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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
How safe do you feel in Britain?

Four years after Labour was elected promising to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, the issue is back at the top of the agenda.

Labour say crime has fallen and police recruitment is up, the Conservatives say violent crime is rising and police morale is at an all-time low.

The Liberal Democrats say they would employ 6,000 new police officers and carry out a national crime audit to see what are the most effective crime prevention measures.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Tony Martin, the Norfolk farmer jailed for life for shooting dead a 16 year-old intruder at his remote farm attacked Labour and Conservative policies towards law and order, and said the police needed greater powers.

Which party has the policies to make you feel safer? Is crime one of the major electoral issues for you? Are more police officers the only solution, or do they need greater powers to stop crime?

Have Your Say

In answer to your questions. 1. None of the parties. 2.Yes, it certainly is. 3. More police is not the solution. The solution is more EFFECTIVE use of existing resources. 4. No. The police do not need, nor should they be given greater powers. They already have more powers than they should have. What is needed is more EFFECTIVE use of those powers.
Simon Merritt. Grimsby, UK

I agree with the American gentleman - Tony Martin shot a boy in the back while he was running away. Since when did we start listening to convicted felons for advice on our crime policy?
Chris, UK


Crime is over-dramatised in the media

Simeon, Salford
Although I live in an urban environment associated with crime(Salford has the highest car thefts in England etc, etc) I think crime is over-dramatised in the media. Any society will have an element of wrong-doers and I know from being a regular victim. However what I feel is the problem is that most taxpayers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Maybe the police force should be privatised and accountable to shareholders. Look what it did for BT.
Simeon, Salford

Most people want to choose the laws they obey. Motorists flout the law as a matter of course: speeding is directly attributable to a large proportion of the thousands killed every year but most will consider this an acceptable loss for their convenience. Police participate in this "acceptable violence" by driving around at high speed rather than walking. "Rapid response" will be the cry; well anyone who has been the victim of crime will know how slow the police are to react.
Richard , London


All three main political parties are guilty of reducing the crime debate to a matter of police numbers

Justine Fernandes, London, UK
As a nation we used to be bound together by an NHS, a social security net and a decent education system, amongst other things. I grew up in this country believing that we were all equal, regardless of social status and money. Over the years, this was replaced by an 'I'm all right Jack' attitude where if you yourself were unable to pay, you could not expect quality healthcare, schooling, housing etc. No wonder we have lost our sense of community and togetherness. No wonder many young people care about no-one but themselves. All three main political parties are guilty of reducing the crime debate to a matter of police numbers, although the lib-dems' manifesto goes some way to dealing with the wider social problems.
Justine Fernandes, London, UK

As an ex-police officer myself, I should point out that the CPS and legal system actually go ahead and prosecute cases; police officers merely collate the evidence. Mind you, it's difficult to respond to a 999 call when you are 10 miles away from the reported incident, on foot, because you have been told at the beginning of your shift that there are no vehicles available. I know a large number of police officers in the US, and things are undoubtedly more violent there. Friends of mine carry two firearms on duty in certain areas in NYC; and contrary to public opinion, in a recent survey over 80% of UK police officers still believed we should not be overtly armed for routine duties. My answer? A reform of the entire legal system, and more available money for UK police forces, hence more officers, more vehicles, better public opinion, etc.
Al, Newcastle, UK

The fear of crime is far greater than the chance of actually suffering crime in the UK. This state of affairs has not been helped by the scare mongering of the tabloid press and numerous "true-crime" type TV programmes which does nothing but create an atmosphere of crime and fear. As it is, the police have been given powers well beyond what is necessary for apprehending criminals, by successive governments (the 1994 Criminal Justice Act and the current Terrorism Act are just 2 examples). What is needed is an attack on the social causes of crime - unemployment, poor housing, and a growing gap between rich and poor.
Paul Gorman, Peterborough UK

Paul Gorman thinks that we need to attack the social cause of crime, a growing gap between rich and poor. However in absolute terms the poor are much richer than people in the 30s, able to afford consumer goods like satellite TV and expensive trainers. You rarely see teenagers today without the latest fashions and mobile phones. They are the ultimate instant satisfaction consumerists who feel it is ok to steal from others instead of working and saving up for something. This is the politics of envy: moral values and harsh punishments need to be restored to society.
Steve, London, UK


The rise in crime that we are experiencing at the moment is the result of policies introduced by Thatcher in the 80s

