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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 16:09 GMT
Labour unveils 'tough' crime plan
Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke said Labour would invest in police services
Tougher laws on knife sales, random drug testing for prolific criminals and town centre bans for drunken violence are pledged in Labour's crime plan.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke promises more investment in police and "tough action" on criminals in the government's five-point proposals.

More community support officers are also guaranteed to boost patrols.

The Tories are pledging 40,000 more police, and the Lib Dems more police and community support officers.

Labour says it inherited a system in which police numbers were falling and recorded crime had doubled since the 1970s.

Its policy document says recorded crime has dropped by 30%, while police numbers have risen by 13,000 under Labour.


Mr Clarke said on Thursday that a new violent crime bill would be one of the first measures introduced after the general election, if Labour won a third term.

It would see the minimum age for buying knives and replica firearms raised from 16 to 18, and head teachers given the power to search pupils for knives.

There would be drug-testing on arrest in Britain's 100 highest crime areas, treatment for all who test positive and twice-weekly random tests for prolific criminals after they left prison.

We will invest in tackling the causes of crime, as well as tough action on criminals
Charles Clarke

The government would also increase community support officers from 5,000 to 24,000 and create dedicated policing teams led by full-time police officers in every community.

Chris Fox, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said more community support officers were "a piece of the jigsaw" and important as high-visibility patrols, but had to be backed up by fully-trained officers.

The Labour plans also include a "three strikes and you're banned" rule to try to keep those convicted of alcohol-related violence or disorder out of town centres.

Unveiling the measures, Mr Clarke said: "We will invest in tackling the causes of crime, as well as tough action on criminals."

But shadow home secretary David Davis said Labour's policies had all been heard before and said violent, anti-social behaviour and drug and alcohol-fuelled crime had gone up under Labour.

The Tories are promising more police officers on the streets "free from the burden of red tape", and more drug rehabilitation places.

The Lib Dems also said crimes, particularly gun crime, had "rocketed" under Labour.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten said tackling knives and replica guns was "long overdue", but internet sales also needed to be regulated and the maximum sentence raised for carrying a knife.


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