Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 15:44 UK

Brown unveils anti-crime strategy

Police officer
Gordon Brown was addressing a crime conference in west London

Gordon Brown has launched a government strategy targeting "new kinds" of crime such as knife crime, organised crime, e-crime and identity theft.

The prime minister also promised £4m of seized criminal assets for anti-crime projects decided by local communities.

And Mr Brown said he wanted every police force in England and Wales to consider walking people the last mile home if they felt unsafe.

Shadow minister James Brokenshire described such an idea as "absurd".

'Citizen panels'

Mr Brown told a crime conference in west London: "We face new kinds of crime - especially knife crime, organised crime, e-crime and identity theft - and now of course the new challenge of preventing what happened in previous recessions, where crimes like burglary and robbery went up.

"We face new causes of crime, including binge drinking, youth gangs and problem families.

"And we need new ways of responding - for government, the police, courts, local authorities and communities themselves."

Announcing the money for local initiatives, he said: "From today, £4m of criminal assets will be available for projects decided by local communities.

"People will be able to vote on a website, or give their views at neighbourhood policing meetings or citizens' panels, on projects that could range from cleaning up a playground of graffiti and broken glass to providing activities for young people to do on a Friday night."

The prime minister said a new "Safer Streets" website would be launched in the summer, where the public could identify locations where they feel unsafe and get the police or local council to act.

'Piles of paperwork'

A scheme run by the Metropolitan Police is already under way in Wanstead, east London, where members of the public can be walked home by neighbourhood officers if they feel unsafe, from places such as cashpoints.

Mr Brown said: "Each area can learn from the innovation of others, such as the Wanstead neighbourhood police team here in London offering to walk people the last mile home if they feel unsafe. I want every area in the country to consider doing this."

Shadow crime reduction minister Mr Brokenshire said the prime minister's speech was an "insult to the victims of crime and our police force".

He said: "The government must finally release police officers from bureaucracy and back into our communities."

Mr Brokenshire added: "It's absurd that Gordon Brown thinks that police have time to escort people back from the bank.

"Between piles of paperwork and trying to fight crime, it's troubling to think the government view this as achievable for police officers across the country."



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