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Davis: Prisons with a purpose

In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference, Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis said:

"This year it would be too easy to spend the first half of this speech getting some laughs and a clap or two out of a government that's lost 2 Home Secretaries in 2 years

that loses thousands of failed asylum seekers

that releases foreign prisoners onto our streets

that keeps 2 sets of crime figures one to fool the public, the other to fool themselves and so on.

But I decided against that. Why? Let me answer that by reading you a letter.

A letter from a teenage girl who was raped in the most appalling circumstances. This young woman feels betrayed.

Betrayed because her sadistic attacker could be out of prison in less than four years

Betrayed because no action was taken against the others involved in this horrific crime

And because in her words the system that was meant to help "only made matters worse."

She ends her letter with these words (and I quote):

"I have only faith left now. Faith that you will change things. You have the power to change this."

You have the power to change this.

I'm humbled and inspired by this young woman's courage.

As we heard from Norman Brennan, there are thousands upon thousands of victims who've been let down by the system.

It's time we answered a simple question:

What kind of a society do we want to be?

A society that turns and scurries away from our fellow human beings when they are attacked, raped, cheated, robbed and victimised?

Do we want to be a Walk-On-By society?

Or do we want to be a society that is proud to stand together in the face of crime?

A society that cares in the truest meaning of that word?

I know what I want.

To restore the rigour of our criminal justice system

To strengthen the spine of our society

To repay that brave young women's faith in us

To answer her call for change.

Another letter was written by a policewoman

not to us but to all the victims of a serial crook.

This policewoman did her job so well that the crook was successfully convicted …for over 40 crimes.

And the Court's judgment: a suspended sentence.

Oh, yes and an ASBO

In her letter the policewoman writes (and I quote):

So…this highly plausible fraudster has also convinced the Judge that he should be given a chance…

I am bitterly disappointed, but am also angry and disgusted at having to write this letter to you and all the other victims who have suffered at his hands. (End of quote.)

I get hundreds of letters with the same message.

Police officers like the policewoman in the letter I just read …

the dedicated men and women who are charged with protecting the public find themselves:

thwarted by bureaucracy at every turn …

de-moralised by soft sentencing …

and distracted by navel-gazing initiatives … like the regional merger of police forces.

We know what works.

Chief Timoney certainly knows.

He says: "The key is to empower, trust and hold accountable …. local police chiefs."

That's exactly what a Conservative Government will do.

We'll empower officers like the one who wrote to all those victims

officers whose lives are dedicated to catching crooks and putting them behind bars.

We'll trust the police to get on with the job not tie their hands with more red-tape as the Government continues to do.

And we'll introduce direct local accountability of police authorities to the communities they serve.

And that's essential because crime hits the poorest, the hardest.

If you live in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods you're more than twice as likely to be burgled or robbed.

Labour have proved incapable of facing up to these problems let alone putting things right.

Take our prisons.

Why when Labour can afford to double the number of Home Office bureaucrats don't we have enough prison places for all the criminals?

Because of the shortage of prison cells, criminals are let out early, to commit more crimes, even murder.

Or they're not even sent to prison at all.

Instead we hear that the Government is seriously considering a massive extension of fixed penalty fines.

Not for littering, noise pollution or other nuisance crimes.

No. Under New Labour's plans, criminals will be handed the equivalent of parking fines for mugging, robbing and assaulting decent, law abiding citizens.

And they wonder why the public has lost confidence in the criminal justice system.

Under a Conservative government, people who mug, rob and assault will be brought before the courts and treated like the criminals they are.

They won't be slapped on the wrist as if they've forgotten to buy a TV licence.

And we will provide the prison places to do this.

As a society, we've got to find a way to end the 'carousel of crime'.

Offenders commit an offence, get locked up, get released and then go straight out and commit another offence.

Round and round they go, leaving a trail of victims in their wake.

The only way to stop this absurd carousel of crime …… is to stop criminals being criminals.

Ok, so how do you do that?

Prison can work.

It's just not working at the moment.

Let me describe to you what a typical criminal is like.

He is a man in his early twenties, or even teens.

He probably can't read or write.

He has no job skills.

And he's probably hooked on crack cocaine.

Overcrowding means none of this is properly dealt with in today's prisons.

So when he comes out his chance of going straight is near zero.

That's why half of all crime is committed by ex-convicts.

Half of all crime committed by ex-convicts.

While the criminal is in prison:

We should be providing basic education so he can get a job.

We've got to get him off drugs so he can hold down that job.

And we have to encourage his family to help him go straight.

And understand … this will make prison tougher not softer.

