This is the first in a short series looking at what the main parties are pledging to do on crime in their general election manifestos. These will be completely factual accounts with any commentary reserved to a separate blog post.
I’m starting with the Lib Dems who published their manifesto yesterday, titled Jo Swinson’s Plan for Britain’s Future.
The plan has two sections dedicated to criminal justice issues under its Plan to Build A Fair Society Chapter:
- A public health approach to violence
- Reducing reoffending
The manifesto also includes a commitment to invest £500m to restore Legal Aid in the Plan for Freedom, Right and Equality.
A public health approach to violence
I have omitted the political introduction but reproduced in full all the pledges in this section.
- Invest £1 billion to restore community policing, enough for two new police officers in every ward.
- Adopt a public health approach to the epidemic of youth violence: identifying risk factors and treating them, rather than just focusing on the symptoms. This means police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling prey to gangs and violence.
- Invest in youth services. We will provide a £500m ringfenced youth services fund to local authorities to repair the damage done to youth services and enable them to deliver a wider range of services, reach more young people and improve training for youth workers.
- Embed Trauma-informed Youth Intervention Specialists in all Major Trauma Centres.
- Introduce a target of one hour for handover of people suffering from mental health crisis from police to mental health services and support the police to achieve adequate levels of training in mental health response.
- Fully fund an immediate two per cent pay-rise for police officers to support recruitment and retention, and future pay rises in line with recommendations from the independent Police Remuneration Review Body.
- Properly resource the National Crime Agency to combat serious and organised crime, and tackle modern slavery and human trafficking through proactive, intelligence-led enforcement of labour market standards.
- Create a new Online Crime Agency to effectively tackle illegal content and activity online, such as personal fraud, revenge porn and threats and incitement to violence on social media.
- End the disproportionate use of Stop and Search.
- Prevent violence against women and girls and domestic abuse, and support survivors, by:
- Ratifying and bringing into law the Istanbul Convention.
- Legislating for a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes its effects on children.
- Expanding the number of refuges and rape crisis centres to meet demand.
- Ensuring sustainable grant-funding for specialist independent support services.
- Giving local authorities the duty and funding to provide accommodation and support for survivors of abuse.
- Establishing a national rape crisis helpline.
- Ensuring access to special measures for survivors in all courts and preventing direct cross-examination of survivors by their abusers.
- Replace Police and Crime Commissioners with accountable Police Boards made up of local councillors.
- Stop Brexit and maintain the European crime-fighting tools that keep us all safe, including: Europol, the European Arrest Warrant and direct access to shared police databases.
Again, I have removed the political rhetoric but include the pledges in full below:
- Transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery by recruiting 2,000 more prison officers and improving the provision of training, education and work opportunities.
- Reduce the number of people unnecessarily in prison, including by: introducing a presumption against short prison sentences; ending prison sentences for the possession of drugs for personal use; and increasing the use of tough community sentences and restorative justice where appropriate.
- Establish a Women’s Justice Board and provide specialist training for all staff in contact with women in the criminal justice system.
- Reduce the overrepresentation of people from BAME backgrounds throughout the criminal justice system, including by:
- Uniformly recording data on ethnicity across the criminal justice system and publishing complete data to allow analysis and scrutiny.
- Introducing a principle of “explain or reform”: if the criminal justice system cannot explain disparities between ethnic groups, then it must be reformed to address them.
- Promoting greater diversity in the criminal justice system by ensuring that the police, prison service and judiciary all adopt ambitious targets for improving the diversity of their workforce and requiring regular reports on progress to parliament.
- Improve and properly fund the supervision of offenders in the community, with far greater coordination between the prison service, probation service providers, the voluntary and private sectors and local authorities, achieving savings in the high costs of reoffending.
- Ensure that all prison-leavers have a suitably timed release and are supported with suitable accommodation, a bank account and employment or training, and are registered with a local GP.
- Improve mental health support and treatment within the criminal justice system and ensure continuity of mental health care and addiction treatment in prison and the community.
- Reform criminal record disclosure rules so that people do not have to declare irrelevant old and minor convictions, and remove questions about criminal convictions from initial application forms for all public-sector jobs.