HAVE LABOUR’S LAW AND ORDER POLICIES BEEN SUCCESSFUL?
- Traditionally the Conservatives were seen as the most popular due to their hard line approach.
- Labour did not place a great deal of emphasis on law and order. – 1992 manifesto contained one paragraph on crime. This was a severe tactical error as law and order is always high on the electorate’s concerns.
- Tony Blair’s accession to leadership & the New Labour ‘third way’ saw changes in policy.
- They combined philosophies of left and right wing views with the phrase ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’.
- This new direction combined with rising crime under the conservatives put them ahead in the polls, helping to bring them to office in 1997.
- An essay on Labour’s law and order record will evaluate success on various law and order themes through comparisons with the Conservatives record and the promises made by Labour in their manifestos.
- In 1997, youth crime was made a key issue at the election.
- One of Labours 5 key election pledges was to halve the amount of time it took to bring young offenders to court. By 2001, they had failed to deliver on this promise signalling a failure of their efforts.
- Other initiatives also fell short of expectations and some were completely abandoned. – Child curfews were considered unrealistic and difficult to implement, so none were given out.
- There is evidence to suggest an increase in criminality amongst youths. Imprisonment of young offenders increased from 1992 – 2001. This either suggests a rise in youth crime or shows an improvement in the efficiency of the police.
- Despite these apparent failures, youth crime can be regarded as one of Labour’s successes.
- Their pledge to fast track punishment was only narrowly missed in 2001 and since there has been evidence of real success in this area.
- Youth offender panels now speed up the process.
- New sentencing options introduced to help match the crime to the punishment to prevent re-offending.
- 2003 the BBC reported re-offending rates amongst juveniles had fallen.
- ASBOs although not used much in the first few years have increased in their use. In future their use and power may increase with parish wardens given the ability to use them.
- Overall tackling youth crime has been key to their efforts of tackling the causes of crime. Labour have attempted to deal with truancy, child poverty and parent skills. Labour can be judged as successful in keeping with their aim, but largely these measures can only be judged in time.
DRUGS & ALCOHOL
- An area Labour is regarded to have failed on.
- Fatalities from ecstasy have risen significantly, raising the profile of drug crime, creating fear & worry.
- Downgrading of cannabis has created confusion, giving the wrong impression of a ‘soft’ government.
- Resignation of the Drugs Tsar led to further negativity over Labours success with drugs.
- The government has recently concentrated on binge drinking and alcohol related crimes.
- Police can close pubs where antisocial behaviour is apparent showing a concern for growing loutish behaviour. However proposed legislation to allow pubs to stay open 24hrs has created confusion and misunderstanding and may in fact increase heavy drinking. The LibDems claim Labour is failing to combat the causes of crime with this policy as alcohol is said to account for half of violent offences.
- David Davis blames the rise in violent crime on labours inability to deal with alcohol and drugs.
- Gun crime has risen. Mark Oaten believes more should be down to quell the flow of guns onto the street.
- The perception of these violent crimes causes the most worry for the government due to the spiralling fear it creates.
- Most people find it hard to believe non-violent crime has fallen therefore. However this is mostly dealt with by local councils.
- Labour has adopted a hard line approach to sentencing, leading to further overcrowding of prisons and a decline in resources for rehabilitation per prisoner.
- Prisons are failing to meet their targets due to dangerous capacity problems.
- Lord Woolf attacked the government’s inability to reduce prison numbers and called for shorter sentencing. The tabloid press then pursued a smear campaign against him.
- This highlights the difficulties the government faces. A prison service at breaking point, combined with the views and demands of the public.
- The Home Secretary continually proposes to expand prison places, with possible plans for ‘super prisons’.
- Most surveys claim crime has fallen indicating success
- However crime has said to be falling for over a decade and this could be due to economic prosperity, so it is not possible to single out any particular policy.
- Crime statistics should be viewed warily.
- Non violent crime has fallen, this may be due to innovations as opposed to government policy, such as better car locks or burglary alarms.
- Area where crime has clearly risen is violent or gun crime.
- Drug policy is another failure. A prime cause of crime, yet the least coordinated policy.
- If you believe prison works, Labour can be congratulated for increasing prison numbers. However, re-offending rates are still too high and prison conditions appalling.
- Tough on the causes of crime measures cannot be judged fairly at present
- Overall, they have met their aim of being both tough on crime and the causes of crime, however they have failed with incoherent drugs policy and rising violent crime rates.
- Success in youth crime and measures to combat the causes of crime are hoped to show success in the long term.
|YOUTH CRIME||Youth offender panels||halve the amount of time it took to bring young offenders to court|
|New sentencing options||Child curfews|
|re-offending rates amongst juveniles||increased criminality amongst youths|
|Truancy, child poverty, parenting skills.|
|DRUGS & ALCOHOL||Police can close pubs||Fatalities from ecstasy|
|Downgrading of cannabis|
|Resignation of the Drugs Tsar|
|24hr opening hours?|
|CRIME STATS||Decrease in non violent crime||increase in Violent crime|
|Public perception of crime|
|PRISONS||-||Overcrowding – failure to meet targets|
|Decline in resources per prisoner|
TO WHAT EXTENT DO THE MAIN PARTIES AGREE ON LAW AND ORDER?
CAUSES OF CRIME
- Labour advocates targeting unemployment, poverty and taxation.
- Social Exclusion unit – target problems in the community that could lead to crime. E.g. runaways, prostitution, those in low income areas.
- The LibDems have for a long time put an emphasis on the causes of crime. They have a philosophy of creating a sense of belonging in the community to combat crime, - linking to the aims of the Social Exclusion unit.
- Under Letwin, Conservatives appeared to take more interest in the causes of crime, and in particular crime at local level (with the suggestions of local sheriffs)
- Measures such as ASBOs and curfews are undeniably right wing
- “Prison works” – Labour and Tory approach
- LibDems would encourage sentences of tough community work for non violent crimes.
- Fixed prison sentences. – Tories would like to see increase further
- Tories critical of early prisoner release
- LibDems + Leftwing Labour are highly critical of what has happened to prison population - following a Daily *Mail agenda has resulted in neglection of key ideas such as rehabilitation.
- Labour are giving more power to police than they themselves criticised in opposition
- infringement of civil rights.
- The influence of the right wing media following anti- terrorism legislation, made opposition parties hesitant to protest for fear of electoral repercussions.
- LibDems advocate cannabis downgrading to Class C
- Tories believe all drugs should be illegal
- (Labour considering reclassification, but research won’t be out till December)
- All parties would like drug use reduced through rehabilitation
- LibDems shift to right under Mark Oaten to portray them as serious opposition
- Oliver Letwin more liberal methods but shift to right under David Davis.
Many current Labour policies reflect a policy direction followed by the Conservatives whilst in office, which were at the time criticised by Labour themselves.
Media hype and public opinion have meant a convergence towards right wing measures.
However it must be remembered that the adversarial nature of British politics produces a system of constant opposition and a search for contrasting policies among the main parties, which underlines a broad consensus.
These notes are aimed at people studying for Edexcel A Level Government and Politics at A2 level.
Originally submitted by shes_ellectric on TSR Forums.