree a unified position on this. If they did so I believe we could halve the amount of crime in this country in a matter of months.
Hugh, UK

The biggest enemy is the liberal elite
John Karran, Merseyside, UK
Some positive signs are out there at the moment. More realistic judges are needed to give better sentencing. More attacks on the drug lords who launder their money through businesses and use corrupt accountants. Improve the morale of the police through the liberals getting off their backs and helping the police do their job. More instruction in schools of how to be a citizen and what is required, and why is it needed for social harmony. The biggest enemy is the liberal elite who undermine every effort that is not to their dogma.
John Karran, Merseyside, UK

Burglary and theft have recently been significantly reduced, bringing me direct benefits (lower insurance costs for my car and my house contents). How has this been achieved? By pushing offenders with drug habits into re-hab programs, that's how. These policies actually work, even though many regard them as liberal, and a "soft touch".
John, England

Citizens have a responsibility too
Nick Murphy, UK
It's not just up to the police to tackle crime. Citizens have a responsibility too. This starts with good parenting, but extends to being a good neighbour. I had a conversation with a woman last week who knows of regular drug dealing in her area. She won't tell the police because it is "none of her business". If we are serious about tackling crime, it is all of our business to work with the police and make our communities safer.
Nick Murphy, UK

The only reason crime figures are reducing is that the police now refuse to record reported robberies, theft etc where they know they have no chance of investigating them (i.e. muggings, pick-pocketing etc.) Additionally, what sort of justice system do we have when we jail someone for years for protecting their own property? This sends out some great signals to the criminals!
Jon, UK

Surely the answer is to provide the resources to stop the overt marketing of drugs
Geoff B, UK
If drugs are the reason that most petty criminals steal, why are all the agencies not working together in trying to remove all levels of drug dealing from the streets etc? Surely the answer is to provide the resources to stop the overt marketing of drugs to young people and reduce the demand, thus reducing the future crime levels.
Geoff B, UK

Some estimates say that up to 80% of burglary is committed by a hardcore elite of drug addicts. They are not scared of the police and will continue to steal to feed their habit, so by helping them off the drugs we will dramatically reduce crimes such as burglary, muggings and shoplifting. Lots of police is all well and good but didn't Blair promise us that he was going to be tough on the causes of crime. I still see a mountain of social deprivation, with no solution proposed.
Rahul, UK

Concentrate on the people not the figures
Louise, England
Not enough visible police officers, more funds must be made available to recruit more officers and for once the politicians should come down from their comfy secluded lifestyles and look at the streets for what they really are then they might get a better idea of what is wrong and actually come up with plans that might actually have a chance of surviving. Concentrate on the people not the figures.
Louise, England

Crime down 17%. Robberies down by 41% in Merseyside. Sir Keith Povey, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, calling the initiative "a groundbreaking, speedy and robust response to an urgent problem which achieved a great deal". So how does the BBC "spin" the story? By highlighting relatively minor failings in what are, after all pilot programmes. When this successful scheme is rolled out nation-wide, the lessons learned will be used to improve it further. Maybe then the BBC will report the story in an impartial, politically-unbiased way.
Nigel, England

I have to say that the only reason street crime has fallen is due to the fact that much of it is not reported. My brother and several of his mates have been 'taxed' - the street term for mugging, seven times, reported it, but nothing was done - he no longer feels he will bother if it happens again.
Helen, UK

Whilst I do not subscribe to the 'hang 'em and flog 'em' faction I do believe that the soft sentences handed down by the pious do-gooders who sit in judgement upon offenders are a significant cause of the rise in crime. Some of the sentences, particularly those made by magistrates are risible.
Jonathan Bennett, England

The only thing that's ever been shown to work is good old-fashioned beat policing by officers known personally by the people they police. It is preventative rather than punitive, and it would also remove the need for all the 'Orwellian' surveillance initiatives which the government seems to be trying to push through. The problem is that, by definition, the success of preventative measures are hard to quantify, and thus not given due respect by the bean-counters in Whitehall.
Graham, UK

Most of us in the UK are essentially unprotected
Des, London
No - Britain needs an effective police force. Currently there are over 60 in the UK, most of them too small to do any more than issue parking tickets and move on drunks. At present most of us in the UK are essentially unprotected. The police act virtually as a Praetorian Guard, protecting government, the judiciary and visiting celebrities. The rest are left to hope our alarms work and we don't turn down the wrong street. London, the Rio De Janeiro of Europe!
Des, London, UK

Improving drug addiction services is too little, too late. It is obvious it has to start in primary school education. It is not just up to the police - families must take an active role to protect their own. There is a whole generation of weakened youth and parents who use drugs, it is up to the older generation to start to police and care for their own families.
F. Williamson, England

How about extending the programme to other areas of the country which may not be 'hotspots', but where people feel unsafe so that fewer people are encouraged to take the law into their own hands?
Anon, UK

Judges should be re-appraised
P King, UK
I heard that a judge stopped the trial of some international drug traffickers because the police used unlawful methods to trap them. Presumably he would stop charges against Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein if they were caught by similar methods. I think judges should be re-appraised for sanity every few years. They get corrupted by absolute power.
P King, UK

Cause and effect are missing in trials and sentencing. If a thief steals a car, crashes into a wall and destroys the car, then they must pay back every penny that was spent undoing their damage. They must re-build that wall and pay for the police time spent capturing them. If the car's worth 40k and it takes them 10 years to pay it back, then so be it. Link the impact on the victim back to the criminal to learn what their conscious decision to take what they have not earned, to go where they have no right, to injure others, means.
Tom Franklin, UK

When crime figures go down the police treat it as a success, when figures go up it's nearly always blamed on "new reporting techniques".Will the spin ever cease?
Toby Cockburn, UK

To say that not including drug treatment was a 'missed opportunity' is an understatement. We KNOW the inextricable link between drugs and crime. To ignore this is gross mismanagement of the situation. Sounds to me like the government, despite their promises, are dealing with the surface of crime not the causes...
Wendy, UK

Visibility, visibility, visibility. From New York to Teesside there is proof that visible and assertive policing works. By tackling petty crime and confronting anti-social behaviour it deters kids from "graduating" to more serious crimes. Here in Islington - the backyard of Blairism, we are plagued by gangs of kids and no-one - MPs, council, police - appears to be able or willing to do anything about it. For those who do fall into a life of crime then I'd support joined-up initiatives, although I have grown sceptical of the weekly initiatives this government appears to produce.
David, London, N1




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