Jacqui Smith's Mistake

It was not, perhaps, the wisest move on the part of a Home Secretary in a government that's been in power for 11 years to admit that she didn't feel safe walking the streets at night, but that was indeed Jacqui Smith's mistake at the weekend. She made the admission while being interviewed by Andrew Marr, and came across as if she were just another of all these helpless people who can't do anything about the soaring crime rate. Except that she's, well, you know......Home Secretary, and sort of in charge of the police and keeping crime down.

One result of her admission has been to push one or two of the newspapers into an anti-crime frenzy, none more so than ardent Labour supporters, the 'Sun'. Their front page today prints a desperate reader's letter that talks about 'decent members of the public being murdered by the feral youths on our streets.' Their website page then goes on to catalogue a veritable smorgasbord of horrors to hammer the point home.

This is meat and drink to the 'Sun' of course, and the link between rising crime and increased police inability to tackle it, with the rise in bureaucratic requirements for the police as imposed by the current government, won't have occurred to them. The problem for the opposition parties, and especially the Tories, for whom this is supposed to be fertile territory, is how to sound strong on the issue without coming across as a hang 'em and flog 'em loony. Mind you, figures notwithstanding, it is just possible that for every Jacqui Smith, fearful of walking the streets lest she be mugged by an annoyed police officer struggling to make ends meet on his less than satisfactory pay rise, there could be a horde of citizens tramping the streets in perfect safety. That bit doesn't get reported of course. It's not really news, is it? 'Man Walks Home Safely'. Hmmm.


future tory PM said…
What saddens me most is yet another Sun rant about tennage crime in which, inevitably, every teen in the country is labled a lout and that we all carry knives.

Smith really did not think before she opened her quite obviously confused mouth. But yes the torys do have a problem because it is very hard to come up with an effective way of solving this problem. Especially when some of the best solutions are the most unpallitable to 'do-gooders' who think it is against the teenagers' rights to be properly punished.

Something does need to be done about teenage crime but the streets are hardly as dangerous as the are made out to be... that is if you are accompanied by a police escourt and officers from special branch when you 'bravely' purchase a kebab in Hackney!
C H Daly said…
Is there an echo on this comments page?

Let's just remember that the general crime rate in London has been consistently falling since 1997 under the Labour government.

I'm fully behind the government's proposals to provide the million or so 'NEETs' with skills and training that will get them off of the streets and into workplaces. Nobody has to be worried about being regarded as the boot in the face of society if crime is diagnosed and appropriately with as a product of social inequality and not an inherent wickedness in mankind.
nye bevan's nemesis said…
The only echo, c h daly, seems to be your echo of New Labour newspeak! 11 years in power and the best we get is yet more proposals for nebulous 'skills and training' and a few aspirational thoughts. And crime is absolutely the product of mankind's inherent wickedness. Plenty of well off individuals turn to it; plenty of areas of social deprivation in past years have not been cesspits of criminal activity. The liberal desire to 'understand' crime is what has been at the back of this society's decline into toleration of low and high-level anti-social behaviour.
C H Daly said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
C H Daly said…
Nonsense, there has been no such "toleration of...anti-social behaviour" whatsoever. The application and ongoing extension of the ASBO system; the introduction of community support officers as well as a greater number of patrolling policeman alongside the government's impetus on getting young people in some form of employment or training is bearing fruit. Your alternative suggestion?
nye bevan's nemesis said…
ASBO's - they've worked brilliantly (and the old adage about these being the only qualification they'll get is already tired!) and community policemen have featured in several stories recently that reveal their sad uselessness. A pity, since I'm sure they are committed people, but the government and its tame Met chief don't seem to want to expand the regular force...
C H Daly said…
Well for all the dripping sarcasm then ASBOs have proved effective in combating anti-social behaviour in troubled communities.

As for community policeman, the people who talk about their "uselessness" and the fact that they have no powers of arrest miss the point entirely. They are supposed to merely be a law enforcement presence helping to deter crime and assist where they can in the community.

More police officers on the streets means more money which means more tax and I haven't heard a politician in the last decade who has called for tax increases.
Anonymous said…
If the government was responsible and didn't cause all this inflation and didn't have such a budget deficit then public sector wages wouldn't be an issue. Gordon and the government only have themselves to blame.

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