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Last Updated: Monday, 25 April, 2005, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
Which party can cut crime?
Conservative leader Michael Howard meeting a police officer
Labour say they will cut crime by 15% by 2008 and initiate a Violent Crime Reduction Bill to tackle imitation guns and knives if they are re-elected.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged more police as have the Tories along with their plans to reduce paperwork.

The pledges come as figures for recorded violent crime in England and Wales show a rise of 9%, although crime overall is down 5%.

Labour leader Tony Blair admitted though that despite a fall in crime he was aware that, "for many people in local communities, it doesn't feel like that."

Which of the parties has the best policy for law and order? Will it affect your vote? Whose plans will achieve the best results? Send us your views and experiences.

How are the parties doing on crime and other issues? Dr Nick Randall, lecturer and specialist in British Politics, answered your questions.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

No political party is going tackle the problem of crime effectively. The problem stems from childhood poverty in terms of early consistent parental care and interest. As teenagers the majority of these will become lost causes. The state encourages people who become poor parents by giving them housing and money to live but nothing in the way of support in how to be an effective parent. Society is therefore guaranteed an endless stream of disaffected purposeless teenagers whose life can be expected to be in and out of prison. Their only role in society is to keep social workers, probation officers and police officers busy and to keep the legal profession in work.
Dek, Nuneaton, UK

It is impossible to believe the crime figures given out by any of the politicians as they all use which ever crime figures help demonstrate the point they are trying to make. The real question for me is do you personally think crime is better or worse since Labour came to power and are there more police on the street as they promised. Personally my answers are no. I think crime has got worse and it is a long time since I last saw an actual policeman on the street patrolling the area. What I would also like to know is how many police are actually working on the front line and how many in offices? A lot more I suspect since Labour came to power.
Michael, Beaconsfield, UK

None of the parties can cut crime. All they are doing is going on about strengthening the police - they are just being reactionary. What is needed is for them to prevent crime, and the only way that they can do this is by actually caring about normal people and our communities.
Ross, Notts

Not one politician has solved, or deterred a criminal form perpetrating a single crime. That is done by policemen and policewomen.
Dave, Ramsgate, England

There are too many who think a uniform gives them some sort of power already on our streets
Michael Mciver, Hastings, England
Please, whoever wins, we do not want community officers on our streets; we want genuine fully trained police men and women. There are too many who think a uniform gives them some sort of power already on our streets.
Michael Mciver, Hastings, England

I have personal friends who are policemen, anyone who doubts what the Conservatives are saying about crime levels, police being swapped with paper work and PC bureaucracy, crime getting worse and the effectiveness of our justice system should ask what a real life, street beat bobby thinks. I can tell you that they paint a very different picture to the one Labour would have the electorate believe.
Ben, Nottingham

I think Labour could be very good at cutting crime by simply doing what they do best and legalising everything. Either that or sample the figures until they 'get the right result'. No longer a problem!
James, SE Cornwall, UK

Those who write critical comments about Tony Blair and the past eight years of fighting crime should look at Michael Howard's record. While he was in government crime doubled, and Howard himself cut the number of police and cut training.
Anon, UK

The Conservative Party in my opinion will be more successful in tackling crime. Tony Blair promised that if Labour is re-elected they will cut crime by 15%. Question: what have they been doing for the last eight years?
Patrick O'Neill, Hatfield

Don't let the Tories jump on the bandwagon of the good work that Labour has done
Peter Parker, Basingstoke, Hants
Under the Tories the police lost control of our streets and as a consequence they were taken over by drug barons resulting in muggers, child prostitution and organized crime. Corrupt police officers were allowed early retirement and long term sick to avoid prosecution. Why did Home Secretary Michael Howard give early release to John Haase and Paul Bennett - two of Britain's notorious drug barons - and allow immigrants to walk through the Channel Tunnel? Don't let the Tories jump on the bandwagon of the good work that Labour has done.
Peter Parker, Basingstoke, Hants

Nobody forces people into crime it is a lifestyle choice. People are not poor in this country, nobody goes hungry and no one is denied medical treatment. There are millions of jobs available and for the really lazy the government is happy to give them hundreds of pounds in benefits each week. I am sick of all the apologists for criminals and the weak minded politicians and judges who still think these people can be helped. They can't. America has proved that the more criminals you lock up the more crime goes down. It is a simple as that.
Clive, Birmingham

Focus on the figures. Crime is down and continues to fall. Don't get sucked into believing Tory claims - they are just another scaremongering tactic from Mr Howard and his increasingly desperate party. I am astonished at the number of people falling for the oldest trick in the book. I thought us Brits were better than that.
Jeff Cummings, Leamington Spa

Process, procedure and paperwork. It pervades all professions including the police. The policeman who gave Blair a hard time on Radio5 two days ago said that for every policeman out their on the beat, there are four more doing paperwork back at the station. Apparently it is now over 200% worse since labour came to power. This government are too soft on offenders, too interested in bureaucracy and I will never vote for them again.
Alex Ellingworth, Datchet, Berks

Even the general public has become apathetic in its response to crime
Chris, Medway
Irrespective of which party is in government, over the years, all have limited the police in their response. The courts have also refused to punish offenders with the punishment to fit the crime. Even the general public has become apathetic in its response to crime in preferring 'not wanting to get involved' to standing up for what is right.
Chris, Medway

