Sadiq Khan – 2017 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, at the Labour Party Conference held in Brighton on 25 September 2017.

Conference, it’s great to be back in Labour Brighton. And it’s great to see our Labour Party so fired up under Jeremy Corbyn. Labour confounded all expectations at the general election this year.

Let’s be clear, Theresa May called this snap election to try and wipe us out. And boy did she fail.

It was inspiring to see millions of people vote for the first time – especially so many young people. And it was inspiring to see so many people who used to vote for our Party return home to Labour.

We made huge progress in the general election and the credit for that goes to one person – the leader of our party – Jeremy Corbyn.

He mobilised our movement. He motivated our activists and reached voters we hadn’t reached before. Thanks to the hard work of Labour members and trade unionists, London elected four fantastic new Labour MPs.

We now have a Labour Member of Parliament representing Battersea, Enfield Southgate,Croydon Central, and, yes, Labour Kensington. Let’s hear it for our Labour gains in London. Our new MPs: Marsha de Cordova; Bambos Charalambous; Sarah Jones and Emma Dent Coad.

And by the way – hasn’t Emma been an amazing advocate for the neglected residents affected by the terrible Grenfell fire?

As a united Labour family we’re on the march. This year’s election came during an unbelievably difficult time for London, our capital,the city I love so much. It’s been one of the darkest times in London’s recent history. We’ve been through too much suffering, too much horror, and too much loss. The terrorist attack on Westminster – the heart of our democracy. The attack on innocent people, enjoying a night out in London Bridge and Borough Market. The horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. The attack on innocent people near Finsbury Park Mosque during Ramadan. And the attack at Parsons Green station on Londoners, as they travelled into work and school.

Nobody expects such tragedy. And no one should tolerate it. We prepare and practice for the worst, but we hope and pray it will never happen. Keeping Londoners safe is my top priority. And in all honesty, it’s hard – by far the hardest part of my job. It really does keep me awake at night.

Fearing the call in the early hours that came too often this summer, to say the worst had happened. More innocent Londoners, who have experienced unimaginable horrors to help and console. More funerals to attend of those who have been killed. And always, always more to do to keep Londoners safe.

But Conference – there are some people who spend their entire lives trying to stop these terrible events and who lead our response when they happen. Whose job it is to put themselves in harm’s way, every day, to try to keep the rest of us safe. And who do it with dedication, professionalism and heroism.

Conference, please stand and join me to show your appreciation to our amazing emergency services. Thanks to our police officers, community support officers and staff. Thanks to our firefighters and control room operators. Thanks to our frontline NHS staff, and all who support them – our paramedics, nurses, doctors and health workers. And thanks to our transport staff who are so often on the front line.

On behalf of all Londoners – and the entire Labour Party – thank you for everything you do. You truly are heroes.

In the darkness of this year the bravery of our emergency services has been a beacon of hope. We have witnessed incredible courage and self-sacrifice. Like PC Keith Palmer, who was tragically killed in the line of duty while protecting Parliament. Although he was unarmed, he didn’t hesitate before confronting the attacker. Rarely has a St George’s medal for bravery been so deserved. And our thoughts and prayers will always remain with his family and friends.

Or take Colleen Anderson, a junior doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital. When she saw the attack from the hospital window, she rushed across the river to treat people lying injured in the road.

Or Wayne Marques, the British Transport Police officer who, single-handedly, took on three armed attackers at London Bridge. Despite suffering terrible wounds, he fought them off until help arrived.

Or the hundreds of firefighters, who went far above the call of duty to save lives during the fire at Grenfell Tower. Who took extraordinary risks with their own safety.

And I want to say a special thank you to Dany Cotton – our London Fire Commissioner. Dany led the rescue operation at Grenfell Tower – going into the building and taking those risks alongside our firefighters. I want to thank Dany also for the honesty with which she talked about those awful scenes – and for being so open about receiving counselling after the fire. She’s encouraged many of our emergency responders and ordinary Londoners to do the same.

And we should thank the brave Transport for London staff, who calmly helped during the attack at Parsons Green station – evacuating the train and leading people to safety – regardless of the risk to themselves.

There’s no doubt that we face a growing threat. Experts say that the number of terrorist attacks this year is not a spike, but a long-term shift.

And crime is on the rise again. The types of crime we see are more complicated and harder to tackle. Violent crime is rising even faster – with too many killed or maimed as a result of knife crime or acid attacks. And ever more young people are being groomed and radicalised by evil extremists – whether here or abroad.

But Conference it doesn’t have to be this way. This all feels very familiar. A weak and divided Tory Government, refusing to face up to the challenges ahead. Bickering and infighting over Europe, putting our jobs and economy at risk. Chronic underinvestment in public services causing a crisis in our schools and hospitals. And crime on the rise.

But Conference, this isn’t the 1990s. This is now. It’s like Back to the Future, but it isn’t funny. Tory cuts to our emergency services have made it harder to keep us safe. A billion pounds cut from the Met Police – a billion pounds less for London’s policing budget.

The result? Fewer police officers on our streets. Police stations closed. And neighbourhood policing under attack. Even police counter-terrorism funding has been cut in real terms. The same goes for our fire service. Fewer fire engines. Fewer fire stations. And fewer fire fighters.

The same story is true in our National Health Service, our councils, our transport network and in every one of our public services.

