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ELECTIONS 2005: 'FIGHT AGAINST CRIME A NUMBER ONE PRIORITY'

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Home secretary Charles Clarke, speaking at a Labour Party press conference today said: 'The fight against crime and...
Home secretary Charles Clarke, speaking at a Labour Party press conference today said: 'The fight against crime and particularly violent crime and anti-social behaviour is a number one priority for Labour.

'It is under a Labour government that overall crime has fallen by 30% and violent crime by 26%. But of course we want this to fall further.

'That is why we commit to reducing all crime by a further 15% and within that to ensure that violent crime continues to fall. The main drivers of violent crime are abuse of alcohol and drugs. That is why we will have a ten point plan to get to the core of the problem and give police and local communities the powers to fight back against thugs.

'We will give every community a dedicated local policing team, including police officers and police community support officers, wardens and community organisations such as neighbourhood watch and give local communities a greater say in setting local police priorities.

'Increase in the number of CSOs from 4,600 now to 24,000 by 2008.

'We will introduce compulsory drug testing on arrest for all property and drugs offenders and random drug testing for offenders on probation.

'Introduce a flagship Violent Crime Reduction Bill within weeks of the general election. It will tackle the ownership and use of replica firearms and knives, propose tougher sentences for knife and gun crimes and new measures on anti-social behaviour. We will consult on banning replica and imitation guns which account for a high proportion of gun crime.

'Empower local communities to force action against antisocial behaviour and crime with a new 'trigger mechanism' for local people to kick off action by their local council or the police against anti-social behaviour.

'Publicly name perpetrators of antisocial behaviour so that local people know who is causing trouble and can make sure action is taken.

'Let communities decide on what kind of community service offenders have to undertake.

'Make it easier to take action against perpetrators of ASB by allowing third party evidence and covert surveillance of ASB activities and new powers to allow victims to give evidence anonymously.

'Extend the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for disorder to parish councils.

'And set up a new single non-emergency police telephone number for people to report ASB.'

Hazel Blears, Home Office minister, speaking at a Labour Party Conference today said: 'Almost half of all violent crime is fuelled by alcohol. Binge drinking, violence and disorder are blighting too many of our town and city centres at weekends and is a responsibility for everyone in society, government, police, parents and individuals.

'Labour has already taken firm action to put in place measures to tackle yobbish drunken behaviour. We've given the police new powers to shut disorderly pubs and to seize alcohol from drunks on the street. Fixed penalty notices are a fast and instant way of punishing drunk and disorderly behaviour and parentshave to pay the fines for under 16s. And we have clamped down on pubs and clubs selling to underage drinkers with 2 massive enforcement campaigns in the last nine months.

'By the end of this year our new powers in the Licensing Act means we will be able to shutdown the most troublesome pubs and clubs and attach tough conditions, such as earlier closing hours to pubs and clubs creating problems for local people. The Act will also give local councils and local people the final say in which pubs and clubs are allowed to stay open later.

'If we are re-elected we will go further in tackling alcohol fuelled violent crime and give more power to local police and councils to take the necessary action to solve the problems.

'New powers will enable the police and councils to set up Alcohol Disorder Zones, to ensure that pubs and clubs in those areas which generate the most disorder can be made to pay towards the costs of dealing with the problems and cleaning up the area.

'We will give councils the power to require pubs/clubs with a history of violence to use safe beer glasses and drinks bottles and ban drinking on buses and other forms of public transport.

'And we will give police will have more authority to crack down on yobs. They will be able to require at risk pubs and clubs to search for knives on entry - as a condition of their license. Immediately shut down pubs and clubs for 24 hours for persistently selling alcohol to underage drinkers. Ban drunken louts issued with FPN from all the local pubs and clubs for 24-hours. And get rid of persistent drunks with 3 strikes and you're out orders banning them from pubs and bars within the local area.

'The choice in this election is clear. Labour's tough action on drunken louts, or empty words from a desperate Tory Party, who this week launched a five-point plan most of which is either already happening or already proposed by Labour.'

For more information, please contact the Labour Party press office on 020 7802 1393.

Britain forward not back.

All news releases are issued on a check against delivery basis and any portion of the speech not actually delivered should be regarded as private and confidential.

Reproduced from an email sent by the Labour Party, promoted by Matt Carter, General Secretary, the Labour Party, on behalf of the Labour Party, both at 16 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP.

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