Schmal, Swansea, West Glam, UK
The rise in crime that we are experiencing at the moment is the result of policies introduced by Thatcher in the 80s. There is always a hysteresis between political actions and social outcomes. Poor education, the vast increase in unemployment, the abandoning of quality apprenticeships where kids were introduced to the adult world, working with adults as their role models - all are contributory factors to crime today. Pop culture, the dumbing-down of education and TV broadcasts have left us with a generation of selfish airheads who are too doped out on additives and aspartame-laden drinks to think about their actions.
Schmal, Swansea, West Glam, UK

The crime is one matter. The suppression of the political ideals which, if followed, would rid us of crime once and for all is a far more un-progressive and criminal matter, and should be given more consideration. The Anti-Terrorism Act is crime in itself and is a step towards outlawing the true politics of socialism and communism which New Labour has attacked full on far beyond the last election.
Benj'min Mossop, London, UK

There is too much vomiting in Leicester Square. I blame the parents.
Mark Williams, Hurstbourne Priors, UK

Bleeding heart liberals (like the BBC) try to silence people who want real law-and-order in this country by attacking us with childish names like "the hang 'em brigade". I'm happy to say that such attempts at brainwashing are backfiring. People want tough sentences for repeat offenders in this country. It's quite simple really: we want to protect our families and feel safe when we walk the streets and when we sleep in our beds. Why the BBC and The Guardian don't understand that is a mystery to me.
Dean Cox, Bristol, England


Convicted criminals with two or more indictments should be tattoo-ed on the forehead

Dave, West Midlands, UK
All convicted criminals with two or more indictments should be tattoo-ed on the forehead with the letter appropriate to their crime e.g. "B" for burglar. That would eliminate a lot of today's crime, while identifying it to the public.
Dave, West Midlands, UK

Last week the gang of crooks who introduced thousands of tons of chicken condemned as unfit for human consumption into the food chain - netting themselves millions of pounds in the process - had their sentences reduced by the appeal court. No-one will ever know how many people were made ill by their actions...
Carleton, Doncaster, UK

When is Labour going to crack down on this yobbo culture that allows underage youths to get drunk and cause a lot of damage to property? They have got to start charging the parents for this damage. It is a disgrace.
David Stobo, Paisley, Scotland


Criminals are just laughing at the sentences!

Andrew, Aberdeen
At the local Sheriff's Court I watched a burglar who broke into my flat being remanded in custody. While I was there were several other cases going through. One involved shoplifter caught stealing whisky and spirits from a shop. When chased by a shop assistant, he pulled a syringe and threatened the assistant with it. The Sheriff said this type of incident was happening too often these days and as an example and deterrent was going to impose the maximum sentence for this offence, two months. Criminals are just laughing at the sentences!
Andrew, Aberdeen, Scotland

Given the recent debacle about policemen shooting an unarmed innocent man and getting away with it, isn't it evident that arming the police is a dangerously irresponsible proposal. It might seem an easy solution to lock everyone up and impose harsher and harsher penalties, but it plainly doesn't stop crimes from happening, it merely gets some of the more stupid criminals out of circulation temporarily. It doesn't matter how harsh you make the punishment, people being made to understand the consequences of our actions and take responsibility for them is fair and works. More of that and less of the reactionary huffing and puffing!
Ben, Southampton


Criminals are treated with a life of luxury in prison and then released early

Darren Flight, Peterborough
'Commit the crime face the time' should be the Governments motto. Instead criminals are treated with a life of luxury in prison and then released early to commit more crime. Over the past 4 years I have seen a dramatic shift towards the victim being treated as the villain whilst the criminals of society get a slap on the wrist from dithering 65 year old judges who do not really have a clue about the country we live in today.
Darren Flight, Peterborough

So Mark T believes all drugs should be legal and by the sound of it free on the NHS. Well the great misery for alcoholics is the cost of their addiction, so lets have super lager and fortified wine free on the NHS and whilst we're at it let's give cigarettes out free as well.
Gerry, Scotland


Place police snipers on the rooftops in all major crime spots

Ed, London
Place police snipers on the rooftops in all major crime spots. If we are prepared to mobilise a massive Army operation to kill animals in order to prevent them dying, why not redirect the resources to the inner cities? If you commit a violent crime you are subject to a violent response. Simple, yet highly effective. Joking apart, how can anyone honestly have any fear or respect for the laws and courts of this land, when the Government authorises the mass early release of people (term used loosely) responsible for what is one of the most despicable crimes there is, that of terrorism.
Ed, London

Less paper work and a more visible police presence is a more obvious approach.
James Hodgson, Southampton England

