There have been more than 50 bills to reform the criminal justice system, introducing more than 700 criminal offences since Labour came to power. Tony Blair insisted yesterday they have made a difference - but what has their impact been?
Crime: The British Crime Survey shows that crime has fallen by 44% since 1995, and that the chance of becoming a victim is 24%, the lowest level since the BCS began in 1981. But 36% of people in opinion polls say that disorder in public places is a "very big problem" in their area.
Anti-social behaviour: When asbos were introduced in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, the then home secretary, Jack Straw, said they would provide "tough, effective sanctions against neighbourhood disorder". A Commons select committee inquiry concluded that there was little hard evidence about the extent of antisocial behaviour.
Summary justice: Mr Blair had to drop his threat to march drunken young offenders to cashpoints to pay on-the-spot fines. But the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act introduced a range of fixed penalty fines to tackle yob culture. Latest figures show that 43% of such fines go unpaid.
Fast-track punishment for persistent young offenders: Mr Blair promised to halve the time it takes to get a young offender dealt with by the youth courts. The average time taken was cut from 143 days to 72 days in 2001 for England and Wales, but there has been no further progress.
More police: Police numbers fell between 1993 and 1997, and when Mr Blair entered Downing Street there were 127,000 police officers. The numbers continued to fall to 124,000 until 2001. This decline was reversed and the number of officers in England and Wales has now reached a record 143,000 plus 6,300 community support officers.
Seizing criminals' assets: The Assets Recovery Agency was launched under the Proceeds of Crime Act in 2003 but has recovered only £8m despite costing £60m to run.
Tackling offending: A £96m probation scheme to tackle persistent and serious young offenders was launched in 2001. But recent Home Office research revealed that 91% of 10,000 on the programme were reconvicted within two years.
Prisons: The prison population has risen from 61,000 in 1997 to a record 77,000.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
More On Blair
Here is an interesting summary of criminal justice since Labour came in to power. This information is from a Guardian newspaper report: