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Davis: A Conservative Government will drive crime out

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"First, we'll start by recruiting more police and cutting back on their paperwork.

Paperwork is the enemy of police work.

Unfortunately, that's something this Labour government doesn't seem to understand.

Overstretched police officers trying to control disorder in town centres on Saturday nights have a hard enough job as it is but now, thanks to Mr Blair, they have to fill in a form every time they stop someone.

Here's the form.

It's red tape gone mad and is typical of the Labour mindset that values bureaucratic box ticking but knows nothing about practical policing.

A Conservative government will scrap this crazy regulation.

But we'll do more.

A Conservative Government will recruit an extra 5,000 police officers every year.

As Rudi Guiliani proved in New York, more police is the first step in turning the tables on the yobs.

Less paperwork and more police: that's the way to make our streets safer and that is what a Conservative Government will deliver.

Second, we'll get a grip on late night drinking.

If you can bring yourself to read the one hundred and eighty pages of licensing guidance the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has issued to local councils, you'll find that when a bar applies for a late licence there's a presumption it should be granted.

This defies common sense.

Local councils know best how to tackle the challenges their local communities face.

If they believe a late night licence could cause havoc they should have the freedom to refuse it - without having to worry that they'll be overturned in the courts.

Third, a Conservative Government will give local councils the power to stop irresponsible drinks promotions. We'll change the law to allow local councils to attach conditions to licences, preventing irresponsible drinks promotions.

Fourth, we'll give councils strong, new powers to tackle late night drinking hotspots. If you have too many pubs and clubs in one area you risk trouble - it's not rocket science.

That's why in New York licences can be refused on the basis that there are already enough bars or clubs on that block.

Yet in Britain, government guidelines explicitly discourage local councils from setting fixed closing hours or introducing staggered closing times.

So a Conservative Government will give local councils the power to block late licence extensions in drinking hotspots.

Fifth, we'll give local communities a far greater say in licensing decisions.

Today councils must automatically grant a licence if there are no local objections - yet Whitehall guidelines make it very difficult for local councillors to object.

Nor can local residents object to "temporary event notices" - that cover things like raves of up to 500 people.

And thanks to the Human Rights Act councils are now being advised that councillors cannot consider applications from their own ward because of possible "bias".

So a Conservative Government will allow councils to refuse applications even where there are no objections. And we'll allow councillors to register objections as well as consider applications from their ward.

Another way in which this Government seems unwilling to address the causes of crime has been their apparent refusal to see the link between crime and housing provision.

Under Mr Blair, planning guidance is increasingly driven by the discredited philosophy which advocates rabbit hutch developments with a large percentage of social housing. Little provision is made for car ownership and private space is discouraged in favour of communal areas.

These are precisely the kind of ideas that led to the social disasters of the 1950s, 60s and 70s when council estates were designed as modernist utopias without regard to the consequences for the real people who had to live in them.

Such places became breeding grounds for crime and we're still living with the effects today.

This is classic New Labour - taking the failed ideas of the past and rebranding them as exciting and innovative policies for the future.

A Conservative government will put this muddled and misconceived thinking back where it belongs - in the dustbin of history - and concentrate on implementing proven techniques of 'building out' crime.

That means developing a build environment on a human scale with plenty of private space, road access and easily observed communal areas.

We'll actively discourage the kinds of concealed walkways, dank underground parking, burglar-friendly alleyways, pedestrianised gathering points and brutalist high rise towers that create danger and alienation.J

We're all familiar with the empty rhetoric of Mr Blair's "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime."

A Conservative Government will drive crime out with tougher policing; we'll legislate crime out with more sensible drink and drugs laws; and we'll design crime out with better planning guidelines.

People will face a clear choice at this election: voters can support the Conservatives, who have a plan to crack down on the yob culture; or they can vote for five more years of talk under Mr Blair."

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