Conference – we simply can’t go on like this. The brave men and women of our emergency services can’t do their job when the Tories are cutting their funding every year.

It must stop. The Government must give our emergency services the real-terms increase in funding that they desperately need – and right now.

You know, the Tories used to describe themselves as the party of law and order. Well that sounds like a bad joke today. And frankly, as a former Home Secretary, Theresa May should be utterly ashamed of her record.

Labour is the only Party with a plan to tackle rising crime. Labour is the only Party standing behind the men and women of our emergency services. And Labour is the only Party already making a real difference in towns and cities across the UK.

A Labour Government will finally put an end to years of Tory cuts to our emergency services. And a Labour Government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, will finally give our emergency services the proper pay rise they so desperately deserve. Not the insulting offer made by the Tories.

It’s Labour – in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Wales – that has a real plan to tackle violent crime – like gun crime, knife crime and acid attacks. It’s Labour that’s finally making social integration and community cohesion a priority so we can put a stop to the grooming and radicalisation of our young people.

It’s Labour that’s finally made hate crime and violence against women and girls a top priority for the police. And it’s Labour that’s restoring community trust in our police, and making our emergency services more reflective of the communities they serve.

You know it made me so proud to be the Labour Mayor when Cressida Dick was appointed as the first woman Met Commissioner in 188 years. And when Dany Cotton was appointed as the first woman Fire Commissioner in the brigade’s history.

And you know what? They were both appointed on merit as the best people for the job.

Conference, despite the challenges we’ve faced over the past year – I’m optimistic, positive and hopeful about our future. I’m so proud to call myself British and to call myself a Londoner. I’m confident that both London and the UK have bright futures ahead. That we can become a more prosperous, safe and equal country.

And, Conference, I’m optimistic about Labour’s future too. Optimistic that we’ll build on the success of Labour in power in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Wales. That we’ll make more progress in the local elections next year.That we’ll make a huge difference to the lives of millions. That we can build a fairer Britain. A more prosperous Britain. A safer Britain.

And that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn will win the next general election.

Thank you.

Sadiq Khan – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Conference,

Our justice system – a One Nation justice system – relies on a fundamental principle.

Confidence.

Victims, witnesses and communities need to have confidence in the system.

Victims need confidence so that they report crimes.

Witnesses need confidence so they come forward and give evidence to the police and in trials.

Communities need confidence those committing crimes will be caught and properly punished.

Confidence is precious.

But it’s also fragile.

We must do all we can to protect this confidence.

But we must also strive to do better.

And make people more confident in our justice system.

But too many incidents over recent years have damaged people’s confidence.

Did the Dowler family have confidence after the way they were treated at the trial of the man responsible for Milly’s murder?

Does putting Milly’s parents through mental torture, as Milly’s sister described it, lead to confidence in the system?

Or when the victims of vile sexual grooming are told by the authorities that it’s a lifestyle choice?

Does it promote confidence when a 13 year old victim of sexual abuse is called a “sexual predator”?

Bad enough for a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, but a disgrace when a judge says it too.

And did the rape victims who, on the 30 occasions last year reported the crime, feel confident when their rapist got away with just a caution?

Does it inspire confidence in the victim of a violent assault who does everything possible to secure a conviction?

And then finds out the attacker is freed from jail by bumping into them in the local supermarket?

Does it inspire confidence when the Prime Minister rewards failure?

Rewarding the current Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, with a promotion.

Despite being the architect of the failing Work Programme.

Rewarding G4S and Serco with more and more contracts.

Despite them letting down the taxpayer time, and time again.

And let’s not forget the monumental gamble that Chris Grayling is proposing with public safety.

Privatising our Probation Service, and handing over supervision for dangerous and violent offenders to G4S and Serco.

Public safety in the hands of the same companies that let us down on Olympic security, tagging and prisoner transport.

Not let down by the workers.

We’ve all seen the great job G4S staff have done on conference security.

But let down by their management.

And what happens if these companies repeat their failings, and let us down in probation?

Our communities lose confidence in a justice system that rewards failure.

Victims of crime lose confidence in the ability of our justice system to punish and reform criminals.

Public safety is put at risk.

So there must be no half-baked dismantling of probation.

No reckless gambles with public safety.

No dangerous privatisation of probation by this out of touch Government.

But this out of touch Prime Minister is damaging confidence.

His Government is time and again letting down victims.

What happens when you slash compensation for innocent victims of crime?

I’ll tell you what happens.

The losers are people suffering permanent brain injuries and fractured joints through no fault of their own.

What do you get when you abolish indeterminate sentences?

You weaken public protection against the most serious and violent offenders.

What happens if you give half off sentences for guilty pleas?

You insult victims, who think the system is too tame on criminals.

What happens when you cut back judicial review?

You betray bereaved families, like the Hillsborough campaigners, who can’t challenge terrible decisions.

What’s the outcome of cutting legal aid?

The family of Jean Charles De Menezies, the innocent Brazilian man shot at Stockwell tube station would no longer have access to expert lawyers in the future. Nor indeed the Gurkhas or the Lawrence family.

It’ll be harder for victims of domestic violence to break away from abusive partners.

And what if the Conservatives succeed in their clamour to abolish human rights laws?

There’d be less protection for victims of crime.

We’d lose:

– Laws that halted the diabolical situation of rape victims being cross-examined directly by their attackers.

– Laws that helped bereaved families find out how loved ones died.

