Being Labour means being part of a movement of hope. I believe our job is to help build a society where everyone has the wherewithal to shape and achieve their dreams and ambitions. Being a victim of crime often means that people stop believing that it is possible for them to even have a dream or ambition, let alone achieve it. Being a victim of the fear of crime, as so many people are these days, can have similar consequences.
Therefore, in the Labour Party, we have a deep responsibility to do all we can do to ensure that policing and the wider justice system is effective, efficient and fair.
We cannot trust the Tories and the Lib Dems to do this. When the police services are suffering unprecedented cuts that will, undoubtedly, damage the frontline – they have no right to claim to be a government of law and order.
And we saw what happens to the rule of law under a Tory led government in August this year: Their response to the riots was first to stay on holiday and second to lurch into Victorian rhetoric. Contrast this with our leader, Ed Miliband, who called for a national conversation about what happened and investigate the real causes. Not just tough on crime and its causes, but measured and engaging too.
And now we need to carry on being measured and engaging with elected Police Crime Commissioners. This was not our policy and we remain angry about the £100m cost – much of which is due to the November scheduling of the elections. But these elections will now happen. The law is now on the statute book and I just do not believe the government will retreat on this policy. Do you?
These are political positions which we must be campaigning and standing for. We cannot leave it to ConDem politicians or worse, extremists, to set the agenda for local policing services.
And we need to start organising and campaigning now.
I am so very proud that the last Labour government is the only government in history to have left office with a lower crime rate than when we started. Not just a little lower – but a lot lower. This is something we should be shouting from the roof tops. With neighbourhood policing and the community safety partnerships, we reformed the policing practice map. In government: we invested in policing – we worked in partnership with the police – we had a positive relationship. The same cannot be said of the current government.
Meanwhile for the time being, Labour led police authorities up and down the country are carrying on with our distinct contribution to police governance – making real differences to local communities. And so now we must invest our values, our ideas and more. Communities and victims of crime around the country will want and expect us to do nothing less. We must make sure that we have Labour Police Crime Commissioners.
It will only be us who will use our leadership and influence to build police services that work for the many not just for the few. Because it is in our bloodstream, it will only be Labour PCCs who will listen and engage with all our diverse communities – especially children and young people who make up the majority of the victims of crime. It will be us who will ensure a real focus upon the prevention of crime and on policing practice that has been shown to work through research.
We will stand up for policing that will never, ever lose sight of how many women suffer crime and its consequences. And of course, it will only be us who will offer a serious challenge to the government over its financial settlements with local policing services. And we will challenge this Government’s tired narrative about ‘feral youths’ and a ‘broken society’.
Unlike this Government, we are not divided on the Human Rights Act, and this will guide all of our work as PCCs in support of proportionate and fair local policing.
This then is our task, I believe. We must start organising and campaigning now for Labour Police Crime Commissioners. With a clear understanding of operational independence and accountability, our aim will be to work alongside the Police to help them deliver communities free from crime and free from the fear of crime.
As Labour Police Crime Commissioners we can help create communities that are full of hope and ambition.