Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Soft on crime? Tough on the victims of crime?

Liberal Democrats want to replace prison with community service.

The political parties in this election have each published a list of promises of how they would run the country if they were elected to power – their manifesto.
The Liberal Democrats want to "introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than six months – replaced by rigorously enforced community sentences”.

What does this actually mean? In 2008 according to the Ministry of Justice, 55,333 people were sent to prison for sentences of less than six months. Under the Liberal Democrats, these people would not have been sent to prison but instead would have been put on community service – remaining free and on our streets.

Criminals could be kept out of jail by these Liberal Democrat proposals even when committing some of these crimes:

Domestic burglary, Small scale class A drug dealers, Breaching ASBOs, Handing stolen goods, Driving offences – drinking and driving for instance, Carrying a knife,
Common assault and assaulting a police officer

We all know crime and anti-social behaviour is a real concern locally. Often calm is only restored to our streets when perpetrators are locked up. The kinds of criminals currently receiving shorter prison sentences are often the ones who cause the most trouble in communities. This Liberal Democrat proposal to scrap short prison sentences would be a disaster for ordinary decent people.

Labour introduced ASBOs because we know how anti-social behaviour can damage the quality of someone’s life – and in our community it can lead to whole areas suffering. We introduced Police Community Support Officers, working within dedicated neighbourhood police teams. We have provided over 26,000 more prison places since 1997. There are more criminals in prison – not because crime is rising but because violent and serious offenders are going to prison for longer. The number of crimes last year was 4,448,273 – the lowest since Labour came to power in 1997.

The Liberal Democrats talk tough but their record on crime and anti-social behaviour is soft. If like me you believe that burglars, drug dealers and people breaching their ASBOs should be sent to prison, vote Labour on May 6th.

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