If one commits a serious enough crime to have ones liberty removed then only basic rights should be given. Not colour TV's, safari holidays, or trips to the local cinema, just food, shelter and sanitation. Treats, as all good parents know, need to be earned.
RWS, UK

'Commit the crime face the time' should be the Governments motto. Instead criminals are treated with a life of luxury in prison and then released early to commit more crime. Over the past 4 years I have seen a dramatic shift towards the victim being treated as the villain whilst the criminals of society get a slap on the wrist from dithering 65 year old judges who do not have a clue about the country we live in today.
Darren Flight, Peterborough


Why should criminals expect to take whatever they want

Neil, Richmond, London
Why people cannot protect their property and family in a manner, which befits the situation, will always be an issue. Why should criminals expect to take whatever they want and have the peace of mind to know the police will not intervene, as it could be "too dangerous"?
Neil, Richmond, London

Is it any wonder that gangs of young people roam around looking for trouble? Doesn't anyone remember how boring it is when you are on the threshold of adulthood only to be told that you are not old enough to drink, not old enough to go in a pub and too old to go to youth clubs? What is there for the youth of today to do for fun? Crime is not a black and white issue. People are rarely pure evil, there's mitigating circumstances to consider in all crimes and being tough on all crime will not work.
JJ, Berkshire, UK

With local police gaining commission on the number of speed convictions they gain, I can see the strapped for cash Chief Constables pulling cars from patrols to man speed traps. Speeding on an urban street is obviously dangerous. Speeding on a quiet motorway is not really a problem. It's about time we got our priorities right.
Paul, London


The fact that many Americans are armed deters crime greatly

W.S.Jaworski, USA
There is nothing more terrifying than the thought of someone entering my home with intentions of harming my family or myself. The fact that the police are often incapable of responding in time to either save my life from a burglar or murderer means that I need to take responsibility of protecting my home. This means being armed and prepared. The fact that many Americans are armed (estimated that we have over 200 million guns here) I think deters crime greatly.
W. S. Jaworski, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Regarding W.S.Jaworski from Albuquerque's comments: Don't you think any potential transgressors into your home may be more inclined to carry heavy firepower and more inclined to hurt you or your family, knowing that they are likely to meet deadly resistance from you? Having a gun culture makes you all more vulnerable not less!!
Dan, Worcester, England

I find it incomprehensible that people would argue in favour of American attitudes towards law enforcement. London may have more crime than New York, but it is still worth remembering that New York's yearly homicide rate is almost always larger than that of the entire UK by a factor of two. Zero tolerance, and the arming of householders, has not helped to reduce the crime rate in the United States. And to the defenders of Tony Martin: he shot a teenager in the back. He will get no sympathy from me.
Huw Bowen, Denver, USA (from UK)

The economy is booming. Unemployment is at its lowest level in years. There is no real poverty in Britain. Yet violent crime is up. The figures on theft may be down, but this is due to a combination of fiddling the statistics and better home and car security. Successive governments have encouraged a "something-for-nothing" culture. If you don't have to work to support your kids, why should you have to work to get a DVD? To cut crime we need to abolish the welfare culture.
David, Bristol, UK

I don't feel afraid of crime at all, I think in this country we need to get far less paranoid and more realistic. We actually have a pretty safe society where the fear of crime is far worse than the reality of places like the good old US of A. I'd really like to see Labour when they get back in tackling the causes of crime, such as social deprivation and poverty, and reducing the gap between rich and poor.
Adrian Allabarton, Cardiff, UK

The police should be embarrassed by their role as tax collectors from speeding motorists, whilst the police chiefs should put up strong resistance to the government's tax collecting activities and try and build up enough intelligence to know what criminals are doing what crimes in their locality in order to bring a few of them to justice.
Adrian Hall, Chippenham,UK


Why don't the police chiefs announce a crackdown on real criminals, and impose a quota system for catching burglars and muggers?

D Thorpe, Hayes, Middlesex
I strongly suspect that politicians, and especially Labour ones, only pretend to be tough on crime, and do not really wish to control or reduce crime. A flourishing crime rate, together with successful criminals, provides politicians with the excuse to increase the numerical and diverse strength of the police force, which can then be used against the general public when the government of the day decides it is ready to take full control of us within, an as yet hidden police state. A look at the large numbers of fully prepared, and very well equipped police officers that were magically made available to control the May protestors in London this month is a case in point. How can so many heavily equipped police officers suddenly be made available to police such an event, when there is rarely a police officer available when we genuinely require one? The recent announcement that police chiefs are requiring their officers to "catch" a quota of 'speeding drivers' is another indication of the real purpose of the police force; which appears to be the control and taxation of the mainly law abiding citizen. Why don't the police chiefs announce a crackdown on real criminals, and impose a quota system for catching burglars and muggers etc? After all, it is the fear of street crime that prevents so many people from going out of their homes at night, not the traffic doing 35 miles per hour on a perfectly good road in bright sunlight (where conditions permit of course).
D Thorpe, Hayes, Middlesex

