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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Fighting crime in the 21st century
Peter Gould on crime
BBC News Online correspondent Peter Gould looks at the issues surrounding fighting crime in the UK in the 21st century.

Police and Prisons

British Crime Survey figures show a 10% reduction in offending, yet many people still believe that crime is rising. It's a perception that reinforces the public's desire to see more officers on the streets. But in many areas, policemen and women have been leaving faster than they can be replaced. The next government will have to tackle this as a priority if they are to maintain public confidence.

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Criminal Justice System

Speeding up the justice system is a government priority. The system is under review and in a move designed to overcome the cost of offenders failing to show up in court, the right to a trial by jury could soon be taken away from thousands of defendants. The murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has focused attention on the so-called "double jeopardy" rule - should it be possible for someone found not guilty of a crime to be put on trial for a second time?

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Fighting crime

According to government research, a "hard core" of one hundred thousand offenders is responsible for half of all crime. Curbing these offenders activities is a major challenge, for the police and for policy makers. The use of CCTV is just one of the measures used to monitor criminals but it's clear the public also wants the reassurance of seeing more police officers on their streets. Advances are being made on a national DNA database, which will help the police use the science of "genetic fingerprinting" to solve crime - would this infringe upon civil liberties? or is it a necessary advance?

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