– Laws that offer protection against the grotesqueness of modern day slavery, human trafficking.

Human rights laws the Tories want to scrap.

Human rights laws of which Labour is proud.

Human rights laws Labour will defend.

And Conference, Britain can do better.

It deserves a One Nation justice system with victims and witnesses at its heart.

I spend a lot of time visiting courts and prisons,

And speaking to victims of crime and those who work in our justice system,

So I know the task is impossible for any Justice Secretary to do this alone.

We want to stop people becoming victims of crime in the first place.

That’s the best thing Governments can do.

The Justice Secretary must work closely with other members of the cabinet to achieve it.

We need a Justice Secretary who’ll persuade the Education Secretary that cutting Sure Start or family intervention projects is a false economy.

One who’ll work with health colleagues to end the scandal of those with mental health problems languishing in our prisons.

One who’ll work with local government, the voluntary sector and those employed in or using the justice system.

I will be that Justice Secretary.

And as a One Nation Justice Secretary I understand the needs of victims.

And on that, can I just say I’m so proud that Parliament is gaining the enormous expertise of Doreen Lawrence.

I’m privileged and honoured she has accepted Ed’s offer and will be joining Labour’s benches in the Lords. On issues like these Doreen brings considerable personal experience, shining a light on all the issues I’ve raised in my speech.

So what would a One Nation Labour justice policy mean?

Number One – when someone reports a crime, the police will tell them what action will be taken and kept regularly updated.

Number Two – when someone’s charged with an offence, victims will track the progress of the case, from beginning to end, charge to sentence, using IT.

Number Three – victims will be kept informed when the offender is released from custody.

Simple, common sense changes that would transform thousands of lives.

We need a change of culture.

But that needs to be led and underpinned by a new Act of Parliament.

That will sweep away the worthless codes of practice that’s nothing more than pieces of paper hidden away in a drawer.

Labour will ensure victims who regularly complain that they aren’t aware of their rights and entitlements will know where they stand.

And so will judges, magistrates, the CPS, the police, lawyers, court officials, victim support, probation and everyone else.

There will be no excuses for ignoring or overlooking the rights of victims and witnesses!

And it’s not on that only legal experts truly understand how long someone will spend behind bars when a judge sentences.

Under Labour, judges and magistrates will set out in plain English a clear minimum and maximum time that will be served in prison.

With sentences published on the internet.

Labour will also raise the standard and scope of restorative justice.

We know that victims who sit down with the offender, helped by well-trained facilitators, emerge feeling better from the experience.

And done properly it reduces reoffending and, yes, saves money too.

Win, win, win!

And Labour will turn the Victims Commissioner into a full time job with real teeth and powers, reversing this Government’s disgraceful downgrading of the role.

And victims and witnesses treated as criminals in our courts must end.

Labour will push judges to stop this happening, and protect the innocent from feeling criminalised.

How we treat the vulnerable is a hallmark of a civilised society.

So we owe it to victims to put their needs first and not be treated as an afterthought.

We’ll change the culture of our justice system so victims are a priority.

We’ll bring in clear, tangible, and enforceable rights set out in an easy to understand Act of Parliament.

We’ll have a Justice Secretary, a Victims Commissioner and everyone who works in the justice system on the side of victims.

We’ll have a One Nation justice system – because Britain can do better.

Sadiq Khan – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, to the Labour Party conference on 28th September 2011.

Conference.

It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be here today for the first time as your Shadow Secretary of State for Justice.

This past 12 months the challenges of our criminal justice system have become all too apparent.

The groups and campaigning organisations; I’ve met the prisons, young offenders institutions and courts; I’ve visited the judiciary and legal professionals I’ve listened to; and the victims whose experiences I’ve heard.

Take Barry and Margaret Mizen who, following the tragic and unprovoked murder of their young son Jimmy, have channelled all their energies into working towards a safer community for young people across London through the Jimmy Mizen Foundation.

I’m honoured to have Barry advising my policy review.

And the probation officer in Preston with 30 years of experience who spoke of her frustration and disappointment at seeing several generations of the same family come into conflict with the law.

These experiences have shaped my thinking and have reminded me of the progress we made in government but highlighted the hard work that still needs to be done.

As you know, I shadow the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

Someone once said that a downside of being in the Shadow Cabinet is that you begin to resemble the cabinet minister that you shadow!

Well, so far, I don’t wear hush puppies.

Don’t smoke cigars.

And manage to stay awake during my leader’s speeches.

Ken and I are very different.

Unlike Ken, I’m not hopelessly out of touch on the issues of crime and justice.

I grew up on a council estate in my South London constituency of Tooting.

I know that often victims and criminals live side by side.

And I understand how important it is for communities blighted by crime to gain important respite from persistent and serial offenders by the handing down of custodial sentences.

Over the past year some of you may have agreed with the tone and sentiment of Ken Clarke’s verdict on our justice system.

And I admit he can sometimes talk a good talk.

After all, who could disagree in principle with a ‘rehabilitation revolution’?

But, Conference, do not be hoodwinked.

Because of Ken Clarke’s and this Government’s policies the Ministry of Justice faces a budget cut of a quarter risking the effective functioning of our justice system.

Dedicated experienced professionals in our prison and probation service face uncertainty about the future of their crucial work.

Even his own Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said this month he’s found no evidence at all of a rehabilitation revolution!