The suggestion that being on lower income makes people commit crime is insulting to the majority of law-abiding, hard-working people - particularly as they are most often the victims of crime. The law is the basis of a free democratic society and should apply equally to all - so no special favours for drunken yobs, drug users, burglars etc. who too often get rewarded with "treatment" programmes rather than being justly punished.
Richard, Gloucestershire

Nottingham has a new nickname "Assassin City" because of the gun crime. People of Nottingham are sick of crime and want action and less talk.
Tony Passarelli, Nottingham, UK

Not Labour, they can only punish the victims. If Labour were as tough on the criminals as they are on the law abiding we would have a much safer society.
Charlie, Scotland

Criminals should be locked up with no human rights allowed
Mark, Maidstone
As soon as someone breaks in to your house they should lose all rights. If they are killed by the homeowner then tough. Criminals should be locked up with no human rights allowed. Terrorists and murderers should be executed.
Mark, Maidstone

I have been a victim of crime many times. On only one occasion did the police want to know. On the last occasion, I was attacked and threatened with death and my car suffered £600 of damage. The attacker was caught and admitted the offences. He was not brought to court as 'it was not a serious enough crime'. Needless to say, none of the four major parties will get my vote.
Keith, Ipswich, UK

The only party that can really cut crime is the BNP. Their no-nonsense approach to crime and disorder is just what this country needs. We don't need Asbos and community sentences, we need criminals to be locked up to repay their debt to society in full.
Dean, Manchester

We tend to keep our ears, eyes and mouth shut and hope we don't cross yobbish behaviour or crime. These gangs operate on the fear factor and it clearly works. I want to see a government that will instil fear in these individuals.
Bob, Hull

This government has turned our police force into a group of namby-pamby social workers
AJH, Manchester, England
This government has turned our police force into a group of namby-pamby social workers, and crippled them with miles of red tape and Human Rights tripe. Michael Howard is the only person who would strip this back and let the police get on with their real job.
AJH, Manchester, England

Why is it that kids and gangs are competing against other to get the most Asbos round my way? Aren't they supposed to be a punishment?
Paul, Nottingham, UK

It takes nerve for a police chief officer to come out publicly and declare he needs help. To me this equates to Labour's failure to deal with crime. It's time for the Tories, lets see what they can do.
Oscar, Dagenham, UK

It amazes me that Labour can claim that they will cut crime by 15% in three years. Do they have a crystal ball? Or are they just going to pretend that 15% of crimes don't happen?
Oliver, UK

Police have told me personally they have too much paperwork
John Day, Barnet, Herts
I cannot believe what Tony Blair says anymore. Every one of my relatives has been a victim of crime. Youth behaviour in New Barnet is out of control - there are still not enough police on the streets at the right time ie later in the evening when these yobs are hanging around in the streets doing nothing apart from blocking pavements and yelling abuse. Police have told me personally they have too much paperwork.
John Day, Barnet, Herts

Michael Howard was such a disaster as Home Secretary, as crime relentlessly spiralled upwards. No, the Tories have long since lost the title of being the party of 'law and order'. The mantle has been taken by Labour as the only party with clear policies on tackling the yob and binge drinking culture. It's just all talk and hot air from the Tories.
Craig Stewart, UK

When will any of the parties realise that crime is mostly how children are brought up? Surely the answer is in the hands of the parents who breed these (sometimes) dreadful offspring, taking no responsibility whatsoever for their children's actions, mostly having the attitude that their precious little darlings can do no wrong. How the police cope is a mystery to me. I have no connection with the police force whatsoever!! Just many years of observation.
Phaedra, London

I have great respect for all of our police officers. Society is a lot better with them that without! We will not achieve anything if we continue to adhere to a "fiddle the figures and say everything's okay" practice, as Labour always seems to.
W, UK

I've never seen a policeman on foot or even bicycle in the 12 years where I live
Mark, Southampton, UK
I've never seen a policeman on foot or even bicycle in the 12 years where I live. Add to that the fact that for 2 our 3 calls made by us to the police, 2 didn't get a response - just a call back 4 hours later saying they didn't have anyone to send out. Don't get me wrong, I think we have one of the best police forces in the world. We just need more of them or to free them from their paperwork. Labour have had their chance to sort things out. Now it's the turn of someone else. I'd give the Conservatives a chance.
Mark, Southampton, UK

I think the best way to reduce crime is to stop making more people criminals, which is what happens every time a new law is introduced. If I want to take drugs, protest without permission, drive at the speed I feel comfortable at on an empty road, or refuse bankroll a war for example, I can be made a criminal. None of these should be illegal. I will vote for whoever reduces state interference in all of our lives and gives power back to people to make educated decisions.
Mark, London

The British National Party has always advocated stern measures for fighting crime. They, as many others, believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Reese Cunning, Oldham

The bullet has to be bitten, but I don't think Labour has the stomach for it
Don, Surrey
In New York the courts sit 24 hours and the criminals are brought, processed and held till their court appearance. They leave free or go to prison. How many criminals would be so hard as they are now if they knew that if they were caught they would not be returning home that evening. These criminals are bailed before the victim has finished dealing with the damage they have caused, let alone the misery they have inflicted. New York, which was more dangerous than Northern Ireland in the seventies is now safer than most of UK's big cities. The bullet has to be bitten, but I don't think Labour has the stomach for it.
Don, Surrey

