Combining prevention, deterrent and enforcement
|The Government’s New Plan To “Beat Crime”|
Yesterday the Government published its new “Beating Crime Plan“. In his foreword to the plan, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson ramps up his tough on crime rhetoric:
“I have always been absolutely determined to come down hard on the criminals who bring such misery to so many lives.”
Summarising the plan , the Prime Minister goes on to say:
“Combining prevention, deterrent and enforcement, it will give the fantastic men and women in our police and criminal justice system the tools they need to keep people out of trouble in the first place, and to hammer those who persist in breaking the law – whether they’re on the streets, behind closed doors or on the internet.”
Here are the main elements of the plan reproduced in full:
- Reconnecting the police with the public. We will ensure every single person living in England and Wales will have access to the police digitally through a national online platform, allowing them to access a range of interactive police services in one coordinated place, including details about their neighbourhood police officers and their contact details so that they can raise any concerns with their neighbourhood officers directly.
- Improving the responsiveness of local police to 101 and 999 calls by working with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services to develop league tables for answering calls and ensuring that the public know how responsive their local force is when they call them for help.
- Intervening early to keep young people safe and away from violence – including a new £17 million package focused on those admitted to A&E with a knife injury or following contact with police.
- Investing over £45 million in specialist teams in both mainstream schools and Alternative Provision in serious violence hotspots to support young people at risk of involvement in violence to re-engage in education.
- Expanding our use of electronic monitoring for serious acquisitive offenders to a further 13 police force areas – covering half the country – and ensuring that many more neighbourhood criminals have their movements tracked upon release from prison, supporting probation and the police to deter and detect further acquisitive crimes.
- Trialling the use of alcohol tags – which detect alcohol in the sweat of offenders guilty of drink-fuelled crime – on prison leavers in Wales to help change behaviour and reduce violence and other alcohol-related crime.
- Encouraging prison leavers to turn their backs on crime by securing employment. We will hold a summit later this year to bring employers together to encourage more prison leavers to enter employment and turn their backs on crime. We will lead the way with the goal of recruiting 1,000 prison leavers into Civil Service roles by the end of 2023.
- Empowering the police to take more knives off the streets and to prevent serious violence by permanently relaxing conditions on the use of section 60 stop and search powers.
- Expanding the role for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) – we will launch the second part of our PCC Review to equip PCCs with the tools and levers they need to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour in their local areas
The plan also focuses on work to tackle drug-related crime, much of it in response to Dame Carol Black’s Review of Drugs covered extensively on this blog. The measures to tackle drugs outlined in the Beating Crime plan include:
- Investing £31 million to expand Project ADDER – which combines tough law enforcement with increased provision of treatment and recovery services – to eight new local authorities across the country.
- Increasing the police’s use of drug testing on arrest to crack down on recreational drug use and ensure those involved in crime after using drugs are identified.
- Delivering a cross-Government summit to work up a comprehensive package of measures that will drive down demand for illegal drugs and tackle these challenges across society
As readers will see, this is a pretty broad mix of measures. Some of them – such as expanding Police powers to Stop and Search have already received much criticism for their likely discriminatory impact. Police commentators have also been broadly critical of the introduction of league tables for responsiveness to 101 and 999 calls with many despairing of the promised return to policing by targets. Selling these measures to the police at the same time as announcing a pay freeze for almost all officers is going to be a demanding political task.
There are more rehabilitative measures in the document with serious investment promised in early intervention for knife crime and better housing and job prospects for prison leavers.
The government certainly does not lack ambition with some very demanding targets in both this document and their response to the Dame Carol Black review also published this week. In the latter document, the government promises to tackle the long standing problem of the lack of continuity of drug treatment for people leaving prison. For many years just one third of people who engaged in treatment in prison continued on to treatment in the community on their release. The government promises to increase the proportion of prison leavers continuing drug treatment to 75% by the end of this parliament. That would indeed be a praiseworthy achievement.