I'm fed up with all the do-gooders in this country. People have a choice - either don't commit crime, or commit a crime and face the consequences. I'm prepared to pay the tax to take these wasters out of society or to re-house them away from me and near the do-gooders. Perhaps some 'good doing' will rub off on these criminals. Why do these do-gooders have such an influence? Judging by the postings here most people just want straight justice, not this cradling and nurturing of criminal scum. If one party stood up and faced these issues with more money and zero tolerance, instead of twisting statistics maybe we could live in a country with a lot less crime.
Scott R Ranger, Peterborough, England

We need to take away power from those people who come up with bizarre arguments such as 'poverty is not owning a TV' and 'crime (particularly theft) is a symptom of poverty'. There is very little (if any) real poverty in the UK and those who commit crimes in the UK have no excuse. It would be a step in the right direction if children were taught this key fact.
Chris, UK

Crime is a problem, but the cities are still far worse than rural areas - people are still leaving cities for the country, not the other way round. More police would be welcome, but will not solve the problem on their own, regardless of number or whatever hysterically draconian punishments Anne Widdecombe dreams up. Remember, crime levels were probably worse, proportionately, when we had capital punishment for over 250 crimes. There is no quick fix - it will need a co-ordinated package of social and legal measures. One thing this government has usefully done is cut youth unemployment, and it should continue with these efforts.
Geoff Batchelor, Bradford, UK


To take reasonable precautions to prevent the crimes that I know have happened recently would involve never leaving the house

ZA, London, UK
I live in a respectable area of South London and have seen a dramatic increase in street crime in my area in the last 4 years. I don't agree with CB of London that if you take reasonable precautions that you will never be a victim of crime. I like many others in my area are street wise. To take reasonable precautions to prevent the crimes that I know of that have happened recently would involve never leaving the house alone on foot, day or night, even to get into a car - let alone walking to the bus stop, carrying a bag or heaven forbid using a mobile phone on the street. London is now officially more dangerous than New York with the same number of residents and half as many police. At a recent crime prevention meeting in our area, attended by 2 police officers, one of the attendees had to leave because her partner had just been robbed outside the meeting. A local council estate has been reduced to employing a private security firm. It would be great to change society but we need to deal with the generation that are out on the streets now. They know they can get away with 'murder'. We need a more effective police force, and we need more of them.
ZA, London, UK

This is a very safe country compared to most, and if you take simple precautions you are unlikely to ever be a victim of serious crime. Of course we should reduce what crime there is - but prevention is better than cure. Visible policing is one way, but CCTV cameras and more use of tagging would allow police to use more valuable skills than standing around in a uniform acting as a deterrent. There are many highly trained police who work very well with social services/ homeless groups/ drug addiction centres/ community action groups etc... this is much higher value work, which aims to tackle the underlying causes of crime.
CB, London


If someone's in his property stealing in the dead of night and winds up dead, tough!

Mike, Harlow, England
The householder has a fundamental right to protect his property using force if necessary. He should not be expected to have to judge the level of force needed. If someone's in his property stealing in the dead of night and winds up dead, tough!
Mike, Harlow, England

I have also looked at the benefits of legalising drugs, but look what happened with tobacco. Prices have increased over the years and the government are making large amounts of money yet still can't afford the health service for those who have smoking related diseases. What will happen with drugs? As to giving people fines for being caught with drugs, what a waste of time!! Addicts who can hardly afford their habit will probably commit more crime to pay off fines. With reference to Rob Nelson's comment, you have to remember a lot of the users are caught up in something that eventually they lose control of. These people are addicts and need support and help, not to be called 'Trash'!!
Lindsay, Cambs, U.K

There seems to be a major emphasis on punishing criminals but studies and experience show that punishment alone does not stop people re-offending. There must be some element of rehabilitation or else people just serve out their time and then come out and re-offend. During the fuss about early release I was amazed that nobody in the media challenged the Tories to explain why, if the early release scheme wasn't working, the re-offending rate amongst people released under this scheme was 3% when the normal rate of re-offending is something over 50%. There has to be a belief that people can be reformed or else we might as well all give up now.
Graham Brown, Fareham, England