None of the parties will cut crime. To cut crime we need just three things. Drop human rights, a police service that is allowed to chase criminals not targets and courts that lock up convicted criminals making sure that a prison sentence is a punishment and not a gravy train.
Ron Milligan, Gosport

Only a hard-right party has the right mentality to deal with crime and criminals. We should copy Singapore where murderers are hanged, as are drug dealers and various forms of thuggery are punished by the rattan cane. Liberal measures have failed over the last 30-40 years so it is time for a more punitive approach once again.
Barry, Brentwood

The figures I have seen speak for themselves. Labour has cut all crime by 30% since 1997. This is the figure we get from the use of the only consistent measure we have, the British crime survey. The police measure of recorded crime is not reliable. Labour has encouraged the police to record more crimes, e.g. recording assaults on police was started in 1999. More vigilance in recording drunken incidents and brawling has been encouraged by successive home secretaries. Charles Clarke has said he wants more domestic crime recorded. The true measure of crime is always much higher than the statistics anyway. I say well done Labour. Much more is to be done with more police on the beat and more efficiency. Keep it up!
Vince, Coventry, UK

None of the parties convince on law and order
Roger, UK
None of the parties convince on law and order. People simply can't understand why it is so difficult to have a regular patrol like the police did in Peel's time. I fear the price of failure will be more gated communities and privately funded security guards. The first thing they will do is put people patrolling.
Roger, UK

It takes ten years to train and season a copper. No-one ever takes this into account.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

I believe that to truly reduce crime you have to reduce the motivation to commit crime. This means increasing people's quality of life and reducing wealth gaps. In theory this should happen to a greater extent with more left-wing parties like the Liberal Democrats. In the short-term, policies like increasing the number of police officers visible to the public and other deterrent measures should help reduce crime by making it more difficult to commit.
Holly Cartlidge, Aldershot

If Mr Blair put 24,000 more police officers on the streets instead of these community police offices who have no real powers, perhaps we would see these crime figures go down. Also no one ever mentions the special constabulary; they have full police powers and are out supporting the regular officers. Are their numbers included in the number of police recruited?
Nick, Essex

To cut crime by this 15% margin are we to expect more 'chocolate fire guard' community support officers? I'm sure if Blair does get voted back in, he will be able to manipulate the figures to suit his targets, as he and his party have done throughout their terms in office, and as do all political parties. I also notice not one party has pledged to build more prisons to combat the problem of criminals getting reduced sentences due to the current overcrowding of prisons. The answer is simple, more policemen (not community officers), and more prisons so those who offend serve the time they are given, not half of it.
Chris, UK

Have you tried reporting a crime? I have and all the police are interested in are their targets, if recording the crime against you upsets their figures they will do anything to put you off reporting it properly. I was defrauded of several thousand pounds and had to take a private action. The crime figures are useless if you are not allowed to even report a crime.
Steve P, Wokingham UK

Putting more police on the street won't help if the 'powers that be' who rule on criminals can't or won't send them down for the full amount of the punishment factor. What's the point of giving a sentence and then cutting it because the government of the day has not got the inclination to cut crime by simply building more prisons? The police are piggy in the middle to the judges and politicians and it is the police who have to deal with the offender first hand. Increasing the amount of police men and women is not the solution. If the prisons are full then build more.
James Cavanagh, Glasgow, Scotland

No party can cut crime. A social change is required
Ian, Loughborough
No party can cut crime. A social change is required. Young people no longer respect authority. Small crimes are not punished - and that leads to people thinking it's okay. Respect for others has evaporated.
Ian, Loughborough

None of the parties have hit the nail on the head over crime. The police can and do catch criminals of all types, the problem lies with the courts who repeatedly and consistently let criminals and yobs back out on the streets with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. I always thought that the government ran the country, but the judiciary have far too much power and should only have the power of sentencing within strict guidelines. Until any government reigns in the legal profession and keeps it on a tight rope this country nothing will change.
Alan Baker, Chelmsford

Most people I talk to now agree that the police under Labour are nothing more than tax collectors - only interested in high profile crime or speeding. Mugging, burglary, minor sex attacks - they are not interested
Eddie O'Riordan, Burnham on Crouch

Recorded crime figures show that violent crime is on the increase but you have to take into account that recording measures have changed. It maybe that victims are reporting more crime, which is surely what we would want. A proper analysis of crime should compare like for like and not just inflate the problem as Michael Howard is doing.
Viet-Hai Phung, Nottingham, UK

Growing up under Major, I saw police on patrol nearly every day
Ronald Collinson, Whixall, Shropshire, UK
Growing up under Major, I saw police on patrol nearly every day. Since then, the number of police officers on the streets seems to have dropped dramatically. In the last four years, I have only seen two. These days, the only functions of the police seem to be accosting motorists and looking pretty on parade. The people in the job have not changed, so this must be the fault of the government. Moreover, young people no longer fear being caught. Without a visible police force, there is no deterrent, and the 'consequences' (usually an anti-social behaviour order) are laughable.
Ronald Collinson, Whixall, Shropshire, UK

The Tories are pandering to the old misconception that more police means lower crime. Don't fall for it, it doesn't.
Fred, East Grinstead, England

