The Conservative Party is rethinking its policies for tackling crime and is ditching the hardline attitudes associated with its past, according to shadow home affairs minister Edward Garnier QC.
He told a party conference fringe meeting yesterday, organised by Community Care and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, that Labour’s ‘get tough’ approach was not working.
Garnier, who is an MP and a judge, was speaking at a meeting focusing on offending by 18- to 24-year-olds, a group often neglected by services.
“Increasing sentences for these young people is absolutely non-effective in reducing crime,” he said.
“Yes, it makes the public feel protected, but in fact it is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”
He said it was important to do more to promote self-reliance among young people.
“Families rely too much on the state. National and local government needs to let go as the solutions lie with non-governmental organisations.”
Barrow Cadbury Trust director Sukhvinder Stubbs said the government had to work more closely with smaller voluntary organisations.
But she added: “The problem is procurement procedures are designed to co-opt these organisations into the state system so that they end up growing into something else.”
At another fringe meeting, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, now head of the Centre for Social Justice, said it was time to put more emphasis on rehabilitation of offenders.
“We must not get into a spitting war with Labour on who can be toughest on crime,” he said.
“[Home secretary] John Reid tells us he’s going to crack down on this and that group, yet crimes, particularly violent crime rates, are rising.”
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