In some parts of south London you hardly ever see any community policing. There is lack of a sense of community and opportunity for some. Women and the elderly are at risk. Society has changed and with these attitudes even some of the children are into crime. The main areas of concern in south London are drugs, mugging and sexual attack and house theft. People who live in some of these areas struggle as it is a high unemployment area. There is a lack of facilities and the local council are incompetent. There seems to be a politics of look after number one.
Susan Clayton, London, England


People will begin to feel motivated to do something themselves. Disorder is closer than some people think

Clive, UK
I am a quiet sort of person who lives in an ideal village in Surrey. I know my chances of being a victim of crime are low according to the stats, but just how long do I put up with my car being broken into, my garden lights smashed, my fence kicked in? I feel intimidated by yobs that hang around the village damaging cars and property. They're known to police and neighbourhood watch, but there's no one there to police the village in day or evening! I am trusting Labour to stick to "tough on the causes of crime". If they fail in the next term to solve it, I think many people will begin to feel motivated to do something themselves. Disorder is closer than some people think.
Clive, UK

I am a victim of serious violent crime who, because of his injuries, has not been able to work for the last eighteen months. I can tell you from experience that the police, for various reasons including inadequate staffing levels, are incapable of investigating more than a fraction of serious crimes in this country. When they do they are as likely to lose the evidence, as they are to prosecute criminals even if they were arrested at the scene. Crime is the manifestation of a wide variety of social ills in this country, which largely stem from our apparent unwillingness to spend anything like what is necessary to correct the problems that British society has. Small wonder the spread of voter apathy in such circumstances...
David, England

It's not just a question of feeling safer. I had a security inspector round to check my house six months ago. He pointed out that if a burglar slipped on the loose tiles on one of my windows and fell he could sue me. Does anyone else see that as madness?
A, UK

I am not arguing for a 'liberal panacea', nor am I in favour of a gratuitous over-use of violence, but rather a 'measured response'. This is what is currently established under Common Law. Tony Martin is the wrong example for people to clutch onto: he held an illegal firearm and used it against an individual, shooting that person in the back as he ran away. Admittedly, this young boy was committing an illegal act, but a British court, consisting of Mr Martin's peers, found him to have a wanting defence before the eyes of the law. No one should be above the law.
Mark Whitehouse, Birmingham


The yob culture, which seems to be endemic in Britain today, has made many citizens afraid

Kenneth Jessett, Houston, USA
It is incomprehensible that a man (Tony Martin) defending himself against a violent intruder inside his own home should himself be charged with a crime. It is hypocritical of the Home Secretary to take a "well it's a shame, but there it is" position. The yob culture, which seems to be endemic in Britain today, has made many citizens afraid. One cannot walk through any market town in Britain without witnessing gangs of youths roaming around looking for mischief. It is this more than any other factor which is hurting Britain's image with overseas visitors. It does appear to be safer to walk the streets of New York than those of London.
Kenneth Jessett, Houston, USA

The police should not be given more resources until they make effective use of the resources they have. If the police were paid by results they would be penniless, but they do seem to have cottoned on to the fact that there is more money to be made fining motorists whilst letting serious crime pass them by. The police force (farce?) seems to be riddled with the compensation culture that reduces their credibility even further. A root and branch overhaul of policing in this country is long overdue, but the police themselves seem to be very effective in preventing such a process taking place.
Adrian, Reading, UK


Perhaps if you and your spouses didn't speed, police would have more time to spend on other crimes

Gary Dillon, Harlow, England
Just a quick mention of road traffic law, I notice some people seem to think that police won't deal with "real" crime because they get caught speeding. Just increasing your speed from 30 to 35mph will double the chance you'll kill someone if you hit them. Speed limits are a law like any other, perhaps if you (and your spouses) didn't speed, police would have more time to spend on other crimes. What we need is better education as citizens to reduce crime (including speeding which still costs lives) AND more officers.
Gary Dillon, Harlow, England

As someone who has had a relative killed by a speeding car, I find the complaints about police prosecuting speeding motorists to be highly offensive. Somebody dying or being seriously injured by a speeding motorists is by far a more serious crime than stolen cars etc. if people followed the traffic laws, which are there to protect human life, then there would be more police to fight other crimes. Speeding is a crime which kills people ever year, and unfortunately not just those who are doing the speeding. If people don't like being stopped for speeding, the answer is simple, DON'T.
Phil, London, UK