I am sure the Conservatives will be the party to cut crime. They seem to espouse the old fashioned values. The touchy feely approaches of the other parties seem more interested in focussing on the perpetrators trying to rehabilitate them before they are punished. As for ASBO orders whoever thought those up was very misguided if not criminal.
Pamela Harries, London

Labour keep bringing up Conservative's and Michael Howard's past, so why do they not do the same with crime? Is it because crime figures reduced greatly under him, whilst it appears now violent crime may have increased?
Paul, Edinburgh

I'm a serving police officer and fully support the views of my Boston colleague. The public need to know that this government has hampered policing in this country. Asbos are the only plus to come from Labour.
Steve Jones, Liverpool, UK

The key to reducing crime is to supply a very strong deterrent against committing crime. A more powerful CPS and jail sentences which are seen to be served in full would do just that.
Mike, Cambridge

I believe that more police on the streets is the answer
Oliver, Andover
I believe that more police on the streets is the answer. And only the right wing parties can sort crime out. As a Student, I wish to stand up and say, vote Conservative for a reduce in crime.
Oliver, Andover

The police are only any good at catching cars doing 3MPH over the limit, so we definitely don't need more of them. It's clear that they are set targets from the home office to make their figures look good. We need boot camps for young offenders, to nip crime in the bud. Bring back the birch and hanging for serious crimes like murder, rape, and acts relating to terrorism. The only way to beat crime is to become as ruthless as the criminals. Let's stop trying to fight a problem with our hands tied behind our backs.
Mick Mac, Leeds

I am a serving police officer and I have seen the number of officers drop in the last 2 years. We spend hours dealing with paperwork when we could do our work better on the streets. The promises of less paperwork, more police and longer sentences gets my vote. It's sickening spending hours dealing with a criminal only to see them get a slap on the wrist and let free to carry on committing crime.
Kennie, Hampshire

My wife took part in the British crime survey. When asked if she had been the victim of crime she told the interviewer that her car had been keyed several times and gangs of youths had thrown eggs at our windows. The interviewer's response: "Yes, but that happens all the time doesn't it?"
Danny Harland, Durham

We need real police not 'wardens' if there's the money for them spend it on real police and put them on the beat - not sitting in cars focussing on motorists! Also try enforcing laws we already have rather than continually invent new ones that will never get enforced. But then that is symptomatic of Blair's approach to crime. Don't tackle the real issue - ignore it (or cease to make it an offence) and go for soft targets. Then use spin, lies and statistics to try and fool us it's all right.
John, UK

An increase in police officers doesn't mean a lower crime rate
Dan Byway, Somerset
An increase in police officers doesn't mean a lower crime rate, all it does is allow people to believe they're secure. I can't really see any of the parties making any significant result on lowering crime.
Dan Byway, Somerset

My 85 year old mother's house was broken into recently. When I called the phone number left by the officer who visited her in order to see if there had been any progress, it rang for over 2 minutes, after which hung up. I tried again a few days later. It rang again for over a minute, but was answered by a civilian employee who just happened to be walking by. The officer was out on what she called a "shout". In that case why couldn't they return the call to the switch board or have an answering machine to take messages? If they are this disorganised, it is not surprising they are having trouble keeping up with the villains. This is the fourth time my mother's house has been burgled and she is too frightened to go out now for fear of being burgled again. As far as I am concerned they should lock thieves up and throw away the key. The pain and distress they cause is huge and they contribute nothing to society.
Robert, Cambridge, UK

The Monster Raving Looney idea of using traffic police to catch criminals seems far more sensible than any of the other parties have come up with.
JC, Bath UK

I'm a serving police officer. From reading some of these comments it's a wonder that any of us bother. To start off with "all they do is traffic duties". Don't burglars use cars to get about? How else are we to catch disqualified or drink-drivers? Secondly, someone has written that we were "too busy" to attend his burglary. I'm sure he must be only giving half the story. Domestic burglary is a high priority and we always attend. Yes it's true we may not always get the person who did it, but the intelligence gained from it can often be invaluable. As to the case in point, people can make statistics say whatever they want them to say and everyone knows Labour in particular has done that ever since it came to power. Personally I don't think the level of crime is any higher now than it's ever been. Yes, perhaps violent crime is higher, but in this day and age of high-speed communication and intense media spotlight the awareness of such incidents amongst the public is at an all-time high.
Ian, South West

As a retired police officer from Suffolk I must ask, why support officers and not police officers? Let the UK have fully trained police officer and nothing else.
A Parkin, Vendee, France

I have worked in social services and housing for over 20 years. I see the problem of crime as cowardice by the political parties. The bankers, lawyers, doctors, nurses and social workers who buy cocaine regularly are not arrested and charged as its too politically sensitive. Remember these so called angels contribute to the Yardies' guns. Students are getting way with credit card fraud and to pay their way, again too politically sensitive to arrest and charge. The unemployed chavs from all ethnic groups don't care if we punish them as they don't have anything to lose. We need to make the chavs care about punishment, we need to put in prison the numerous drug purchasing nurses, doctors, social workers, bankers, lawyers and students who feel they are above the law and not doing any harm. Sir Ian Blair has hinted on this but so far as I can tell has taken no action; he's all talk and a political puppet.
Anonymous, London