However, I’m not going to pretend that had we won the last election I wouldn’t have made cuts.

I would’ve closed down some courts.

We would’ve introduced a new scheme for contracting solicitors for criminal legal aid.

I would’ve continued Labour’s work on payment by results!

But let’s be clear, not only are the Coalition’s cuts deeper and faster than we would’ve made but Ken Clarke along with Teresa May has simply rolled over to the Treasury without even a whimper.

Because of their timidity and complacency, communities up and down the country will pay the price for botched law and order policies.

With no strategy for cutting crime, this Government’s policies on crime and justice are a shambles.

The truth is the Tories cannot be trusted on law and order.

Ken Clarke has not only fallen asleep on the job but he’s also dangerously out of touch.

Remember his insensitive and offensive comments on rape?

On Radio 5Live, and in response to the statement “rape is rape, with respect?”

He said, and I quote: “No, it’s not”.

Mr Clarke, let me tell you rape is rape.

On our watch, we prioritised victims of rape.

We strengthened the law on consent.

Trained 500 more specialist rape prosecutors.

Increased investment on centres offering help to victims of rape and sexual assaults.

And, because of human rights legislation, rape victims are no longer put through the traumatic experience of being cross-examined in person by their alleged assailants.

And remember this Government’s proposals for a 50% reduction in sentence for early guilty pleas?

This would’ve meant that someone pleading guilty to rape being back on the streets after only 15 months.

I believe we should all worry that this Coalition Government threatens to undermine our hard work.

This Government inherited crime 43% lower than in 1997.

We were the first government in history to leave office with crime lower than when we began.

Leaving a justice system much better resourced be it the prison estate, probation services, youth justice or diversion and rehabilitation policies.

More joined up than ever, building the necessary multi-agency, cross-government approach to tackling re-offending.

Investing in prevention policies like Sure Start, parenting classes, early intervention projects, Educational Maintenance Allowance and much more.

Record numbers of police and community support officers.

And yes, being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

As relevant in 2011 as it was when Tony Blair first uttered it in 1993.

But, Conference, I know all wasn’t rosy on our watch.

Re-offending rates nudged down far too slowly.

Too many in our justice system are repeat offenders.

The public perceive non-custodial sentences as a soft option.

And there’s the challenge of moving on from the overly-simplistic “prison works” versus “prison doesn’t work” debate.

Of course, society should seek to prevent crimes taking place in the first place.

That’s what we mean by being tough on the causes of crime.

Recognising the complex and deep roots of criminality.

In government we drew together agencies to work on improving education, health, housing, employment opportunities, seeking out and eradicating inequality.

Sure Start through to EMA.

All now threatened by this Government.

But, it’s also about having enough police to catch those who still commit criminal acts.

Yet under this government, police numbers are falling.

Getting prevention right should make the job of Secretary of State for Justice easier!

Less crime and less repeat crime would mean fewer people in our criminal justice system.

But Conference, we shouldn’t forget that we must also punish those that commit crime.

That’s what we mean by ‘tough on crime’.

It’s an absolutely fundamental part of any justice system that for those committing serious and violent offences, custody is the only appropriate option.

My own background has shown to me that we owe it to communities blighted by crime to give them respite from criminals through custodial sentences.

We owe it to victims to punish criminals.

But we also owe it to communities and victims to prevent offenders drifting back into criminality.

And this isn’t about being easy on offenders it’s ultimately about making communities safer by preventing offenders from returning to crime.

The National Audit Office estimate that the economic cost of offending by young people alone is £11billion a year.

But the social impacts blighted communities, frightened residents, victims of crime are huge too.

For Labour, we’ve an economic and a social imperative to reduce crime.

It’s a win-win. We want to eradicate the economic and social costs, reform offenders, and support communities and victims dealing with the consequences of crime.

Justice relies on the public having confidence in those in authority holding to account those responsible for criminal actions and victims need confidence they’ll be treated properly.

During our time in government:

We made progress with victims

We introduced victim impact statements

We increased investment in victims support

We established a Victims Commissioner and did much more.

Yet, all this is in danger of being undone by this Government.

They’ve slashed resources to victim support services.

Compensation for victims of overseas terrorism such as those affected by bombings in Mumbai and Bali has shamefully yet to materialise.

They’ve refused to create the Office of Chief Coroner – a post that would provide an appeals system for families unhappy with a coroner’s decision on the death of a loved one.

They are planning to slash the budget of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

By restricting the definition of domestic violence, Ken Clarke has removed access to legal aid for some of the most vulnerable women in society posing a threat to women’s safety and that of any children in the family.

And, in fact, this Government is cutting legal aid altogether for housing, debt, benefits and employment issues at a time when people need this the most.

Advice deserts being created as law centres and CABs close down.

And their changes to “no-win, no-fee” cases mean that people like Milly Dowler’s family and other victims of wrong doing by organisations wealthier and more powerful won’t be able to hold them to account.

I want the Labour Party to build a justice system with victims at its heart.

Giving the public, including victims, the confidence that the justice system is on their side.

My policy review will be reporting next year on policies to strike the right balance between punishment and reform, setting out what works to protect the public, support victims, and stop crime.

But, Conference, I am able to announce today that a future Labour Government will introduce a new Victims Law as called for by the Victims Commissioner, Louise Casey, enshrined in statute so that the rights of bereaved families of victims of homicide are honoured.

