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    Hi
    I was given an essay on monday to complete for tommorrow but i really dont know what to write and im panicking becuase i have to complete it.
    i would really appreciate it if you could help me

    the essay is, "law and order policy was the subject of fierce party conflict in the 1980s and early 1990s, but since the mid 1990s, there has been a growing consensus over the issues." Explain and evaluate this statement.
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    (Original post by ruby_duby)
    Hi
    I was given an essay on monday to complete for tommorrow but i really dont know what to write and im panicking becuase i have to complete it.
    i would really appreciate it if you could help me

    the essay is, "law and order policy was the subject of fierce party conflict in the 1980s and early 1990s, but since the mid 1990s, there has been a growing consensus over the issues." Explain and evaluate this statement.
    Hi Ruby Duby

    Next time give a little more notice. I know it's too late to help, but here's my effort. Could you give it the once over and let me know what you think

    "Law and order policy was the subject of fierce party conflict in the 1980s and early 1990s, but since the mid 1990s, there has been a growing consensus over the issues." Explain and evaluate this statement.

    Law and order policy is an important battleground in British politics with the Conservatives in 1979 seen to be the hardline party of law and order while Labour and the Liberal Democrats viewed as more progressive or, more critically, soft. However, since 1994 the differences between the parties is not so clear cut with talk of a consensus. Nevertheless there are still differences of policy between, and within, the main parties.

    Crime rose sharply in the 1970s and during 1979 election campaign the main parties were divided over policy to tackle crime. Labour and the Liberal Party (later the Liberal Democrats) argued that economic prosperity and reduced unemployment would reduce crime. Conservatives offered a hard-line approach blaming Labour for being "soft" on crime.

    In government the Conservatives introduced radical measures to tackle crime with hard line policies between 1979 and 1987. They increased the size of the police force from 110,000 in 1979 to 120,000 in 1983 and raised the pay of the Police. Spending on the policing more than doubled between 1979 and 1984. In the same period eight new prisons and four youth detention centres were built.

    Criminal Justice Act 1982 gave magistrates more power to imprison offenders and give longer sentences. A policy known as the "short, sharp shock" which used to lock up young offenders in very strict custody in the belief that it would nip subsequent offending in the bud. The policy was heavily criticised as the young "boot camps" were seen by many to be breeding grounds for criminality with the younger offenders learning from their elder inmates.

    The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 increased police powers hugely. Stop and search was extended and police could hold suspects for questioning for longer periods with the permission of a magistrate. The Public Order Act 1986 was a response to disturbances in London, Liverpool, Bristol and other cities, and to the conduct of the miners' dispute of 1984. Many of these policies that increased police powers were highly controversial as they hugely affected the relationship between the individual and the state and were seen as an erosion of civil liberties.

    Between 1987 and 1993 there was a retreat from the hard line policies which seemed to be failing. Instead the Conservatives adopted a different tack with a community approach to crime with less offenders going to prison but given community service sentences instead. The Neighbourhood watch scheme was also introduced and community policing was used to try to bring trust between people and the police and as a way of preventing crime.

    When an economic slump hit in 1990 crime rose again, and in 1993 the new home secretary Michael Howard introduced radical measures to tackle crime and criticised his predecessors for being too soft. With his Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Michael Howard declared that "prison works" and brought in secure juvenile detention centres to replace the local authority run education and rehabilitation centres and magistrates were allowed to give longer custodial sentences for 15- to 16-year olds. He also removed the traditional "right to silence" of suspects and defendants, and police were given increased powers to ban public demonstrations and meetings. Tighter rules on bail meant that more people were held on remand. The Crime Sentences Act 1996 allowed for much higher minimum sentences to be imposed on offenders, and parole and early release was limited so that more prisoners would serve their full term. The prison population rose from 47,000 in 1993 to 60,000 in 1997

    Labour and the Liberal Democrats were very critical of Michael Howard's policies seeing them as an attack on the highly held civil liberties that are an ancient right in Britain. They also criticised the Conservatives for not addressing the social and economic causes of crime. However, not wanting to appear soft on crime Tony Blair as shadow home secretary in 1993 declared that Labour would be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime". Blair sought to balance the populist, hard stance favoured by the modernisers in his party with a more progressive Labour and liberal tradition of addressing the underlying causes of crime such as poverty and social deprivation which was more favoured by many of Labour's back-benchers.

