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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 18:22 GMT
Conservatives: Home affairs

Find out more about Conservative policies on home affairs.


POLICING

William Hague has pledged to give the police "the backing they deserve so that there is less PC [political correctness] and more PCs."

The party is committed to restoring police numbers to the levels of the last Conservative government - a minimum of an additional 3,000 officers.

This includes a pledge for appropriate resources for the protection of rural communities.

The party supports what it calls "visible policing" and suggests that one way would be to introduce a "cops in shops" initiative, "getting paperwork done n visible places on the beat, not in the station".

A Conservative government would undertake a review of police functions in an aim to cut bureaucracy.

One proposal already put forward would be for arresting officers to hand over suspects to civilian custody personnel for interviews and other matters so that they could return to their patrols more quickly.

Victims should be assigned a "named officer" so that they have direct access to whoever is investigating a crime against them. A similar scheme would cover members of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Conservatives has previously proposed setting up a national police cadet force to help teenagers get a better idea of policing work, though this does not appear in the manifesto.


CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE

William Hague says liberal thinking that links offending to social and economic trends is to blame for a national failure to tackle crime levels.

He says that crime is something that one person chooses to do to another person and criminals are not victims of society.

Mr Hague says that his party's policy is to strengthen sentencing laws to make people "too scared" to commit crimes.

The party's major policies include:

  • Allowing victims seeking a private prosecution access to police statements.
  • Changing the law in the wake of the Tony Martin murder case to better back people who protect their homes and their families against crime.
  • Introducing 'honesty in sentencing' - limiting sentence discounts and making criminals serve the full term given by a judge.
  • Extending mandatory prison terms and considering life supervision for some sexual offences against children.
  • Examining reform of double jeopardy - the rule which prevents someone being tried twice for the same crime
  • More secure training places for young offenders with release dates linked to good behaviour and educational targets.

    The party says that it would increase ten-fold the number of secure training places for youth offenders and ensure that prisoners to a proper day's work rather than sit in their cells.

    Any proceeds from this work would help pay for victim reparations.


    RACE RELATIONS AND EQUALITY

    The Conservative Party says that there should be no place in society for racial discrimination. But the party also argues that legislation designed to tackle racism within the police and other public bodies should be workable.

    William Hague has expressed concerns that the police have entered a crisis of confidence following the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

    The party has also predicted that the Immigration Service may be subjected to more appeals or legal action on grounds of alleged racial discrimination if some cases are turned down.


    ASYLUM SEEKERS

    The Conservative's local election manifesto of May 2000 said: "Britain has centuries of tradition as a safe haven for genuine refugees, but Labour have made this country a 'soft touch' for the organised asylum racketeers, who are flooding our country with bogus asylum seekers."

    The Conservatives have proposed detaining asylum seekers in secure accommodation where they have arrived from countries deemed "safe" by the government.

    The party also proposes a removals agency to ensure that those who are refused asylum would be removed from the country.

    The party believes that the decision-making process can be further speeded up and will include automatic denials of asylum in virtually all cases involving applicants from the safe nations list.


    DRUGS

    The party has pledged to "update the law" to give the police and courts the powers which they need to act against small-scale drug dealers.

    It believes that relaxing the laws for cannabis users will only lead to more people graduating onto harder drugs.

    It will introduce mandatory sentences for dealers who sell hard drugs to children. William Hague suggested in 1999 that a life sentence would be appropriate for a second offence of selling drugs to children.

    The party would also introduce stiffer penalties for drug offending near to schools.

    The party has pulled back from a policy announced at its 2000 conference of mandatory 100 fines for possession of cannabis. This has not been included in the final 2001 election manifesto.

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