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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 13:43 GMT
Labour: Home affairs

Find out more about Labour party policies on home affairs.


Labour says over the lifetime of the parliament it has devoted an extra 450m to recruit 9,000 police.

Taking into account the number of officers who have left since 1997, the party says that the second tranche of recruitment investment - 4,000 of the 9,000 officers - would lead to a historic high in police numbers by 2004.

The party says that its policies in government mean that the police budget will be 9.3bn by 2003-04, representing an extra 1.6bn per year for three years. This will include a major equipment modernisation programme.

In government, Labour launched a 7m national recruitment campaign and says that in its first four months alone it attracted 57,000 inquiries from the potential recruits.

Labour in government began reform to the Police Complaints Authority.

The move, prompted by a recommendation of the Macpherson Inquiry into the killing of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, means that the authority will be distanced from police forces and will have a greater civilian involvement in overseeing investigations.

Labour wants to change the rules governing the reporting of crime to allow the public to report incidents at mobile police stations - and minor incidents electronically over the internet.

The party has pledged more investment for policing training in crime detection.

The party says that it wants to go ahead with pilot schemes that would give some security or patrol staff from private firms some of the powers of police constables.

The party also supports the introduction of a new grade of "superbobby" to reward highly skilled police officers who remain on the beat.


Labour says that one of its key "ambitions for Britain" is to "reform the criminal justice system at every level so that criminals are caught, punished and rehabilitated".

Its ten year goal for crime is to halve the burglary rate and double the chance of a persistent offender being dealt with.

Since taking office in 1997, the party says that it has doubled expenditure on services for victims of crime to 25m, through the national charity Victim Support.

In government, Labour pledged that there would be victim support services in every magistrates's court in the country by April 2002.

Labour says that it will bring forward proposals for a Victims' Rights Bill which would give victims clearly stated rights in areas including compensation and levels of expected treatment by criminal justice agencies.

Labour has also pledged to increase payments made to victims of crime, particularly victims of child sex abuse, serious sexual offences and multiple serious injury, through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

Labour launched a new strategy called "Fighting Violent Crime Together" in January 2001 after official figures showed a rise in violent crime and muggings.

One proposal is for mobile phone manufacturers to ensure that stolen phones can be rendered inoperable.

One new measure announced for the general election is the expanding of a youth "community payback" scheme, to replace the "failed policy" of relying heavily on repeat financial penalties.

The party says the scheme would force young criminals to make amends for the damage they have done, such as repairing damaged property - while linking good behaviour to a rewards system.

The party predicts that youth offending teams will track the behaviour of 2,500 of the most persistent young criminals "24 hours a day" In government Labour brought forward significant changes to police powers including the right to hold DNA evidence and what it says are tougher powers to order the immediate closure of pubs where behaviour is threatening public order.

Among the measures before Parliament in the final session before the general election were:

  • Extra powers for police to tackle public disorder through fixed penalty fines
  • Widening the child curfew and tagging scheme
  • Giving police immediate arrest powers over kerb crawlers and hit-and-run drivers
  • Enabling the Inland Revenue to better assist police investigations

    Labour says that the legislation it introduced since 1997 has improved the police's ability to fight anti-social crime, the majority of offences suffered by people in urban areas.

    Measures introduced include:

  • Anti-social behaviour orders enforceable with u to five years imprisonment
  • Measures to immediately refer offenders known to use drugs to rehabilitation schemes
  • Parenting orders to make adults take responsibility for the actions of their children
  • Youth offending teams comprising police, social and education services and others aiming to halt the slide of young people into criminality
  • Child safety orders which allow local authorities to seek the backing of the courts where it is believed they need to act to prevent a slide into offending
  • Reform of Doli Incapax - the legal convention which assumed that 10-13 year-olds didn't know right from wrong

    Criminal justice reform

    Labour says that it accepts the argument that there are not enough prosecutors in the UK. It has pledged to recruit 300 new prosecutors by 2004. Labour is expected to accept the outcome of a special review of the criminal courts which is likely to recommend a new intermediate tier of courts without juries.