Labour say crime has fallen. Listen to the news everyday and no doubt you will hear about a robbery, murder, attack, drug raid, car jacking or rape. It wasn't like this 10 to 15 years ago but now even the police have targets to reduce crime. So is it any surprise that crime is falling? I am not saying the Tories had the answer 10 years ago but certainly perception of today's society is that crime is rampant, and the politicians are just offering lip service.
Scott, Birmingham, UK

The Labour party have had since 1997 to reduce crime, but all it has done is go up, up, and up. What makes them think they can reduce it now?
Lester Stenner, UK

The Conservatives are the only party for law and order
N Parekh, Eastcote
The Conservatives are the only party for law and order.
N Parekh, Eastcote

Take away 90% of the police cars and get them out walking the streets. Teach them to read & write so they can fill in forms faster. More police will not bring crime down, only better policing.
R, Cambridge

The first party who will put in writing the following will get my vote. 1) You will close our national borders to all but genuine asylum seekers or skilled workers. 2) You will bring most police officers from behind desks, trim internal bureaucracy, and empower the police to detain violent criminals. 3) To allow householders to use any and all means to subdue burglars, with no fear of counterclaims against them for bodily injury. Looks like it's UKIP for me.
Jim, Nottingham, UK

What is the point in having more Community Support Officers (they patrol in pairs in Burnley)? Why not use the two salaries to pay for a police officer who will have a more beneficial effect on preventing crime and bringing offenders to justice.
G Coyles, Burnley

Crime won't be reduced until the certainty of being caught and punished is considerably increased. If you don't think that you will be caught, you don't begin to consider the potential sentence. Labour have entwined everything that they have touched in red tape, and the police are no exception to this. I think that Mr. Howard and the Tories are the most likely party to do something about this. As he says, it's not rocket science.
RS, Twickenham

Light sentences have made a mockery of our justice system. People recommit crime because they aren't afraid of the punishment. It's a cliché, but life should mean life. If you choose to commit a criminal act that harms others I don't think the human rights act should apply to you.
Guy Johnson, Hertford

I'm not sure more police is the answer - simply better prioritising. In the car park yesterday of my local swimming club police were checking cars to see if they had anything on display. They would then write to you advising not to leave items on display if so. What a waste of time.
Tracy, Watford

The real roots of crime lie in poverty. Areas of deprivation and poverty where there are no facilities and a culture of unemployment are the worst affected by crime. Labour have shown that they are the only party with the will and policies to tackle both poverty and unemployment, and therefore crime.
George Owers, Chelmsford

Slashing taxes and simply increasing police numbers will not reduce crime
Liam Joyce, Leeds, UK
Who do the Conservatives think they're kidding? Slashing taxes and simply increasing police numbers will not reduce crime. Reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and an increase of funds to education will be more sensible. The poor are desperate, and will continue to be if they're not given an even chance from day one. Don't believe me? Go to Sweden.....capitalism and fairness don't cancel each other out.
Liam Joyce, Leeds, UK

When Thatcher came into power, one of the first things she did was to bolster up the police force. I am hoping that a) the Conservatives get in again, and b) they do the same as last time and sort out law and order. As a lot of people I know don't bother to report crime anymore. We need more police out on the roads and pavements. That's the only way to sort out crime; also we need asylum and the NHS sorting out. My colleague has been off work for three weeks with a slipped cartilage, and has been told there is a six to 12 month waiting list to see a specialist!
Tim, UK

The party which reduces poverty the most and takes a pragmatic view about the relationship between drug addiction and theft.
Frank, Bristol

Having called the police two days ago to report a crime (crack dealing) taking place in the street outside my office, I was appalled that it took the police almost five minutes to pick up the phone! By that time the criminals were on the move and there was little that could be done. Surely if response times were quicker then we could reduce crime. What worries me is to think of someone trying to escape from a crime, calling the police and being unable to get through!
Nick Fulford, London

I simply don't believe the statistics produced any more!
Clive, Woking
I simply don't believe the statistics produced any more! My guess is that large numbers of crimes go unreported as we have no faith in the police resolving crime any more. What a sad state of affairs.
Clive, Woking

It doesn't matter how many new policeman you create. Whilst they are tied up catching the same people over and over again their task will never end. The police catch them, the courts let them go. The Lib Dems' punishment in the community is complete nonsense. The courts must be given more power, and resources must be put into providing appropriate punishments.
Mark Q, Hastings, UK

It seems to me that if the government doesn't like the story a specific statistic tells, they find (or create) a more favourable one. Why should anyone believe what Blair and his cronies say about anything?
Andrew, Cardiff, UK

Crime figures need to be taken carefully. Myself, my friends and acquaintances all used to report crime. Over the last few years we have all come to the conclusion, through repeated experience, that reporting any crime to uniformed officers, or relying on the courts, is a complete waste of time, effort and money and we no longer bother. The only time any of us report a crime is when it is necessary for an insurance claim. We have no faith at all in the police or the courts - and many of us have worked, or even still work in these institutions.
DL, Hertfordshire

This government has made a rod for its own back (and ours) by foolishly signing up to the Human Rights Act
John, Manchester, England
This government has made a rod for its own back (and ours) by foolishly signing up to the Human Rights Act. We now have a situation where the police are almost powerless and cannot even 'name and shame' young thugs because it might 'infringe their rights'! I ask you! Michael Howard has the right idea when he says he'll either modify it or scrap it altogether.
John, Manchester, England

