Labour should be proud of its record on crime. Burglaries reduced from 1.7million a year in 1996 to just over 700,000 by the time they left office. Yet still its the Conservatives who are seen as best on crime. We've got to get back to talking about crime because its a social justice issue - you're more likely to be a victim of crime if you're poor and crime is therefore higher in the communities Labour most often serves than it is in places that always elect a Tory.
So Blair said we should be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. The latter point meaning we'd work hard on stopping people becoming criminals in the first place. We definitely have more work to do on that (earlier interventions being crucial) but the missing element in the Blair statement (admittedly less catchy) is 'tough on the possibilities for crime'.
The reason car crime has dropped so significantly is partly due to the same trends of dropping crime overall but also because of vastly improved car security systems. If only such systems existed for homes...oh wait they do. Yet very few people in Britain have a burglar alarm on their property. I'm not saying having an alarm will deter all burglars but its likely to deter most so why don't we roll out free burglar alarms to all homes in areas where burglaries have been reported in the last year?
Labour-led Salford Council (and I'm sure many other councils do something similar too) deliver an individual tailored package of home security improvements (which can include door viewers, chains, burglar alarms, door and window locks) for anyone who meets the following criteria:
- Repeat victim of burglary within the last 12 months
- Repeat victim of anti-social behaviour (3 incidentswithin the last 3 months)
- Aggravated burglary victim within the last 6 months
- Victim of Hate Crime within the last 6 months
- Victim of domestic abuse via the sanctuary scheme
- Any resident over the age of 70
I like the criteria above as a general eligibility but as I said I'd also widen it to all properties on any street or area where a burglary has been reported in the last 12 months.
If these simple and not very expensive solutions can help reduce the rate of burglaries then they will be worth every penny in moral terms (providing safety and peace of mind for vulnerable individuals, potentially saving lives) but also in hard cash terms too thanks to reduced police time spent investigating burglaries and break-ins.
We need to talk proudly about Labour being the party that best understands how to reduce crime and we need to create a new national entitlement to support for those most at-risk of becoming a victim.