My 60-year-old baby sitter has been caught and fined twice in the last 3 months for doing 35mph in a 30mph zone. My expectant wife has been fined for doing 45mph in a 40mph zone. Two miles from our house is a gypsy squat where burnt-out stolen cars and litter hide their caravans. Do the police ever take action? No. Old ladies and pregnant women are easier targets. Policing is a joke.
Richard, London, UK


It's this sickening socialist mentality that has increased crime and rendered the policy incapable

Nick, Southampton
Just wondering what all these people that call Mr Martin a "criminal" will do if they suddenly come face to face with two criminals (real ones!) in their very homes. It's this sickening socialist mentality that has increased crime and rendered the policy incapable. Mr Martin should have hid in his bedroom, or even let the criminals beat him to death. This would have been better than life in prison! Unfortunately Mr Martin believed that law and order still exists in this country....
Nick, Southampton

It is quite disgraceful that the BBC provide the person convicted of an unlawful killing, any opportunity to make a statement regarding law and order in our country. The opinion and views of this convicted criminal are to be dismissed as totally worthless.
Trevor, London, UK

The reason this country is short of police is because there is no longer any incentive for young people to become police officers. Last year, an officer in Watford was prosecuted by the parents of a teenage boy who had stolen money from a market cash box and was then chased and caught by a police officer who, in the ensuing scuffle, caught the boy's earring and tore it off. The fact that the boy stabbed the officer's body armour with a pocket-knife was ignored because he did no damage. Had the officer not had body armour on he could have died. Where is the sense in taking on the responsibility of public protection when you are at the mercy of the criminals you pursue? The government needs to knock some sense into the cushy human-rights issues that hamper the police force and then perhaps they will see more people interested in joining the force.
Mr Briggs, London, UK


The police do an excellent job in the circumstances

Peter Warner, London, UK
Who does Tony Martin think he is? He is a convicted criminal. Convicted for the murder of a person running away from his house. He shot him down without a moment's hesitation. The police did their job and the criminal justice system did what was necessary. The police do an excellent job in the circumstances.
Peter Warner, London, UK

For a long while it seems that it pays to commit crime. Those with so little to lose appear to have so much to gain. As always it is ultimately the (innocent) taxpayer who is subsidising this mess.
Serhat, London, England

Police in this country are nothing more than glorified well-paid secretaries.
Sarah Belton, Liverpool, England


In my day we had no street gangs and muggings were unheard of

Harry Rose, San Pedro, USA
Go back to discipline in schools, let teachers administer corporal punishment. In my day we had no street gangs and muggings were unheard of. Every child shuddered at the thought of going to a prison. Juvenile courts administered 6 strokes of the birch. If that system were enforced today there probably would probably not have been a 16-year-old burglar for him to shoot. It might have been cruel but it worked.
Harry Rose, San Pedro, USA

We need more police officers, but with the powers to act. When will the electorate see a practical and enforceable deterrent for the wrongdoers? It is too easy for them, and there are not enough support agencies for the victims of their crimes, least of all from the Government.
Diane Wright, Bournemouth UK

Does Chris Ransom believe this also applies to Gatso (speed) cameras? They cost 32000 each, nearly two PCs wages and I have never seen one chase a stolen car.
Kevin Brown, Coventry UK

I don't see more police on the beat as the most cost-effective solution. CCTV Cameras generally do a far better job. Changes would occur if there were longer sentences for the core of criminals who keep re-offending, with progressively less chance of early release. Judges should hand down sentences that fit the crime and the law should protect anyone defending themselves or their property from attack. I also feel the complete lack of moral guidance in our society today has a lot to do with its problems.
Chris Ransom, Colchester, Essex

Police have become demoralised by the Macpherson report and ill-considered human rights legislation (or the way criminals hide behind it). No wonder they concentrate on catching motorists, who are generally otherwise law abiding and will accept punishment without fuss.
David Morris, Bracknell, UK


They will deter drunken yobs from hooliganism on a Saturday night

Tim, London, UK
Simon Watkins is right that more police won't reduce serious, premeditated crime. But they will deter drunken yobs from hooliganism on a Saturday night.
Tim, London, UK

I'm afraid that the simple fact is that it does not follow that more police means less crime. The average copper on the beat can expect to be within 100 yards of a serious crime only twice in his career, and even then he probably won't see it. I do wish the media, public and politicians wouldn't keep perpetuating this unscientific myth that crime levels are even slightly related to police staff levels.
Simon Watkins, Wales, UK

