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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 01:21 GMT
Q&A: Street offences crime summit

A crime summit to tackle the sharp rise in street offences is being chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

BBC's Home Affairs corresponent Jon Silverman looks at the issues under discussion and whether delegates can hope to make any difference.

So how important is this meeting?

The government clearly sees it as important because the prime minister is chairing Wednesday's meeting - future meetings will probably be chaired by the home secretary.

And it is a clear signal that the government is getting increasingly alarmed about headlines suggesting the current epidemic of lawlessness is out of control.

What will delegates be discussing?

They will be discussing initiatives aimed at reducing a predicted rise in street offences over the last year in England and Wales of more than 25%.

Specific concerns are mobile phone thefts; carjackings; use of weapons in commission of crime.

Apart from diverting more police onto the streets, they will be looking at measures to reduce truancy and school exclusions.

Drugs initiatives will be discussed because drugs are behind much street crime.

Will it be a regular occurrence?

There will be fortnightly meetings for the foreseeable future - but without the prime minister's involvement - to keep up the impetus.

Can the attendees make any significant difference?

Eighteen months ago, an anti-robbery initiative in five 'hotspots' in England and Wales was launched at a cost of 20m. But this week, David Blunkett admitted it had been "deeply unimpressive" in terms of results.

There is scepticism outside Whitehall that this is another initiative designed to capture headlines and demonstrate a multi-agency approach to the problem which may also fail to bring down crime significantly.

Who is attending?

Attendees will be Mr Blair; Education Secretary, Estelle Morris; Health Secretary, Alan Milburn; Home Secretary, David Blunkett; the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine; the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith; Transport Secretary, Stephen Byers; Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Alastair Darling; the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; the Metropolitan police commissioner; the President of ACPO; the Chief Inspector of Constabulary; members of the Youth Justice Board and representatives of the Local Government Association.

See also:

17 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Blitz on crime 'to reclaim streets'
08 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Crime fight 'needs sweeping reforms'
28 Feb 02 | UK
Tackling drug-related crime
17 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Inner city crime rates 'unacceptable'
21 Feb 02 | UK
Panic on the streets?
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