Delivering effective justice, and treating victims with respect and dignity.

Supporting victims through all stages of the process, including the deeply traumatic experience of when a case reaches court.

Under Labour, victims will be at the heart of our criminal justice system.

And I will work with victims groups to ensure we get this right.

This summer’s riots show that we need a government that isn’t out of touch.

Our country deserves better than knock down justice.

We need to make the important decisions on crime and justice at the same time as making tough fiscal choices.

But Ken Clarke and this Government are simply getting these choices wrong.

It will be down to us to put it right.

There’s only one party that can be trusted on law and order.

That’s us – the Labour Party.

Sadiq Khan – 2011 Speech to Barnado's

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan, the then Shadow Justice Secretary, to Barnado’s on 8th September 2011.

I would like to thank you all for coming here this morning and to thank Barnardos for organising this event.

For almost 150 years Barnardos has been supporting our country’s most vulnerable children.

The basic sentiment that informs Barnardos work on youth justice and youth offending – that, regardless of their background or behaviour, all children, even the most troubled, deserve the opportunity to turn their lives around – is perhaps more relevant now than ever.

In recent weeks, following the riots which began in London and spread across the country, we have heard children described as ‘feral’, ‘out of control’ and a ‘drain on police time and our penal resources’. As Anne Marie [Carrie] has already pointed out on her blog last month – a 2008 Barnardos poll found that 54% of the public thought that British children were beginning to behave like animals. I’m afraid we can only imagine what that figure would be if the poll was carried out now.

Although the riots were by no means exclusively perpetrated by young people, the ages of some of those involved were as shocking as the crimes themselves. And despite the fact that the vast majority of young people, including those in riot-hit areas, are law abiding citizens, there is no doubt that the unrest we saw in August will shape debates we have from now on on youth provision, youth services and – the issue I’m going to focus on today – youth justice.

The fact that the majority of the public have supported tough sentences, even for young people involved, is understandable. Nothing can excuse or justify the actions of those – however young or old – who caused the unrest last month. People were scared in their homes, their places of work and on their streets and it is right that those who instilled that fear face the consequences of their actions.

But punishment is just one function of our criminal justice system, which must also protect the public, reform offenders and try to prevent people entering it in the first place.

For as much as people want perpetrators of the riots punished, they also want assurances, as far as is possible, that crimes of this sort – and others – won’t happen again.

In the aftermath of the unrest people I have met, in my own community in south London and elsewhere, while unequivocal in their condemnation, have also expressed a deep desire to explain and understand why it happened. Particularly in relation to the involvement of young people:

What led young people to take to the streets and commit these crimes?

Why are so many young people being drawn into gangs?

What caused this breakdown of respect for the law? For authority? For each other?

What would deter them and what can reform them?

The solution to the problem of all youth offending, not just rioting, lies in the answers to questions like these.

We now have, I hope, an opportunity for a grown up debate on how to make our youth justice system work, for the young people within it and the communities it protects – by examining the root causes of youth offending, what preventative action can be taken, how to most appropriately punish and reform offenders and rehabilitate them back into our society.

In seeking root causes, it is tempting but futile to make sweeping generalisations about the backgrounds of young people who commit crime. About their parents, their family make up, or their ethnicity.

But we can look at the statistics. And they demonstrate the scale of the challenge we face:

– Over 70% of children in custody have been involved with, or in the care of social services

– 40% had been homeless before entering custody

– More than a quarter of children in the youth justice system have been identified with special educational needs, almost half are under achieving in school and 90% of young men in prison were excluded from school

– More than half of all offenders were convicted of their first crime before they reached 18 and a further 21% before their 24th birthday.

It is this data that we need to focus on. And in government tackling this is what we meant when we said we would be tough on the causes of crime.

We understood that the right way to halt the unrestrained rise in crime we saw in the 1980s and early 1990s and to cut the number of young people in custody was to stop them turning to crime in the first place.

This meant several agencies working together to deliver a national strategy at a local level. So we tried to develop a joined up youth justice system, with the Home Office and later the MoJ, the Departments of Health and Education as well as the police and local government – all of this overseen by the Youth Justice Board.

Via the YJB, we armed prevention professionals with the resources they needed to intervene early to try to stop at risk young people from turning to crime. They worked with local Youth Offending Teams to deal with young offenders through the Youth Justice System – from arrest to diversionary options or to charge. Through to sentencing and to the management of their reintegration back into their community.

And we knew that early intervention can never be too early. That’s why we created schemes like Sure Start to support very young children and their families and why we developed targeted Family Intervention Projects to offer intensive, personalised support to parents and guardians to help provide the stability families need to bring up their children to be responsible citizens.

And we continued to support young people in their passage to adulthood: with Youth Inclusion Programmes for young teenagers most at risk of offending and the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to give older teenagers the option to stay in full time education.

Of course when we left office last year things weren’t perfect. There was still more work to do, but we did make significant progress in preventing youth crime. Over the last parliament alone we saw a:

– A 43% reduction in first time youth offenders

– A 34% reduction overall in crimes committed by young people

– And we’ve also witnessed the closure of some of the youth secure estate because of falling levels of youth crime

So prevention is the key.

But prevention doesn’t always work. Once a crime is committed by a young person and he or she is caught, there is still the matter of “what next?”