It's all a matter of perception. Statistically Cape Town is a much more lawless place than Manchester but I feel much safer in Cape Town. Why? Lots of police on the streets with big guns who will not tolerate gangs of youths hanging around on street corners, who are allied to a judicial system that hands down draconian sentences to the guilty. Cape Town 10, Manchester 0.
Trevor, Cambs, UK

Its people's perception of crime that matters. Endless government surveys may show falling crime rates etc but if you live in a community that is rife with anti-social behaviour then your perception of crime levels is not going to change no matter what the surveys say. More Bobbies on the beat is what's needed. The funding and resources need to be there to make a real difference!! Visit the government's police website and see how may forces which are recruiting at the moment - hardly any!!
Ollie, UK

If they can achieve 15% in three years time, then one wonders what they have been doing for the last eight years.
D. Potts, Guildford, Surrey

Crime is on the up, and no doctored figures will convince me different
Mark, Cardiff, Wales
Crime is on the up, and no doctored figures will convince me different. Criminals have too many rights in this country and there isn't enough of a deterrent to commit crimes. We need a government that isn't afraid to be tough on criminals, not use the kid-gloves of the weak Labour Party.
Mark, Cardiff, Wales

Zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour at all levels would pay dividends. This requires more law officers on patrol. I have no problem with traffic prosecutions but the scale of resource aimed at these does seem out of balance compared to other crime issues. Effective sentencing, which requires the virtual disregard of civil liberty groups, would complete the formula. Any party could initiate the desired policies by just listening to the law abiding majority.
Gavin, Chichester

If there has been a rise in violent crime, why are we having more PCSOs? They have no powers and are instructed to avoid confrontation. How will their contribution reduce violent, if in fact any crime whatsoever?
Andy Wright, Bolton, England

There is too little progress made on Crime and Disorder issues precisely because it is very rare that any two people, let alone criminal justice officers or politicians, can actually forge consensus as to what the criminal justice system is for. The intentions to protect the public from crime, to rehabilitate or educate individuals out of offending and/or to provide appropriate punishment for those who transgress are incompatible goals which can rarely be reconciled within one sentence.
Michael, Birmingham

What the Boston police officer told Tony Blair on BBC Radio 5 Live says it all. Police officers having to fill in forms that take 15 minutes after approaching someone is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. At this rate we will need 100,000 more police to actually make up for the time lost.
Timur Balli, Manchester

Zero tolerance is required
Andrew Carey, Altrincham, UK
The yobs that hang around in groups are the worst. You defend yourself - you get arrested, they attack you and the police don't want to know. If they were arrested then they would get a very lenient punishment if at all, then there's the comeback! It's the broken window syndrome if the police let them take an inch they'll take a yard, zero tolerance is required.
Andrew Carey, Altrincham, UK

Howard wants to do what they do in the USA - lock more people up for longer. The result? Overcrowded prisons and no reduction in crime to show for it. He's been Home Secretary, so he knows this approach doesn't work, but who cares about the facts when there are votes to be had?
Laurie White, Cambridge, UK

Give Labour some credit because there is sound evidence that Asbos really do work! The point about paperwork is that it is necessary to pursue a serious crime. Youth crime? Parents need to take control of their children apart from anything else! Violent crime occurs everywhere, not just the UK, doesn't it?
Matt, Chatham UK

I don't care whether my local officers are ethnic or not
David, Milton Keynes, UK
Michael Howard came closest to the answer with his attacks on political correctness. The police would be a lot more effective if they weren't pussy-footing around trying to be nice to everyone all the time. I don't care whether my local officers are ethnic or not. I am concerned that they don't seem to have a free hand to put the fear of God in the local villains.
David, Milton Keynes, UK

I think what is needed is a government led priority list issued to all police forces. This would then force the police into tackling the more serious crimes and not allowing them the easy statistics friendly option of harassing the motorist.
Marcus, Swansea

Speaking as an intelligence analyst, I'm flattered that TM from Birmingham knows we exist! The problem is that all the parties seem to think that more police officers is a cure-all answer. What's needed is a more joined up approach to crime prevention which takes more than police officers to achieve. It needs cooperation between the police, local councils and dozens of other agencies to work. Not as interesting or as simple to sell as 'more bobbies on the beat', but infinitely more effective.
CW, UK

The way to cut crime is to provide effective sentencing. The way to take violent crime off the streets is to take the offenders off the streets. No liberal wittering about overcrowding - build more prisons.
Andy, Portsmouth

Most of their time is spent completing paperwork for the Home Office
Saleem, Hornchuch, UK
CSO and Asbos combined are a good idea in tackling yob behaviour - it is working in the area where I live. However I have heard from two police forces that although new police officers are recruited, most of their time is spent completing paperwork for the Home Office.
Saleem, Hornchuch, UK

You only have to read the news to know that the Labour government is failing in its policies. It deserves to be removed from government at the next election.
N, UK

Utilising the skills of ex or retired police officers on short term contracts makes a big difference. They can carry out statement taking and other roles, thus freeing serving officers.
Darren, London

A few days ago a friend of mine noticed two youths trying to rob a car outside his house. He shouted to them to clear off. A few minutes later, eight youths smashed down his front door and beat him senseless with a baseball bat. His wife and newborn baby were at home. He received injuries and had to have a brain scan. Until this sort of thuggery is stamped out, the public will not feel safe.
Ray Draper, Northampton

