21 January 2020 | OPINION
One of my greatest passions is led by one of my biggest fears – how we, as a society, are going to approach the complex issue of crime. I experienced a monumental culture shock when I moved from a small, relatively safe seaside town in Wales to the vibrant city centre of Birmingham two years ago. When something happened in the town I grew up in, everyone knew about it – it was seen as an extraordinary and rare occurrence – which is a huge contrast to the reality of living in a big city, where extraordinary crimes are thought of as a part of daily life.
As a Blue Collar Conservative, I believe that people should be empowered, with their opportunities maximised and quality of life increased. This is best achieved through Conservative policies. It extends to all parts of society, combatting crime by investing in people and lifting up those who need it the most, not just for the sake of the individual, but for society. Aside from investment, immediate action needs to be taken to keep our streets safe. We can’t and shouldn’t wait decades to see a reduction in crime, or to feel safer in our communities.
In the introduction of the Conservative Manifesto, the Prime Minister reinforced his pledge to make our streets and neighbourhoods safer by injecting 20,000 more Police officers into our communities. This will bring more visibility, with a view to greater cohesion between the Police and communities. Johnson immediately got to work and ordered recruitment to begin as soon as the announcement was made, instilling confidence in the public before the General Election campaign had even begun.
Prevention is also a priority – along with the increase of officers on our streets, the Government is also giving the ‘bobbies on the beat’ extended stop and search powers to reduce serious violent crime. The Manifesto clarifies that these stop-and-search powers need to be ‘fair and proportionate’, and that Police Officers will also be able to target those convicted of knife crime through a new court order. Criminals will face punishment three times faster than they do currently, being brought before the Magistrates in days, not weeks. These new measures are preventative and act as effective deterrents that will rebalance the power that the Police have over criminals.
Together with preventative measures, the Government has announced tougher sentencing, which benefits society through increasing the hours of community work, expanding electronic tagging (including the use of sobriety tagging for criminals who are fuelled by alcohol) and giving proportionate sentences for the most serious of crimes. The sentence for assaulting our emergency service workers, such as ambulance crew, Police and fire-fighters, will be doubled. Sentencing for the worst offenders was featured, promising life imprisonment for child murderers.
The Government has also focused on how to equip and protect our Police officers whilst they are in the line of duty, by providing tools like body cameras and tasers to enable our officers to enforce the law when they are out in the community. BCC successfully campaigned for a new legal guarantee of national care and support for officers in the fight against crime, culminating in the Home Secretary Sajid Javid announcing the introduction of a Police Covenant. This will ensure that the Police officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe will also have the support and protection that they need.
As a voter, these were the things I needed to hear. Immediate action, preventative measures, increased powers and tougher sentences proportionate to the crime. Prioritising the safety of our communities and protecting the most vulnerable in our society is clearly a priority, but in the aftermath of crime and tragedy, supporting the victims of crime is also at the forefront of this Government’s agenda, to be achieved through passing and implementing a Victims’ Law that will guarantee the rights and support of victims when they need it the most.