For low level first offences committed by young people effective divergence mechanisms from the criminal justice system have been developed in recent years. Police can refer a low-level young offender to a triage programme instead of charging them if they admit their offence during police interview. Instead of going through the court system the young person will be sent to a Youth Offending Service office where an intervention plan to address their offending behaviour and make restorations to the victim will be drawn up and which they will be expected to follow. And if they don’t comply, they will be charged by the police. So there is a carrot and a stick.

However, for more serious crimes committed by young people, charge by the police and entry into the youth justice system where a legal punishment is passed down will be necessary.

Legal punishment of young people is, of course, controversial.

There are abolitionists who feel punishment for young people is wrong in all instances. And there are those that militate in favour of draconian punishments. In the riots calls for flogging, live ammunition and the stocks were common place according to the polls and the popular press. These were dismissed as lamentable by lawmakers of all parties and of course rightly so.

But public confidence in our justice system, including the youth justice system, does require some punishment for crimes committed to be inflicted on the perpetrator. And the debate about what is the most appropriate and proportionate punishment is best held in the centre, not at the fringes. I believe that most citizens – teachers, nurses, shopkeepers as well as politicians – have a balanced and moderate view of legal punishment and in government we did continue to develop and fund non-custodial forms to compliment custodial options.

Although we successfully brought the numbers of children requiring a custodial sentence more in line with international norms by providing productive alternatives for young offenders, custody is sometimes the only appropriate course of action.

But children given a custodial sentence in the secure estate are still just that: children.

It is only too clear to me when I visit Youth Offending Institutions and Secure Training Centres that I am dealing with children, even if their physical size makes them seem more grown up. They often have incomplete moral vocabulary, stunted emotional intelligence and a limited understanding of how the actions that led to their detention harmed victims and violated the covenants that allow our society to function.

So, when we do detain children, as well as addressing offender behaviour, it is right to invest in their education, their emotional development and general wellbeing. It is tragic to me when I see a young person who thrives under the stability offered to them in the secure estate, en gaged in healthy relationships, perhaps getting qualifications they would never have considered outside at hugely increased costs. And it reinforces to me that every crime committed by a child represents missed opportunities by multiple state agencies and the family, the community as well as the individual. That is why a joined-up approach between all these actors is necessary.

And in this sense, we shouldn’t view crime as transactional between two parties – the offender and the victim. Crime creates social volatility and affects everyone. It damages the communities and the society as a whole, particularly when committed by young people. It is right that the state, representing the people, recognises the duty to incapacitate, punish, reform and deter. But we must find the best ways do this – by looking at what works.

Community punishments are a valuable part of our youth justice system. They can sometimes be more effective in reforming young offenders and in reducing reoffending than short custodial sentences. We believe that tough community sentences for young offenders should be expanded and their funding guaranteed.

But youth justice projects are being squeezed or forced to shut down in the face of cuts to local authority budgets, NOMS, the YJB and YOTs. YOTs are taking hits of up to 60 per cent to non-statutory functions like prevention initiatives including working with gangs. As a result Intensive Intervention Projects are closing down or reducing their services. Already East Sussex, Gateshead, Haringey, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Peterborough, Southampton and Trafford have discontinued their projects!

This is drastically restricting the options available to magistrates and judges to pass down non-custodial community sentences. If they don’t have the confidence in the availability and efficacy of community punishment they will be forced to resort to the secure estate. We’re already hearing from magistrates that cuts to YOT budgets in just the last year are impacting their sentencing options.

It is economically misguided to diminish YOT and community justice budgets and is undermining the Government’s plan to reduce detention numbers.

Strategically incoherent and a false economy seems to sum up the current approach.

According to the Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, it can cost up for £193,000 per year to hold a young person in a secure training centre. And for some it is the best option. But it is a very costly alternative to a community disposal for those for whom it is not necessary or proportionate.

Forcing magistrates and judges into that position because of short term cuts will not result in long term savings and is hugely detrimental to the future life chances of the children placed into custody and the communities who will be the victims of further crimes due to the reoffending of these young people.

I’m proud that we reversed the unconstrained increase in youth detention by investing to tackle the causes of crime.

The number of under 18 year olds imprisoned has reduced by a third over the last three years. And during the same period we also saw a reduction in crime. But this took time. It took investment. And it took a concerted joined-up effort.

I’m glad that the institutional innovations of Labour – Youth Offending Teams and the Youth Justice Board – both exist (for the time being anyway) and are able to do their valuable work in providing pre-sentencing support and advice, and where necessary, working to ensure young people in the secure estate are treated as children and that the secure estate recognises their particular needs and vulnerabilities as far as possible.

I’ll admit, It’s not perfect. For example, we don’t do enough on sharing best practice. We don’t do enough on exploring which interventions work best by leveraging the work of criminologists and experts in the field to plan as rationally as possible.

And while we need to be careful not to inflate the scale of the problem of gangs, it is clear that there are areas where territorial gangs are proving to be a key driver of local criminality. This is where politicians need to listen to and work with the organisations engaging with young people in gangs who know what works to get them out.

Again, there is best practice out there – both overseas and domestically – into how best we tackle the gang problem, involving early interventions and targeting resources

But you don’t have to go far back to remember the problems that existed in the youth justice system prior to 1997. A system that was broken. A system that was still, to a great extent, predicated on Willy Whitelaw’s “short, sharp shock”.

