The Liberal Democrats yesterday accused both Labour and the Conservatives of ducking the hard decisions on police reform in favour of a sentencing arms race, as they launched their proposals for fundamental reform of the way the police are run.
The ideas, outlined in the paper Cutting Crime: Catching Criminals With Better Policing, highlight the urgent need to move the criminal justice debate away from what sounds tough to what actually works, with a shift away from prison towards policing and detection.
The main proposals include:
> 10,000 extra police on the streets, paid for by scrapping ID cards
> Reviewing the police contract including lifetime employment for 30 years, the single point of entry and pay levels
> Annual fitness tests for frontline officers
> Decentralising the force by scrapping counterproductive central targets, introducing the local setting of priorities and budgets and the direct election of the majority of police authority members
> Creating a National Crime Reduction Agency to assess police and criminal justice policies on evidence and to spread best practice
> Respecting police pay awards from the Police Arbitration Tribunal
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said:
“For too long, policing and criminal justice policy have been decided by what sounds tough, rather than what works.
“Prison, a sentencing arms race between Labour and the Tories, and Labour’s legislative diarrhoea in creating 3,600 new criminal offences since 1997, have been used as a proxy for real action on crime.
“The radical proposals outlined by the Liberal Democrats today are designed to shift the debate away from posturing on penalties and towards catching criminals.
“Labour and the Conservatives have repeatedly ducked the difficult decisions on police reform. Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to a review of outdated working practices in the police.”