I feel less at risk from crime than I do from the police. The reason (from personal experience) is due to the underhand way at which the police in this country encourage people to break the law and then turn on them when they do break the law. The police need to be held a bit more accountable for their actions. They are supposed to be upholding the law not abusing it.
Adrian Hall, Chippenham, UK

Reintroduce the pillory for minor local offences. Put more visible police officers on foot patrol. Enforce proper punishments for those convicted of crimes. Stop thinking of the criminals as victims and start treating them as the repugnant individuals that they are.
Zobo Kolonie, Centurion, South Africa (Shortly return to the UK)


I am scared beyond belief of being a victim of crime in this country

Stuart Ford, UK
I am scared beyond belief of being a victim of crime in this country. When it happens (and let's face it, it's more of a matter of 'when' than 'if'), I know that I will have little if any rights as a victim. If the perpetrator of the crime is ever caught (which is unlikely), he'll most likely not get punished at all, let alone be punished to a degree that most sane people would consider reasonable. And then to cap it all I may risk further crime and intimidation from the criminal underworld for even reporting it in the first place. This country is not a good place to be a victim of crime.
Stuart Ford, UK

The law now leans more towards the perpetrator's rights than the victim's. Previous indiscretions are rarely presented to the jury and criminals are rarely punished properly for their acts. Instead they are coddled in prisons with almost better facilities than boarding schools! They should receive hardship for the crimes they have committed. I'm just glad I moved out of London, as there is little police protection against organised criminal units that run the city.
Christopher Martin, Birmingham, UK

I'm more worried about what their 'Big Brother' cameras will be used for than getting mugged. I'm also angry about their obsession with speeding motorists and pot smokers when big business continues to despoil the environment for its own selfish short-term gratification.
P, UK

The death penalty should be brought back and all areas should operate zero tolerance. No-one who commits a crime against another person should feel safe in the knowledge that they are going to get away with it.
Frank, England

I live behind a cricket club that regularly gets vandalised. Each time the alarm goes off I ring the police. More than once I have been asked to check if anyone is at the club. Each time I have refused as I feel that someone vandalising a building could be violent towards a woman. Over the years I have seen evidence that the number of policemen in our area is declining, 7 years ago a police car would always arrive within half an hour, now we are lucky if it arrives within an hour.
Caron, England

I find it difficult to give any credence to the idea that Labour has problems because it "followed Tory spending plans". If the Tory spending plans were not going to work, why use them? This is just another of the raft of excuses for not fixing the crime problems, the health service and the many other things that Labour have failed to do.
Richard, Hull, UK

It's interesting that the Tories should make such a song and dance over Labour releasing criminals early, and then five minutes later go and demand the release of a man who last year went and shot an un-armed teenager when he was running in the opposite direction.
Dave Hartley, Birmingham, UK

When drug addicts need hundreds of pounds a week to obtain drugs and are unable or unwilling to work, they turn to crime. De-criminalize drugs, make them available on the NHS and crime rates would drop dramatically. A lot of police time in the evening is taken up patrolling town centres and dealing with drunks. Changing people's drinking habits would need a shift in the way that we view alcohol. Perhaps a restriction on how it can be advertised would be a good place to start.
Gill, UK

First step to reducing crime is to silence all the do-gooders who think criminals should be treated lightly.
Stewart, Guildford, surrey

Police with guns is what we need...and lots of 'em.
Bab, UK

My wife was recently the victim of a burglary at her place of work (in a major English city) while she was working alone during the evening. She heard the burglar and immediately called the police. The police arrived 3 hours (and several more phone calls) later. When she asked why they had not responded sooner she was told that there were only 4 police officers (who patrol as 2 pairs) to patrol the whole of the city centre, even on a Friday and Saturday night. Fortunately my wife was not attacked but she was extremely frightened. What is clear is that we need many more police officers on the beat and they must be freed from the vast amounts of paperwork to let them get on with the business of protecting the community.
Steve B, England

I feel safer from crime, as figures published here in Strathclyde seem to say the police are doing a good job. Certainly the streets are safer on a weekend night out. What I am truly afraid of is each government in turn using fear of crime as a justification for removing more and more of our freedom, until we find ourselves living in an Orwellian nightmare!
Ian Lowe, Glasgow, Scotland


The public need to have confidence that the Police is not putting itself above the law

Allan, Bedforshire
A radical shake up of the Police Force is needed. The Police should not be allowed to investigate themselves and should be overseen by a completely independent body. The public need to have confidence that the Force is not putting itself above the law. The boorish behaviour at the Police Conference suggests that police forces are not hiring people who are capable of catching today's criminals. Maybe mundane tasks like motoring offences and crowd control should be carried out by private companies hired by local authorities. The real police can then get on with solving the crimes that people worry most about. It's time for the Police to be properly regulated, given clear targets and responsibilities and staffed by able people. The forces should share best practice, have standard procedures and clear out the secret societies.
Allan, Bedforshire