The innovations of the last Labour government – intensive family intervention, a focus on education, recognition of a child’s unique needs – were a repudiation of the past and a genuine and heartfelt attempt to build a brighter future.

When this government unveiled their approach to youth justice there was excitement in the sector – that this may genuinely be something new from the Conservatives on crime reduction and a continuation of the progress we started.

But the Government plans to roll the YJB back into the Ministry of Justice which could risk unravelling some of the progress we’ve seen. Legitimate concerns that rationalisation of functions with NOMS will lead to the erosion of the child-centric approach the YJB began are being dismissed by this government, despite the House of Lords already voting to keep the YJB independent.

Independence, to a degree, insulates the Youth Justice Board from the worst ravages of populist rhetoric. Not entirely, but sufficiently to give them greater latitude than would be afforded a politician and a greater emphasis on what actually works to cut youth crime.

And why are they letting a public body with a proven track record of reducing crime go up in the smoke of the bonfire of the quangos? The decision was not based on a review of performance. As with everything, the decision seems largely based on costs, not value.

But cutting the YJB won’t save much money – around £100,000 over three years – and threatens, through undermining a joined-up youth justice system, to actually increase costs over the long term through higher criminality and the attendant costs to individuals and the state.

The system is not just under assault in that sense though. There are also deep concerns about funding the secure estate. The rate of detainee deaths in custody this year is far higher than in past years. The secure estate is having to absorb big cuts in budgets. And anything less than an obsessive focus on ensuring safety is not compromised is, to my mind, a severe abrogation of duty. We will continue to press the Prisons Minister on the matter of deaths of young people in custody and will work with the government and any other agencies to do what we can to ensure the secure estate is safe for detainees.

Basic safety and protection of well being, both physical and mental, should be the least we expect when it comes to treatment of young people who come into conflict with the law.

We also have a duty to prevent the all too frequent transition from youth offender to adult offender.

Although we were able to reduce it somewhat in government; the stubbornly high rates of reoffending amongst young people need to be urgently addressed.

We don’t only have a moral duty to try to rehabilitate young people and offer them a second chance at responsible citizenship. It is also an economic imperative.

The National Audit Office has estimated the cost to the UK economy of offending by young people as £11bn per year. If we are to bring this cost down, not to mention the unquantifiable emotional costs to victims of crime, we must invest in rehabilitation.

And when we’re dealing with young people, this does not just mean giving them the practical educational skills they will need to play a productive part in public life. It must also involve fostering an understanding about the consequences their actions have not only for their own lives but for the victims of their crimes. An understanding often lacking for many young offenders.

Restorative justice programmes that make young offenders take responsibility for their crimes can indeed be transformative justice. It can help develop the moral vocabulary, emotional intelligence and offer a level of reparation for the victim that punishment alone can’t always deliver.

Where restorative justice has been used, in Northern Ireland it has produced lower reconviction rates and higher satisfaction rates for victims. A 2010 Prison Reform Trust report shows almost a 50 per cent reduction in the reoffending rates of young offenders that took part in Northern Ireland’s restorative justice programme.

It is of course not appropriate for every crime or every young offender. A fifteen year old that kills or rapes as part of a gang initiation needs to be dealt with differently. But it is a mechanism that merits further emphasis within our youth justice system and something Labour would be committed to expanding where victims feel it would help.

So I can announce this morning that Labour will be seeking to amend the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Bill so that courts have an explicit duty to consider making an order to participate in a restorative justice course. And if the government is true to its word that it wants to replicate Northern Ireland’s restorative justice programme, then supporting our amendment would be a positive step.

But their record to date makes me doubtful of their commitment.

It is not only the preventative innovations of the last government that are at risk – the Sure Start centres and youth clubs which are closing, family Intervention Projects being put at risk by ring fenced funding being removed, the EMA being scrapped, Youth Offending Teams being disbanded – rehabilitative measures are also taking a hit. My fear is that it will not only be young people whose lives will be wasted to crime that will suffer, but also communities up and down the country battling anti-social behaviour and youth offending.

The intolerable outbreak of crime we saw on the streets of our cities this summer shined a light on our youth justice system and the underlying reasons why young people sometimes feel they have nothing to lose and a lot to gain from crime.

We need to look carefully at what this light has uncovered – from the shadowy world of gangs to opportunities for work and training that young people need.

That is precisely why we’re reaching out – to experts, practitioners and young people themselves – for solutions.

I am chairing an extensive policy review looking at all aspects of criminal justice policy. My review will be analysing the evidence of what works to prevent young people from committing criminal acts in the first place and how we can best reform the ones that do. We will scratch below the surface to deal with the complex issues we know play a part – including deprivation, gang culture and exclusion. And how our youth justice system can be made to work for the young people within it.

I will need your help. The work of organisations like Barnardos and many others represented here today should inform youth justice policy so it is genuinely child-centric, evidence based and effective. We will also need to look at what lessons from the successes we’ve seen in youth justice can be transferred to the adult criminal justice system.

Youth crime went down in recent year s and youth custody levels fell. So there is something distinctive about the youth justice system which shows we can reduce crime and imprisonment at the same time. Unlike the adult penal system.

The relationship between custody and crime is never simple, but I don’t think it’s immodest to say that an important factor was the investments Labour made, in money and in effort, to prevent and deter youth crime.

