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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Howard outlines crime fight plans
Michael Howard
Howard: Wants return of respect
Michael Howard has set out his crime strategy, pledging to free police from political correctness and bureaucracy.

The Tories would recruit 40,000 extra officers, back zero tolerance policing, build more prisons and "stand up for the silent, law-abiding majority".

Officers would not be asked to spend time issuing receipts to every person stopped, as currently planned, he said.

The Tory leader blamed "sociological mumbo-jumbo" for blurring the distinction between right and wrong.

He pledged to scrap the electronic tagging system which has seen 68,000 prisoners released early since 1999 - with Mr Howard saying that 3,500 offences had been committed by tagged offenders.

The recording of ethnic group, name and address of all those stopped by the police was one of the recommendations of the Macpherson Report into Stephen Lawrence's death.

At the moment records are only kept of those who are searched after being stopped.

KEY POINTS OF POLICING PLAN
Back officers on stop and search
Drop Home Office plans to issue receipt to every person stopped
Increase police officer numbers by 40,000
Introduce zero tolerance policing
Build more prisons and end early release scheme
Increase drug rehab places from 2,000 to 20,000

Mr Howard, speaking in Middlesbrough, said recording the details of a person stopped took an average of seven minutes and the Tories would not implement the Macpherson recommendation if they came to power.

He said: "If a police officer saw a troublemaker on the high street, is he or she more likely to stop him if it means having to spend seven minutes filling in the paperwork.

"Imagine if it was half a dozen - that's not just seven minutes - that's the best part of an hour."

He also called for more respect to be shown by people in general, urging stronger discipline and respect in schools and at home.

He stressed the need for fathers to play a key role in children's lives, particularly for boys - saying the Tories would bring in a presumption for equal parenting rights.

Rights

Mr Howard pledged to return to schools the power to deal with violent and unruly pupils.

"Disruptive pupils do not just ruin their own education; they ruin that of every other child in the class," he said.

Mr Howard attacked the tendency in wider society for rights to outweigh citizens' sense of responsibility.

"Many people now believe that they are no longer wholly responsible for their actions. It's someone else's fault, or something else's fault - the environment, society and the government," he said.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Strip-search a police officer and you'll probably find he's carrying more stationery than a high-street branch of WH Smith.
Patrick V. Staton, Guildford, UK

There was an "ethical quagmire" where "the clear distinction between right and wrong has been lost in sociological mumbo-jumbo and politically correct nonsense", he added.

Referring to Tony Blair's speech last month calling for an end to the 1960s liberal consensus on law and order, he said he had ended that when he became home secretary in the early 1990s.

Mr Howard made the speech after meeting the town's independent mayor, Ray Mallon.

Mr Mallon earned the nick-name "Robocop" during his police career because of his zero-tolerance approach to crime and unruly behaviour.

Mr Howard took the opportunity to outline what he said were the successes of zero tolerance policing in Middlesbrough and New York.

Stop and search
A youth stopped and searched
"By challenging so-called small crimes head-on, you push back the burglars, car thieves and drug dealers responsible for so much crime in Britain today," he said.

He said the Conservatives would support the police on stop and search.

A Conservative government would increase prison space, and also increase from 2,000 to 20,000 the number of drug rehabilitation spaces in the UK.

"Addicts will then face a choice - rehab or prison, and if you drop out of rehab you go straight to prison, there will be no second chances," he will say.

The element of the speech which received most comment beforehand was the announcement that the Conservatives would not implement the Macpherson recommendation on issuing receipts to those stopped.

That decision was described as "deeply disappointing" by Simon Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, which encourages ethnic minorities to participate in the democratic process.

He said it was "sanctioning the demonisation of black and Asian youth".

Draconian

"Over the last 12 months the Conservatives have come a long way to positively engage with Britain's black communities," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

But the system of stop and search was a "draconian, humiliating, sledgehammer to crack a nut approach to crime".

Middlesbrough mayor's Ray Mallon
Ray Mallon took a zero-tolerance approach to crime

In response to the speech Home Secretary David Blunkett urged Mr Howard to take responsibility for the cuts in police numbers he oversaw while he was home secretary and his pledge to cut the Home Office budget by 1.6bn.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said: "Michael Howard's Alf Garnett approach to criminal justice policy is more hot air than heavyweight thinking.

"Crime doubled during the last Conservative government."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's James Landale
"Howard believes society has lost a sense of respect"



SEE ALSO:
Full text: Howard on law and order
10 Aug 04  |  Politics
Equal parenting rights rejected
21 Jul 04  |  Politics
Tory party 'must raise its game'
01 Aug 04  |  Politics


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