But our responsibility can't end when he gets out. At the moment he's got to deal with a bewildering variety of different agencies …

housing,

health,

employment.

So he gives up

And he goes back to crime.

Our approach will be to encourage social enterprises

to give real support to ex-prisoners.

These social enterprises can succeed where the state fails because they offer one-on-one support:

To get ex-prisoners into jobs and homes.

To keep them clear of drugs and alcohol.

And to stop them falling between the cracks of state failure.

And who will be the biggest beneficiaries of this Conservative approach?

When we get a grip on crime, everyone will benefit:

You,

Me,

And the poorest in our society, who suffer the most.

We've also got to do a lot more to stop young people getting onto the carousel of crime in the first place.

The papers claim David Cameron wants us to hug a hoodie

Well I support that

the only difference between David and me is that I might just hug a little harder and longer

David is absolutely right to promote social responsibility amongst children and to promote the idea of a National School Leavers' scheme.

It will be a high priority for the next Conservative Government to create the maximum number of opportunities for young people

And eliminate wherever possible the temptations to go down the path to a life of crime.

But these aren't the only things we need to fix.

We also have to get to grips with an issue Labour has ignored for nine years in the hope it will go away.

I'm talking about immigration.

Thanks to this Government's failure we've let in hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants not to mention hundreds of dangerous foreign criminals who should have been sent to jail or deported.

That failure to control our borders hasn't just led to more crime and less secure streets.

It's also let down a lot of honest hard-working immigrants who came to this country with something to contribute.

Unlike the Labour government we're not afraid to talk honestly about immigration.

In a few weeks Damian Green and I will publish an analysis of the benefits and costs of immigration.

And we'll lay out the principles on which Conservative policy will be built.

But, I can give you the gist of our report right now: Immigration can be of enormous benefit to Britain … economically and culturally.

But that can only happen if it is properly managed and controlled.

I promise you this.

We will bring immigration back under control.

This year, we've again faced another crucial challenge: The renewed threat of terrorist attack on Britain.

The 7th July bombers were raised and educated in Britain.

This country gave them opportunities and prosperity they wouldn't have enjoyed elsewhere.

And yet they slaughtered 52 innocent people.

They saw themselves as Muslims only. Not as British Muslims. Sadly a small minority of young Muslims share that view.

We need to reconcile that minority with modern Britain.

The reconciliation I'm talking about is more than just tolerance.

It means drawing on the long British tradition of mutual respect.

I respect your religion you respect my religion and we both respect our laws.

Sharia law is not an option in Britain.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in a modern western democracy.

But it must be practiced in a way that respects the same rights of others.

Freedom of speech is an ancient right in this country. But it doesn't mean tolerating imams coming to this country, to preach hatred of this country.

Terrorism is more than just an attack on life

it's an attack on our way of life

on the liberties we hold dear.

Our Party has always stood for protecting our fundamental freedoms.

That's why we opposed the Government on detention without trial.

That's why we've proposed a British Bill of Rights to defend our security and our liberty.

And that's why I remain committed to preserving our fundamental liberties.

Because millions died defending those liberties over centuries.

Because the fundamental liberties I'm talking about are a source of our national strength.

And because our ancient rights define both our identity and the terms of victory we are struggling to achieve in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Labour doesn't understand a simple obvious truth

You can't defend our liberties by sacrificing our liberties.

When it comes to defending our freedom

this government makes the excuse that it doesn't have the laws to do the job and then it passes laws that take away everybody's freedom.

Take the case of Abu Hamza.

Ministers claimed they didn't have the law to prosecute him.

Sohe was left at large to preach hate and foment terrorism against us.

The government's inability to bring him to justice was one of the reasons cited for new terror laws that curbed our fundamental liberties.

Yet when Abu Hamza was eventually convicted on eleven separate counts - six of those convictions came under the Offences Against the Person Act passed by Lord Palmerston in 1861.

Hardly New Labour law.

There's little point in having new laws unless we have a Government with the guts to enforce them.

A Conservative government will never hide behind the false claim that we don't have the laws to tackle extremism or terrorism.

The next Conservative Government has a duty.

A duty to every single person I've talked about today.

A duty to everyone that believes in freedom and liberty.

The young lady I quoted at the start of my talk stated that duty clearly when she said: "You have the power to change this".

We do have that power.

Because with every day and every month that passes the people of Britain are making their minds up.

They know there's a better way to cut crime.

They know there's a better way to sort out immigration.

They know there's a better way to defeat terrorism.

I know what that is.

You know what that is.

the British people know what that is.

A Conservative government."

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