Burglars should lose all of their rights the moment they break the law
Andrew, Chorley
Changing the law to allow victims of crime to defend themselves without fear of prosecution would deter a lot of criminals, but Tony Blair has shown he is far too weak to introduce this law. Burglars should lose all of their rights the moment they break the law and any party that puts forward this proposal will get my vote.
Andrew, Chorley

Andrew, Chorley: we are already allowed to use all reasonable means to defend ourselves when attacked in our homes. One of the Tories worst falsehoods was to claim this isn't the case. People shouldn't be allowed to use any level of force without any fear of prosecution. It would only be a matter of time before an intruder was executed by a homeowner.
David Patrick, Reading, UK

We should not blame any party for increases in crime. It is a phenomenon that has deep roots in our society and has become a cultural trend amongst young people. I firmly believe parents must be made responsible for their children's criminal acts. The parents should pay fines according to the nature of their children's crimes. Police must be given more powers to prevent crime and courts should pass harsher sentences. It is a subject that needs universal discussion to find a remedy.
Saqib Khan, London

Give us bored teenagers something to do. Promote youth groups like scouts rather than tax them out of business. Let youth groups use public parks for free. Discount charges for youth groups to rent halls, tennis courts etc.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

To Jeffrey Lake: oh, so it's our responsibility as taxpayers to make sure you have "something to do". Use your initiative and do something productive. It is not up to other people to give you things. This country still has this socialist stick your hand out mentality.
Martin, UK

Career criminals are allowed to wrack up dozens of convictions. So they have no respect for law and order as they can be safe in the knowledge that a ridiculously soft sentence will be handed down. The sooner we grasp the nettle and accept that some people can't be rehabilitated and that we should be throwing away the key in some cases the better.
Rich, St Albans, UK

The whole criminal justice system handicaps the police
Ian, Baildon UK
The whole criminal justice system handicaps the police. In particular European Court rulings have greatly complicated the considerations needed to gain a successful prosecution. Consequently, huge amounts of police time is spent providing supporting paperwork. Even so, the CPS are now so cautious due to fear of compensation claims that many valid charges are not pursued. When a criminal is convicted, the courts give them, fines (which are rarely paid), community service, weekend detention or they are let out after serving only part of their sentence. The criminals hold all the cards.
Ian, Baildon UK

Whoever gets in power, please can we have real Police? I fear the increase in community service officers on the streets is undermining the good work that fully trained officers do. We, the public, are confused about the extent of the responsibilities of PCSO and the Police, and often this may vary between areas. It's further blurred by many areas having Community Wardens too. Come on guys - keep it simple and help the real police get on with their jobs!
Joe, Billingham, UK

If any party want to tackle crime then they should start with tougher sentences and convicted criminals should serve their full term.
Sonia Richardson, UK

Most people I know no longer bother to report crime - they know that nothing will be done about it. So, sure, levels of recorded crime are falling, but that doesn't mean crime levels are falling. Most of us would say they are still rising, with the justice system loaded in the criminal's favour.
Mark Clifford, London, UK

Money needs to be spent on recruiting more police officers not more CSOs
Naomi, Notts
As a special constable I have a unique insight into this country's policing. Recently I was tied up for over 5 hours dealing with one simple arrest. That's time off the streets where we are needed. Unfortunately CSOs aren't worth the money they are paid - they are unable to arrest or detain, as a special I have all the powers they don't and yet I get paid absolutely nothing - it doesn't make sense. Money needs to be spent on recruiting more police officers not more CSOs. The current recruitment process takes between 12-18months - there are people dying to be officers and yet there isn't the money to employ them.
Naomi, Notts

The political issue of crime is often dominated by statistics and published figures. The media must take the proportion of the blame for leaving most people, especially the elderly and vulnerable, for believing that crime (of all description) is going up in a relentless spiral. This is, of course, not the case and, even though my partner was a victim of theft recently, I believe crime is under control - although there is always room for improvement.
S Parker, Balham, London

Violent crime goes up every single month in most areas. Some people are even afraid to leave their own homes for fear of being attacked. Gun crime has rocketed, drug use and drug dealing have increased exponentially since 1997. If you report a burglary or an assault there is little chance it will be followed up. To be fair traffic policing has improved! Whenever you want service from the Police or whatever organisation it just isn't there. Why do I not feel safe in this country?
James, SE Cornwall, UK

There is not one party that can cut crime, since the election was announced I have seen about a dozen police officers on foot in my area whereas before not one was seen. Could it be that crime figures have fallen because unless someone needs an incident number for the crime they are not bothering to report it?
Dean Stockton, York UK

There is not a problem with having too few police: there is a problem with lenient JPs and judges. Until criminals get properly sentenced, they'll just carry on committing crimes.
Paul, Southampton, UK

Another set of figures that many people do not believe. Why do people still trust politicians?
Ian Morgan, UK

"Community policing for the real world" sounds like yet another empty catchphrase cooked up by spin doctors and focus groups. The idea that the police should stop people fearing crime is ridiculous. The police should be working to stop crimes and catch criminals. That's their job. If people in this country are unrealistically scared of crime when in fact it's fairly low, that's their own problem, and could be changed by simply taking a more positive/realistic outlook, or reading less scare-mongering newspapers.
Andrew Tulloch, London, UK

