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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Criminal Record

The Welsh Liberal Democrats hit back yesterday at the misinformation put out by Labour about our record on crime. Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Mike German, said that Labour is guilty of “trying to look tough on crime” without tackling the causes of crime:

More than six out of 10 of all adult offenders (65%) are also convicted again within two years of release, he said, adding that more than half of all offenders do not have the skills required to enter the vast majority of jobs and that only one in five was able to fill out an applications form. Mr German said that while the number of people “being banged up” had increased, so had the fear of crime.

He also condemned that “things like stones being thrown at car windows, litter, dogs being left free to roam in places where they are a danger to children, has got greater”.

Calling for an increase in community policing, he also demanded new thinking about drugs.

Insisting that the current policy isn’t working, he said: “I think we need to distinguish between those who are selling drugs and those who are using drugs. We come down like a ton of bricks on people who are selling drugs – we just need to be ruthless. We can’t do anything else. But I think you have to look very carefully at each individual user of drugs to see whether or not they could be helped to get out of that drug habit.”

The party claims 70% of prisoners suffer from two or more mental health disorders. It wants more drug treatment facilities and mental health beds.

The party is also demanding a nationwide roll-out of the 101 non-emergency telephone service used to report antisocial behaviour.

Labour's reaction was not just predictable but almost hysterical. Welsh Office Minister Huw Irranca Davies accused Welsh Liberal Democrats of 'letting criminals run free', an assertion that is rhetorical nonsense and untrue in fact. Let us be blunt it is not local councils who run the open prison in Usk, where prisoners often escape and run free. It is the Labour Government, of which Mr. Irranca Davies is a member.

Mr. Davies alleges that Liberal Democrats voted against 'Labour’s tough legislation to crack down on antisocial behaviour in our neighbourhoods', an assertion which is misleading. It is true that we opposed curfews for young people, but we have supported every other measure laid by the Government including Anti Social Behaviour Orders. In fact a number of Liberal Democrat Councils, including Cardiff have since supported curfews in some communities. At least we are prepared to admit that we might have been wrong on that particular issue.

The Welsh Liberal Democrat record in Councils we lead stands comparision with any Labour-run Council. In Wrexham, the Welsh Liberal Democrat-led coalition has invested in 56 PCSOs to work across the borough, including a specialist anti-social behaviour team. This has resulted in impressive reductions in crime figures.

In Cardiff, the Welsh Liberal Democrats, along with South Wales Police, have invested money to save the successful 101 non-emergency number after Labour announced plans to axe it. The number takes 500 calls a day and has had a demonstrable effect in freeing-up police time.

Even Labour have admitted what a great job we are doing in Swansea. Labour Minister Andrew Davies said recently: “On a recent visit to Swansea, Vernon Coaker, the Home Office Minister, identified its community safety partnership as a model of good practice in terms of dealing with anti-social behaviour. The local authority, South Wales Police and others are working together to identify ways in which they can deal with this issue, which is most important to our citizens.”

Welsh Liberal Democrats in Bridgend have piloted the first ‘No Cold Calling Zone’ in the borough in Llys Faen. The scheme aims to protect vulnerable residents from bogus calls and allows them to develop the confidence to deal with uninvited callers.

There is a lot more. Considering Labour has been in power for eleven years and have signally failed to deal with this issue themselves, then Mr Irranca Davies really does protest too much.
It's Labour's recalcitrant approach to 101 which baffles me the most. Labour activists must hear the same thing on the doorsteps as everyone else: Where are the promised bobbies on the beat? Why aren't the police more visible tackling drinking on the streets and casual violence? As you say, 101 diverts inappropriate work away from the police and allows them more time to actually police the streets. The figures for people using 101 for non-emergencies makes it clear how successful it has been, and how much more successful it could get. But the plug is being pulled, and I think that's a disaster.

I think its true to say that Lib Dems suspended the Safer Swansea Partnership's programme for CCTV camera installation for eighteen months for a "review" which only served to confim the earlier Labour instigated policy. I appreciate that it was a human rights issue for some Lib Dem councillors but I think the context is important if you are going to make such claims.
Labour are all piss and wind!

G. Lewis
Bridgend Lib Dems
Actually Shambo none of that is true.
Sorry to disagree Peter. Perhaps you've forgotten the Evening Post article in which Ron Thomas and Gethin Evans called on the councol to end its "review". Have you also blanked out the comments of the (then) Lib Dem spokesman Rene Kinzett? I have to admit that I would not blame you over such as lapse in his case.
Because Gethin Evans and Ron Thomas are such a reliable source with no vested interest in doing down the Welsh Lib Dem Administration - NOT!!

There was a review whilst other methods of dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour were explored such as better lighting but it was not 18 months by any stretch of the imagination and it was not driven by any ideological objections at all.

All the civil liberties stuff around CCTV were resolved in the 1980s in Swansea with a comprehensive code of conduct for the CCTV system.
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