Page last updated at 11:03 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 12:03 UK

Ex-EastEnder Brooke Kinsella backs Tories on crime

Kinsella: 'We need better education and discipline'

Ex-EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose brother was stabbed to death, has backed the Tories on crime, saying they would "make our streets safe again".

Under a future Conservative government, she would head a panel deciding how grants were distributed to voluntary groups tackling youth crime, she said.

Her appointment was announced as leader David Cameron spoke in south London about "mending the broken society".

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said figures showed violent crime falling.

Mr Cameron, who had earlier told BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat his campaign team were "going to have to have a great last 10 days" to win the election, was spelling out how his vision of a "Big Society" could address Britain's problems.

Violence against people had risen, drug offences were up 70% and there were 10,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour every day, while one in six children grew up in a home where nobody worked, and the poor were getting poorer, he said.

"These are astonishing statistics," he said.

Violent crime is falling, crime overall is falling - neighbourhood policing is out there
Alan Johnson
Home Secretary

"What makes them more astonishing is that in the past decade the state has been hyperactive in its attempts to deal with them. It's pumped record amounts of money in. It has passed a record number of laws," he said.

Mr Cameron said he would not pretend that the "broken society" had been created under Labour, but said after 13 years it was right to question the government's effectiveness in dealing with the problems.

"The state - monolithic, inhuman, clumsy, often distant - more often than not only treats the symptoms of social problems rather than the causes. Its main response to crime is just passing another war or criminal justice act," he said.

"It's either doing things for you, telling you how to do them or making sure you're doing it their way. We've slowing been losing the value of responsibility in society."

Mr Cameron acknowledged he would again be criticised for saying society was broken, but insisted he was "saying this as I see it".

The Conservatives are pledging long-term funding for engagement and mentoring projects in each of the 100 most-deprived council wards in England and Wales.

Miss Kinsella has been chosen to head up a "small group of young people" who will decide which organisations should get that cash.

Family 'destroyed'

Her brother Ben, 16, was stabbed 11 times in Islington, north London, in 2008.

David Cameron watches Brooke Kinsella speak
I want to put my faith in a government who will make our streets safe again
Brooke Kinsella
Sister of stabbing victim

She told the audience that his death "completely destroyed my family".

"Ever since then we've been trying to come to terms with exactly what happened that night," she said.

Miss Kinsella said that since his death she had spent time campaigning about knife crime and was shocked at how young people were not concerned about the consequences of their actions.

Her conclusions were that education to help youngsters realise they did not need to get involved in gangs, rehabilitation of those whose lives had "gone off the rails", and discipline were essential to tackling the problem.

She said the government had failed to live up to its promise to ensure anyone caught carrying a knife went to jail and that people were "becoming immune" to news of stabbing deaths.

"I want to put my faith in a government who will make our streets safe again," said Miss Kinsella.

"I do think that David Cameron and the Conservatives will do this. Their policies on knife crime seem to be the toughest."

Conservative 'lies'

Miss Kinsella had appeared with Gordon Brown at the launch of the government's No To Knives initiative, in December 2008.

But she said of Labour: "Sadly, although I think they care, I do not think they have done enough."

She admitted she was "petrified" by the prospect of her new role with the Conservatives.

"It's terrifying in its responsibility, but I'm very excited and passionate about it," she added.

Meanwhile, the home secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Tories were "telling lies" about crime by saying violence against the person was rising.

"The statistics show that violent crime is falling, crime overall is falling," said Mr Johnson.

"People are getting the message that neighbourhood policing is out there, something they can actually use."

However, he accepted the chances of being mugged on the street had remained the same since 1997.



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