Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 14:45 UK

Huhne calls for better policing

By Gavin Stamp
BBC News political reporter, Bournemouth

Chris Huhne's speech in full

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne has set out his vision for tackling crime, calling for better policing rather than tougher sentences.

At the party conference he attacked both Labour and the Conservatives for what he called "punishment posturing".

He said people should not be sent to jail for minor offences when other punishments would be more effective.

Resources must be directed towards more effective policing and detection rather than more prisons, Mr Huhne added.

'Tough choices'

In his speech, he said the crime debate "was totally removed from reality" and accused Labour of creating 3,600 new offences since 1997 - a form of "legislative diarrhoea" - rather than enforcing existing laws.

Labour and the Conservatives were ducking "hard thinking and tough choices" on crime prevention and penal reform, instead relying on ever-tougher sentencing.

"Penalties are tough enough," he said. "The answer is simple. Catch criminals to cut crime."

The Lib Dems are committed to putting 10,000 extra police officers on the streets.

The party has also set out its transport plans, reinforcing existing pledges for a national road pricing scheme for motorways and trunk roads, a new high-speed rail link from London to Manchester and a surcharge on air tickets for journeys within the UK to fund investment in public transport.

Transport spokesman Norman Baker said the plans would tackle congestion and pollution without unfairly penalising motorists.

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