    After the toddler James Bulger was murdered by two 10-year-old boys in February 1993 the Conservatives took a very hard line on young offenders and legislated for secure training centres of under 15-year-olds in the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. This drew criticism from Tony Blair who unequivocally opposed these secure centres describing them as "short-sighted beyond belief" and as being expensive and ineffective. However, by the time of the 1997 election none of these centres had been built. Yet after only a few months in government Labour's home secretary Jack Straw announced that these secure centres for under 15s would be built and the first opened in April 1998 run by a subsidiary of the private security firm Group 4.

    New Labour in government committed itself to locking up more criminals and increasing policing but within Conservative spending plans which resulted in severe overcrowding in prisons and a stretched police force. In many ways there seem to be a great deal of continuity between Michael Howard's policies and the policies of Labour's then home secretary Jack Straw. And the same can be said for Straw's successor David Blunkett who although originated from the left in the Labour Party has been criticised for promoting very authoritarian policies. In ten years of government the prison population rose from 60,000 in 1997 to 80,000 prisoners in 2007.

    On the one hand New Labour brought in many "tough on crime" policies. With its Crime and Disorder Act 1998 New Labour confirmed it was now the government of law and order and not only would it be tough, it would be tougher than the Conservatives. Home secretary Jack Straw pursued a "zero-tolerance" policy influenced my New York's mayor Giuliani which was mostly aimed a 15- to 25-year old boys and men. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were introduced -- a civil order with a criminal sanction if they were breached -- and parenting orders held parents responsible for their errant offspring. Huge numbers of CCTV cameras were installed in city centres, and speed cameras on roads.

    Nevertheless, New Labour also perused policies which addressed the causes of crime with policies aimed at reducing social exclusion and a new deal for communities where training was invested in run-down communities. New Labour also set up an inquiry into the racist murder of the south London student Stephen Lawrence. The inquiry's findings published in the Macpherson Report addressed the issue of institutionalised racism in the police force and many of it's recommendations where implemented by home secretary Jack Straw. New Labour also incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

    Since the events of September 11 in the US and July 7 in the UK, New Labour have pursued many policies that can be criticised for further undermining civil liberties. It has been the Liberal Democrats who have been most distinctive in support of civil liberties with Labour and the Conservatives sometimes agreeing and sometimes not. However, in 2005 Tony Blair suffered his first Commons defeat when opposition parties and Labour rebels voted against 90 day detention in the government's Terrorism Bill. Consensus seemed to have shifted towards opposition to government law and order policy, with the proposals of home secretary Charles Clarke and PM Tony Blair appearing to be too Draconian even for the Conservative leader Michael Howard. Yet it appears that Blair's defeat had more to do with his reluctance to compromise than disagreement of the principle of the policy.

    David Cameron the current Conservative leader has struggled to put much clear blue water between his party and New Labour. Cameron has only offered differences of detail to Labour's law and order policy, stressing less bureaucracy within the police and better accountability rather than substantive policy differences. With Gordon Brown bravely proposing to return to detention-without-charge, with perhaps an upper limit of 58 days, coupled with the promise of greater legal safeguards and more parliamentary scrutiny than previously, he may succeed in holding off a future Labour rebellion.

    To a great extent there is a consensus between the three main parties on law and order with the Liberal Democrats more critical of New Labour's policies than the Conservatives are. However, it could be argued that there is less consensus within the Labour Party on law and order policy but more consensus between the Labour and Conservative front benches. Indeed many Conservative backbenchers have been critical of the erosion of civil liberties under New Labour. As political parties gravitate toward the centre of the political spectrum it is differences within parties that become more apparent. Gordon Brown appears to have weathered this well but David Cameron is not faring so well as the right wing of his party becoming increasingly concerned with his "modernising" approach.

    References

    Jones, Bill et al (2007) Politics UK. Pearson Education.
    Kavanagh, Dennis (2006) British Politics. Oxford University Press
    McNaugton, Neil (2003) Understanding British and European Political Issues. Manchester University Press
    Saward, Michael (2006) "The state and civil liberties in the post-9/11 world" in Dunleavy, Patrick et al, eds (2006) Developments in British Politics 8. Palgrave
    Muncie, John (1999) Institutionalised intolerance: youth justice and the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Critical Social Policy 1999; 19; 147
    Squires, Peter (2006) New Labour and the politics of antisocial behaviour, Critical Social Policy 2006; 26; 144

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    There is also a series on Radio Four called The Crime of Our Lives. The 3 August episode covers the period 1979 to 1993 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/ram/thu0900.ram

    Thursday 9 August will be the last episode which will cover 1993 to date.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/thecrimeofourlives/

    Also an interview with new home secretary Jaqui Smith in the New Statesman is a good indication of current Labour thinking
    http://www.newstatesman.com/200708020014

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