Any party can cut crime if they do sensible things, including: more real police rather than the plastic type; less police and CPS bureaucracy; less immigration by people who bring their crime with them; no fiddling of crime statistics (in which Labour specialise).
David Ball, Wokingham

Why is it I see police on traffic duty everywhere, but I have never seen one "on the beat" patrolling the area in which I live? Why do we have speed cameras everywhere, yet my local police station is now only manned a few mornings a week? Do criminals only work part time now? Why did the police say they were too busy to investigate my burglary and had little chance of catching the criminals, yet could afford to spend two man hours telling me about the dangers of my personalized number plate? Seems to me we don't need more police, but we need a government who can better tell them what their priorities ought to be.
Lawrence, Crowthorne

Good to see that crime is still falling, and I hope the media reporting of it will be accurate - rather than showing a load of old CCTV footage which puts fear into people. If the police were better organised, crime would probably be even lower.
Matt, London

The problem is not an increase in crime but that crime is becoming progressively more violent
Alex, Leicester
Since crime has fallen, but violent crime has risen, it looks like Labour has done a fairly good job. The problem at hand is not an increase in crime but that crime is becoming progressively more violent. That some communities are nevertheless feeling an increase in crime implies it is becoming more localised. As this is probably on the poor sink estates that usually bear the brunt of most social problems, middle-class Tory voters shaking in their homes need not worry.
Alex, Leicester

If the police did the job in the manner in which it used to be done they would have the support of the public and crime would start to go down. However that is not the whole solution, society now has an element that shows no respect for others and moral standards are in decline. We need to turn the clock back if we are to salvage something from this mess and stop Britain sinking into a cess pit.
Peter Johnson, Blackburn England

I took part in the British Crime Survey and the only reason it shows that violent crime is falling is because they didn't ask the right questions. I took part so I know what was asked and what was written down.
Maxine, UK

Most crimes are either not reported or the so-called police give the standard reply of "We're too busy, here's an incident number for your insurers" and of course another crime doesn't get reported - or solved. Worse is, the criminal continues to commit crimes and knows he/she is being allowed to do so.
NH, Cheltenham, England

I think the focus should be about toughness on the root of crime
Jon Rice, Bristol, UK

I think the focus should be about toughness on the root of crime and tackle issues such as poverty, boredom for teenagers, drugs, class, racism etc. because as long as people are just locked up nothing will change. That isn't a deterrent to most criminals because they feel that they have nothing to lose anyway. We need to find out why people are committing these crimes and what we can do to stop them.
Jon Rice, Bristol, UK

To be frank, the government can come up with whatever statistic it wants to and it will be met. Recent experiences with immigration and asylum, NHS waiting times, unemployment etc. show that schemes and fiddles will be created to make sure the targets are met.
Terry, London, UK

Why should we believe the Labour Party's claim to reduce crime by 15%? They haven't managed it in the last two terms so why on earth should we believe they can do it in the next? How come they still blame the previous government for all their woes - surely by now, after two terms, these woes are their own doing? How long do they need in power before they accept responsibility?
Ged Norton, Westbury, UK

Woefully inadequate sentencing makes a mockery of justice
Sunil Patel, London

None of the parties has the best policy. Even if we doubled the number of police they do not have the law on their side to arrest or even discipline louts (of both sexes). Woefully inadequate sentencing makes a mockery of justice. Verbal abuse, physical attacks, drugs, burglaries etc. are commonplace. Litter throwing, graffiti, foul language, non-existent manners are the norm.

The reclamation of any kind of decent standards is way beyond the politicians and currently impossible for the police to enforce. Why should the louts and hooligans fear the police or the courts when they get off so lightly? Any party that could speedily introduce laws and procedures with teeth would be the one that people would vote for but such a party doesn't exist.
Sunil Patel, London

A drop in overall crime since 1997 is not something to be sniffed at. Even though the Tories are shouting at an increase in certain types of crime, to be honest I'm glad it's these type of things we're arguing about. Would anyone rather it was an overall increase in crime or perhaps high unemployment? I don't like a lot of things Labour have done, but you've got to give them credit where it's due.
Adam, London

It's all good and well Labour saying they will cut crime by 15%, what they don't say is how they will do it. Crime has fallen over the last decade, but that has nothing to do with Labour, it is to do with hard work of police officers and the increasing role of intelligence analysts and the national intelligence model. Why aren't Labour talking about how to reduce crime, not how to reduce statistics?
TM, Birmingham

I don't trust any of the main parties to be tough on crime
Jonathan, Nottingham

I don't trust any of the main parties to be tough on crime - the fact is that both Labour and the Conservatives have systematically removed any idea of punishment from the system - they don't even want to send criminals to prison now, all that they talk about is tagging and Community Support Officers. Labour is living in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to crime - how can they be trusted when, under their period in office gun, knife and drug related crime has exploded.
Jonathan, Nottingham

CSOs are not the answer in cutting crime. CSOs are policing on the cheap. The answer lies in freeing police from pointless paperwork. I have to fill in forms in duplicate for simple arrests which can take hours. The courts also need to impose sentences that actually mean something.

Too many times a career criminal gets a paltry 100 hour community order for burglary and assaulting police officers! The country needs a government free from fear of being harassed by civil liberty groups and needs to put the majority of honest citizens first and not the minority of criminals.
A, Gillingham





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