It is more expensive to police by consent in a liberal democracy than it is to introduce draconian police powers. Rather than spend money on more police to get the job done right, Home Secretaries provide dictatorial short cuts to the fewer police we still have, arming them with c.s. gas (Tories) and rubber bullets (Labour) and reducing the rights of the average Joe on the street. This alienates an increasing number of honest people, so the police get less help from the public. Then moral and arrest rates fall, inducing the government to introduce yet another batch of draconian powers. We need to spend considerably more money on the Police Force and to increase starting salaries. Coupled with the restoration of civil liberties, we may eventually get back to a climate where average people respect and obey the law because they believe in it and consent to its policing. I would pay more tax to get my civil rights back.
Jon, London


Should we consider the reintroduction of a form of national service?

Steve Dillon, Croydon
Should we consider the reintroduction of a form of national service to achieve the required level of policing on our streets?
Steve Dillon, Croydon, Surrey

David Webb was the Chief Superintendent in charge of policing the 'angry suburb' of Handsworth in the mid-eighties. He is writing a study about policing problems and methods between 1948 to date. When this is published next year it will lift the lid on the reality of inner city policing. It will also demonstrate the futility of the exchange of statistics between the parties.
Peter Biddulph, Bromsgrove, England

Repeal the Human Rights Act. Make the Police more powerful and less accountable. Introduce Singapore style flogging for all crimes involving unprovoked violence. (But don't bring back the death penalty).
Robert Kemp, Hong Kong

I don't see more police on the beat as the most cost-effective solution. CCTV Cameras generally do a far better job. Changes would occur if there were longer sentences for the core of criminals who keep re-offending, with progressively less chance of early release. Judges should hand down sentences that fit the crime and the law should protect anyone defending themselves or their property from attack. I also feel the complete lack of moral guidance in our society today has a lot to do with its problems.
Chris Ransom, Colchester, Essex

Whatever Labour's detractors might say, four years isn't long enough to deal with problems that the Tories couldn't (or wouldn't) solve in 18 years, especially when Labour stuck to the spending plans of the previous government for the first two years. At least more people are occupied by work after four years of Labour government and therefore less likely to get into mischief.
Steve, UK

There should be more police on the streets - I walk past Dens in my area and the yobs there get away with murder practically, getting drunk, causing distress to us elderly people and being very loud.
Shed Boy, Dundee


Get local bobbies into shop-front offices

Ian, London
Get local bobbies into shop-front offices on the high street so that they seem human, comfortable, non threatening and available for a cup of coffee. Muggers, dealers and prostitutes would think twice about working that street. Share the cost of the office with community/charity groups Bring decent coffee into the area as well.
Ian, London

Of course more police would cut crime. It would also cost more money, which would mean more tax. The Tories cut police numbers, to deliver tax cuts, and Labour has only recently been able to recruit more police owing to two decades of declining salaries and benefits.
Guy Chapman, UK

All this talk of evil liberal policy is terrible. Of course there are social problems behind crime and unless these are addressed crime will never come down regardless of the number of police on the streets. The forces of Conservatism were never successful with their tough on crime approach in the past, so why should it work now? The police need to stop being treated like a political football and be allowed to get on with their jobs, then the government can concentrate on dealing with the real causes of crime.
Tom Skinner, Manchester, UK


The law should be shifted to favour homeowners over burglars

X, UK
I think the law should be shifted to favour homeowners over burglars. At present the police might catch them, in which case the courts let them off and tell them not to do it again.
X, UK

Yes we have to have more Police who should be uniformed officers. An initial increase in numbers will cause the crime rate to rise as the extra officers will deal with more offences. We should aim to have enough visible officers to make it expected to see them walk, or cycle on our streets and estates.
Gary Davies, Cambridge UK.

Yes, more police on the beat would probably reassure the public, but what we really need is a complete review of law and order. Currently if you've nothing to lose you might as well adopt a criminal way of life. At best, you get away with it, and at worst, you get caught and get a roof over your head, and regular meals. I want to see Britain become a place where people are terrified of committing crimes. We need to crush crime with a force never seen before, and that means getting tough.
Francis, England

Crime on the whole may be soaring, but just you dare drive 32mph in a 30...
Neil, London, England

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