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Howard: Labour's early release scheme has led to 4,500 extra crimes

Speech in Rothwell

"It's great to be here in Rothwell this afternoon: out of Westminster and away from London - meeting people; listening to their concerns; addressing the challenges facing our country.

Yesterday I published our Manifesto - our Timetable for Action.

It focuses on people's priorities: school discipline; cleaner hospitals; more police; controlled immigration; and lower taxes.

It's short and it's simple.

Why - because I want people to break the habit of a lifetime.

I actually want people to read it - that's right, read it.

And when they've read it, I want them to hold me to it - because a Conservative Government won't just make a difference, we'll be different.

In the real world if you screw up you risk losing your job.

I don't see why politicians should be any different.

Do you?

So in the Government I lead - if ministers don't deliver on their commitments they'll go.

It's as simple as that - they'll be out on their ear.

Accountability is my watchword.

That's how we'll clean up hospitals - by putting matron back where she belongs: in charge.

That's how we'll restore discipline at school - by giving head teachers back control over their classrooms.

I'm not prepared to allow a minority of disruptive kids to ruin the education of the majority.

And that's how we'll tackle crime.

We'll give people the power to elect their own local police commissioner.

Here in Northamptonshire, local people will have the chance to vote on their police commissioner.

Your local police commissioner will have a sign on his desk "I'm responsible - the buck stops here".

They'll work with the police to put muscle power behind the public's priorities - fighting crime and disorder.

Those are people's priorities - not more and more speed cameras to fill Treasury coffers.

I am determined to get a grip on crime.

Unlike Mr. Blair I won't pussy foot around when it comes to punishment.

Some people say punishment is a dirty word - it's not.

Actions have consequences.

If criminals break the law - they need to know they'll be punished.

And Britain's yobs are top of my target list.

It's wrong that decent, hard working families have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

It's time to give these arrogant youngsters a dose of the fear they've been dishing out to the rest of us.

Now I use that word deliberately - fear.

I want to make them fear the police.

Let there be no misunderstanding: I want to make yobs fear the police.

That's why we'll recruit 5,000 more police - real police - every year.

We'll get rid of the absurd, politically correct form the police have to fill in every time they stop someone - just stop someone, not stop and search.

A police officer stops half a dozens unruly teenagers on a Saturday night and he has to spend the best part of an hour filling in forms.

I want the police out on the streets not chained to their desks.

Next, prison.

When criminals are out of circulation they cannot commit more crime.

It's not rocket science.

That's why we'll build more prison places.

And that's why we'll end Mr. Blair's early release scheme.

Over four and a half thousand crimes have been committed by criminals let out early by Mr. Blair - and over five hundred of them were violent.

How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter?

It's an outrage.

And under the Conservatives it will stop.

There'll be no more half time sentences for full time crimes.

And do you know the Liberal Democrat policy on repeat rapists?

It's to scrap the automatic life sentence.

That's right - scrap it.

No wonder they want to give prisoners the vote - who else would vote for a policy like that?

Oh and by the way if you are watching this on TV and you are a yob, a burglar, a mugger whatever.

I suggest you think twice before voting Conservative: because people have had enough and we're not going to settle for it anymore.

You may think you're tough - but a Conservative Government will be tougher.

All my political life I have stood up for people who play by the rules and pay their dues.

I believe passionately in fair play.

We are all British - we are one country, one nation. And we should all have to play by the same rules.

Britain deserves a government that upholds the law - not turns a blind eye when the rules are bent or abused.

People will face a clear choice at the election: more police and tougher sentences with the Conservatives or five more years of talk under Mr. Blair.

As the child of immigrants, as a state school pupil, as the first person in my family to go to university, I am driven by a profound sense of pride in Britain.

I'm ambitious for our country.

We've got everything going for us.

We could be doing so much if only we had a government that rewarded people who do the right thing, who play by the rules.

And that's what a Conservative Government will do.

Imagine waking up on May the sixth to see Mr Blair re-elected.

Imagine how you would feel - imagine five more years of smirking; five more years of promises; five more years of talk.

Well you don't have to settle for that.

Use your vote to send a message to Mr Blair - enough is enough.

Use your vote to take a stand.

It's time for change.

It's time for action."

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