David Davis – 2005 Speech on Crime

Below is the text of the speech made by the then Shadow Home Affairs Spokesman, David Davis, at Conservative Central Office on 22nd April 2005.

Yesterday the Home Office announced that violent crime rose by 9 per cent. That’s not just a statistic, as everyone can see from today’s newspapers.

Mr Blair’s complacent response to the rise in violent crime is to say crime is falling and his Home Secretary even believes violent crime is falling.

That attitude is absolutely typical of Mr Blair’s behaviour over the last eight years. Try and manage the issue off the front pages with a blizzard of misleading denials.

Imagine five more years of it. Five more years of a prime minister who says crime is a figment of people’s imaginations, whose answer in his manifesto is to create a national victim network and dream up ‘eye catching initiatives.’

Imagine what our streets will be like five years time, with violent crime rising year after year.

The violence and lawlessness of some of Britain’s inner cities is already spreading to suburbs and market towns across the country. Bookham, Surrey. Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Yorkshire.

Let me tell Mr Blair straight. Life in Britain today is very different outside your security bubble.

Don’t let Mr Blair mislead you with his use of statistics. Burglaries have fallen as more people take steps to protect their property.

But people can’t physically protect themselves in the way they can protect their property and their cars with burglar alarms and immobilisers. A person cannot be immobilised except by locking themselves in their home – and turning the streets over to yobs, drugs dealers and muggers.

Violent crime is rising and Mr Blair has had eight years to stop it.

I would like to hang a placard around his neck with those words that everyone remembers and which propelled him to the leadership of the Labour party – ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.’ Because for Mr Blair, it’s all about what he says, not what he delivers.

Yesterday Mr Blair brushed aside the views of a policeman who asked him, ‘Why do you continually make my job harder by telling the general public that there are more police officers than there has ever been, when for every police officer you have put in the rank and file on the street, you have probably put another four in offices.’

No wonder the figures we are announcing today show the number of police resignations has more than doubled.

It was Charles Clarke who said that ‘the number of people leaving [the police service] may be taken as an indicator of morale’. I agree,

I’ve heard first-hand from police officers whose squads have had their ‘morale sapped’ by the burden of paperwork and who feel that they are ‘tied up in paperwork’.

But then, it is no wonder that they feel like that when you consider that the Home Office is second guessing them at every step, and flooding their working day with paperwork.

The seven minute stop form will take up, if the Home Office’s figures are correct, the equivalent of an astonishing 3,000 man years per annum.

To people who fear walking down their own streets, this is absurd.

They want police on the beat catching criminals, not filling out forms.

Local communities will have control of how their policing works, so that the police pursue the priorities of the local community.

The police need to be accountable to their local communities, not a bureaucracy in Whitehall.

The decline of individual responsibility, the proliferation of so-called “human rights” and this Government’s failure to draw a clear distinction between right and wrong have left Britain powerless in the face of rising crime and disorder.

Drink and drugs are fuelling crime. What has Mr Blair done?

Over the last eight years consumption of alcohol has climbed by 16 per cent, much of that increase driven by the heavy drinking culture.

The number of people cautioned or found guilty for drunkenness has fallen by more than 15 per cent under Labour – down by 10,000 a year.

Labour have failed to deal with binge drinking, and now they want to make it even easier to get drunk 24 hours day.

They have already effectively decriminalised underage drinking.

Over 80 per cent fewer people are dealt with by the police for buying alcohol under the age of 18.

So after eight years, what grand new plans have did they announce yesterday to deal with this problem?

None. Earlier this week we launched our action plan to deal with binge drinking, setting out clearly what I think the solutions are.

They did not include CSOs, although I do think that they have a role to play, they are not the solution.

And they did not include Anti Social Behaviour Orders, which whilst they play a role, are not the solution.

As Theresa has explained drugs are at the root of most crime, and that is something that must be dealt with effectively.

Mr Blair has lost the war on drugs because he doesn’t believe drugs cause crime.

I will fight the war on drugs. That will actually mean something, compared to a Home Secretary who has managed to pledge that he has five top priorities in just five short months in the job.

We have a plan to tackle these problems head on.

First, the key to cutting crime is more police. And that is why when I become Home Secretary I will recruit an extra 5,000 police officers each year.

And once I’ve done that, instead of telling the police how to do their jobs, I’ll let them get on with it.

Second, we’ll cut paperwork. The stop form will go. Police need to be on the streets, not filling forms. That means we can put 3,000 more police on the streets at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Third, we will make police accountable to their local communities and free them from central government bureaucracy, plans and targets.

Fourth, I will end the system that sees criminals being let out of prison before they have served even half of their sentence, criminals that have committed a further 4,500 crimes whilst on the scheme.

A Conservative Government will send a powerful signal that crime does not pay and criminals will be punished.

When people do commit crime then they need to be given a sentence that fits their crime.

Judges will set out minimum and maximum sentences, so that victims know where they stand and criminals will serve their proper sentences.

Fifth, we will build 20,000 more prison places, so that we can take 20,000 more criminals off the streets and stop them committing crime.

All of these measures are tough, but I don’t want to just talk tough.

I will be tough. I won’t forget about the victims of crime as soon as the headlines go away and the dust has settled.

Instead of pursuing headlines, I will relentlessly pursue those members of society who make peoples lives a misery.

A million violent crimes a year is a million too many.

Mr Blair has had eight years. As people watch the news today, they’re entitled to ask: ‘Isn’t that enough time to get a grip on crime?’

If you’ve had enough of Mr Blair’s undelivered promises, his gimmicks and talk, and you are sick of the number of crimes in our communities, then the time has come to say, enough is enough.

On May the 5th you have the chance to send Mr Blair a clear message. You can vote for a Conservative Party that will strike hard at the roots of violent crime and will beat it.