Skip to main content
bbc.co.uk
Home
TV
Radio
Talk
Where I Live
A-Z Index

BBC News

BBC Election 2005

Watch the BBC Election News
SERVICES
  • Election news alerts
  • Email services
  • Mobiles/PDAs
  • News for your site
Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Election fact check: Tackling the yobs
THE CLAIM

All three political parties say that increasing the number of police is the key to fighting crime.

The Liberal Democrats want 10,000 more police officers over the life of the next Parliament, Labour wants 25,000 more community support officers, and the Conservatives want 40,000 more police.

Michael Howard said that he wants to tackle the "yob culture" head on, and said it was time to put "fear in the heart of yobs" to give hope to "decent, law-abiding families who do the right thing."

But do more police actually cut crime?

BACKGROUND

The Conservatives have proposed a five point plan to deal with yob culture and binge drinking.

As well as more police, they want to restrict the number of late-night licenses granted to pubs, an end to irresponsible drinks promotions, new powers to tackle late night disorder, and more say for local people.

According to the British Crime Survey, the overall level of crime has dropped from 12.9m in 2000/1 to 11.7m in 2003/4, but violent crime and crime recorded by the police has risen.

The number of police is up 10% since 1999 to 140,000.

THE FACTS

There is no direct connection between the absolute number of police and the rate of crime, according to many criminologists.

Dr Adrian Beck of Leicester University says that increased policing is only one reason for falling crime, while target hardening and the falling value of consumer goods also contribute to lower crime figures.

An increase in police numbers could well lead to increased reporting of crime, he added - which may explain the recent rise in recorded crime.

And more bobbies on the beat, while helping to reassure people, are unlikely to catch criminals in the act.

There is also a problem in defining crime, according to another leading criminologist, Professor Allyson MacVean of the John Grieve Centre for Policing and Community Safety.

She argues that politicians have widened the definition of criminality by including anti-social behaviour some of which might in the past have been defined as a bit of harmless fun (for example, vandalism).

The wider the definition, the harder it will be for the police to control it all, however large their numbers.

She also adds that there are already a large number of powers available to the police and local authorities to control local disorder, ranging from ASBOs to the new licensing laws to curfews in local areas.

And she says that until the new licensing laws are actually implemented, it is difficult to come judge whether they are defective.

THE CONCLUSION

Crime has been a high-profile issue for some time.

Most experts believe that crime rates are actually dropping.

But fear of crime is still strong, even in areas where there is little crime.

So all parties will continue to campaign on being tough on crime.





LINKS TO MORE ISSUES STORIES


 

ISSUES
Issues guide
See where the parties stand with this easy to use guide

ANALYSIS
 

PARTY PROFILES
 

ELECTION QUICK GUIDES
Health
Education
Immigration
Crime

ELECTION FACT CHECK
 

SPECIAL FEATURES


TOP ISSUES STORIES NOW