Casting simplistic assertions about a ‘feral underclass’ as Ken Clarke has about those involved in riots is lazy. This kind of language absolves people from responsibility for their actions, implying that somehow they had no self control or no choice. Instead we will be looking at how we can make young people responsible citizens who understand the consequences of their actions and have the opportunities and the means to stay away from crime. But at the same time, have a youth justice system that effectively punishes and reforms those who do commit offences.

It is a moral and economic imperative to stop young lives being wasted to crime. The vast majority of young people want to play a productive, not destructive role in society. It is all our responsibility to make that happen and to help reform those who are struggling to do so – for everyone’s sake.

Sadiq Khan – 2010 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sadiq Khan to the 2010 Labour Party conference.

Good Morning Conference,

This week, we have elected a new leader and we have asked him to lead us on a journey of change, so we can reconnect with the British people, win back the voters we lost and return to power.

To do that, and set out the right vision for the future, we have to learn the lessons of the past.

We must take pride in our achievements.

And we must be humble about our mistakes.

And we must learn from them.

So let me first tell you what I am proud of:

And it’s not being the first ministerial appointment to be announced on twitter.

As we all are, I am proud of our great achievements – the minimum wage, tax credits, the hundreds of thousands of pensioners taken out of poverty.

The progress on equality that allowed me to become the first MP of Muslim faith to attend cabinet.

Amidst all these successes, it would be easy for some to overlook the progress we made for transport.

But not for me.

Because my dad was a bus-driver.

And there was no escape at the in-laws either.

My wife’s dad worked f or London Underground.

Most people feel nagged by their parents from time to time, but very rarely is it about the future of bus regulation.

But talking shop with my family made sure that I never forgot the shambles of a transport system we inherited from the Tories in 1997.

So I am proud of the progress we made.

Embracing market solutions where they are right, but never forgetting the important role government can play.

Time and again challenging the conventional wisdom to stand up for those that rely on our transport network – passengers, motorists, businesses and business people.

Rejecting the ideology that drove the Tory rail privatisation by replacing Railtrack with a body that prioritises safety, not shareholders.

Recognising that access to public transport is more, not less important, in impoverished neighbourhoods and so giving local authorities more control over bus routes.

Opening Britain’s first high speed rail line.

Cutting deaths on the roads.

Nationwide free bus travel for over 60s and disabled people.

Giving millions of people more freedom and quality of life.

And in London, we saw what Labour leadership can mean – upgrades to the tube, electronic ticketing, bus services transformed, the congestion charge, and a deal for Crossrail, a scheme which will contribute billions to Britain’s economy.

All reasons I’ll be proud to campaign once again for Ken Livingstone to become Mayor of London.

We showed the importance of strong regulation, but also that the public sector and the private sector can work together to deliver investment to improve our roads and buses and railways.

It is an approach that was right in the past and will be right in the future.

But this week cannot just be about learning from where we got things right.

We also need to learn from where we got things wrong.

Because to tackle the great challenges to the transport system of the future – rising passenger numbers, growing congestion, the spectre of climate change.

We need to have a clear view about what we need to do differently.

So there are places where we need to change.

We made great strides on ensuring bus services for all communities.

But we could have done more to give local councillors more control and we need to recognise that and move on.

We made great strides on getting children and adults to cycle more.

But we did wait too long to promote cycling as a mainstream form of transport.

As Andrew Adonis reminded us last year… for us “on your bike” is a transport option not an insult to the unemployed.

And we made great strides on tackling carbon emissions.

We have set out some of the most detailed plans in the world, not just on how to cut emissions but also how to support greener motoring, create jobs and ensure that it is in the UK that we manufacture the clean cars of the future.

But we didn’t always get the answers right and we need to recognise that and move on.

Part of moving on means working with this government when they make good decisions, where we agree with them we should support them.

But where they put our transport system at risk we should say so as well.

So we hear that they doubt:

The value of investment in new trains.

The value of supporting bus companies to provide services in deprived areas.

The value of our plans for high speed rail.

Of course, we will support responsible cuts when times are hard, but right wing ideological cuts are wrong, unacceptable and we will expose them.

Under David Cameron, much of what we gained is at risk.

Passengers will not pay more for less.

And that will mean one thing.

People who currently use public transport returning to the roads.

Bad for motorists, bad for businesses, bad for the economy.

Conference, of course there would have been cuts under a Labour Government.

Some schemes would have had to be postponed or even scrapped.

I can’t stand here and tell you that every local transport project would have been funded.

But I can tell you this:

We would not fall into the trap of short-termism, making cuts now which would still be holding our country back in twenty years time.

We would not reduce transport policy to economy, but always remember that it is essential to fairness that people in all parts of our society can afford to get to where they need to be.

We would stand up for ambition and for optimism.

And, because you don’t get real change by tinkering around the edges.

That means being prepared to make radical change as a party.

To help build a fairer and more prosperous society.

Tony Blair told us that we are at our best when at our boldest.

Two days ago, our new leader Ed Miliband told us we are at our best when we are restless reformers.

And of course, they are both right.

We must not let being in opposition stifle our ambition, nor austerity smother our hopes.

We’ll win the next General Election if we show people a vision of a better fairer Britain that they can believe in.

Not just a vision for the next 5 years – but for the Britain that we want to leave behind for the generations to come.

Conference, I believe that we have that vision in us and we’ve shown the world this week that we’re coming back, bolder than ever.