    This intermediate tier will comprise a judge sitting with two magistrates and will hear cases more serious than those dealt with at magistrate court level but deemed not serious enough to go before full jury trials. The new tier is planned to speed up the dealing with offences.

    While still in government, Labour said that it would consider reforming the magistrates court system to hear cases at night and at weekends to speed up the criminal justice system, particularly in reference to drugs-related youth offending.

    The party remains committed to abolishing the automatic right to a jury trial for defendants in "either way" cases - those that can be dealt with either summarily by magistrates or after indictment to a crown court.

    The party wants judges to be able to take greater account of offenders' records when passing sentence and have stiffer penalties at their disposal to tackle bail offenders.

    While in government, the party had not yet given its reponse to a Law Commission recommendation to reform double jeopardy.

    Prisons policy

    Labour pledges to introduce 2,660 additional prison places and 400 places in secure training centres for young offenders. The party proposes to create 3000 more high-security prison and hospital places for the most dangerouns offenders with severe personality disorders.

    At the same time, the party wants to see 50% more prisoners completing offending behaviour programmes in an attempt to end the "revolving door" of justice where many released prisoners fall immediately back into crime.

    Young offenders will get a minimum of 30 hours a week of education or training to break the cycle of criminality, the party says.


    Labour has said that it has led the modernisation of the UK's race relations legislation since it came to power in 1997.

    The party in government ordered the inquiry into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence months after taking power.

    Subsequent to that report, Labour says that it acted on the recommendations by amending the Race Relations Act which now covers discrimination by public bodies. The legislation is coming into force at the moment.

    The party also says that its Crime & Disorder Act 1998 helped the cause of tackling race crimes by making racially aggravated violence and harassment specific named offences.

    Labour in government incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, meaning that there is now a statutory protection of the individual against prejudice by public bodies - and an expectation that public bodies will positively act to meet the needs of equality.

    Gay rights

    Labour legislated to equalise the age of consent at 16 for all people within the UK.

    However, it failed to end the controversy over Section 28, legislation which prevents local authorities and schools "promoting homosexuality".

    Gay rights campaigners say that it not only prevents teachers explaining the issues to pupils, including effective health education.

    The party's 2001 manifesto says that its attempts to repeal Section 28, blocked by the House of Lords, was "grossly misrepresented as an attempt to use teaching to promote particular lifestyles".

    The party says that it would remove "discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation". Section 28 is not specifically mentioned, as with the 1997 manifesto.


    Labour in government has sought to deal with asylum with legislation which it says makes the system "firmer, faster and fairer".

    The government introduced a vouchers system rather than social security payments for asylum seekers.

    The government diverted 600m to helping clear the backlog of applicants and has set a target of dealing with three-quarters of applications within two months by 2004.

    The party's 2000 conference agreed that the government should keep the workings of its new asylum arrangements, including the voucher system and the national dispersal system "under close scrutiny" so that it could "rectify any negative consequences".

    The review has so far proposed scrapping the policy that prevents asylum seekers getting change from spending vouchers.


    The Labour party in government introduced a 10-year strategy for tackling drugs, headed by a national anti-drugs co-ordinator, the so-called "drugs czar".

    In 1998 the government committed 217 million over three years for health, local authority and criminal justice programmes to reduce drug use.

    The party is committed to meeting a number of key targets to reduce drug use and its availability.

  • To reduce the proportion of young people using heroin and cocaine by 25% by 2005 and by 50% by 2008.
  • To reduce drug related exclusions from schools by one third by 2002.
  • To reduce the number of 11-16 year olds using Class A drugs by 20% by 2002.
  • To reduce the levels of repeat offending amongst drug misusing offenders by 25% by 2005 and by 50% by 2008.

  • To reduce the proportion of arrestees testing positive for Class A drugs from 18% (1998/9 baseline) to 15% by 2002.

  • To increase the participation of problem drug misusers, including prisoners, in drug treatment programmes which have a positive impact on health and crime by 66% by 2005 and by 100% by 2008.

  • To reduce access amongst young people to all drugs significantly, and to heroin and cocaine in particular by 25% by 2005 and by 50% by 2008.


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