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Howard: Taking a stand against the yob culture

Speech at Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"In Britain today there are millions of hardworking people who do the right thing.

They abide by the law.

They teach their children to respect others.

They go out to work so that they can provide for their families.

They take pride in their homes and their local communities.

But their hard work is not recognised or rewarded.

One vivid example of the divide between the people who do the right thing and the people who do the wrong thing is Britain's thriving "yob" culture.

Decent, hard working families are regularly intimidated by yobs on their streets and in their town centres.

It makes me sick that people have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

I've lost count of the times hard working families have told me there's no point complaining because nothing ever seems to happen.

In today's Britain no-one seems prepared to take a stand - to hold these arrogant young yobs to account for their appalling behaviour.

This is making the everyday quality of people's lives worse in very real ways.

The seemingly small but very insidious effects are felt everywhere.

The husband and wife who no longer walk home from the local pub on a nice evening; the dad that daren't take his kid to the park to play football anymore; and the pensioners who've become prisoners in their own homes.

Why? All because of the fear of being intimidated.

What does it say about our society that we let youngsters - mere teenagers - get away with terrorising our communities?

It's living proof that for all his talk Mr. Blair has quite simply lost the plot on crime.

Instead of yobs being afraid of the police, ordinary folk are afraid of yobs.

In America they have defensive medicine - where the system makes doctors worry as much about being sued as making their patients better.

In Britain we are in real danger of slipping into defensive policing. Mr. Blair is creating a culture which puts political correctness, form filling and box ticking before intervening and confronting criminal behaviour - however minor.

In Britain today we have too few policemen, filling in too many forms and chasing too many central government targets.

Just imagine another five years of it.

If you are thinking "We shouldn't have to settle for this", then I simply say: don't.

There is a better way.

It's time for action.

It's time to fix the system so that the police can get on with their job - can follow the instincts which take brave men and women into the police force and exercise their judgement.

So today I am announcing our five point action plan to put the fear back into the hearts of the yobs.

I don't want members of the public looking over their shoulders - I want the yobs looking round in fear.

Instead of greeting the police with contempt I want them to fear them.

It's time to give the yobs 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.

First, we will recruit 5,000 more police every year.

As Rudi Giuliani showed in New York more police is the first step in turning the tables on the yobs.

Second, we'll scrap central government targets for the police.

They'll have just one objective "to cut crime and disorder".

It'll be as simple as that.

Third, we'll make the police publish weekly crime statistics on the internet so that local communities can see exactly what progress they are making.

In New York Compstat - the weekly publication of crime stats division by division - meant the police stopped trying to explain the problem away and started taking action to tackle it.

There's a word for it - accountability.

Fourth, we'll take an axe to the paperwork which keeps the police chained to their desks.

We will scrap the politically correct McPherson inspired form the police have to fill in every time they stop someone - that's right just stop someone, not stop and search.

A policeman stops a teenager in the street in front of his friends.

The policeman asks him what he's up to - and then he has to fill out a form right there on the street.

What signal does that send out to the yobs terrorising our local communities?

It's quite clear to them whose side the law is on.

I want policemen and women to have the confidence to eyeball these characters; to invade their personal body space, just like they're invading ours; to confront and challenge their unacceptable behaviour.

And fifth we will give local people the power to decide how their communities are policed.

Elected police commissioners will reflect the concerns of the people who elect them - the people who want to see more police on our streets, not screeching around in their panda cars.

Police muscle power will go behind the public's priorities - tackling crime and disorder: vandalism, rowdiness, thuggery.

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

I trust people.

I believe local people should have more power - after all they understand what is best for their local communities.

I want them to have a say.

The rights of the community need to be centre stage.

And the way to do that is to make those rights central to the democratic mandate of an elected police commissioner.

By contrast, Mr Blair's Government lacks the political will to take a stand on crime, to listen to the people instead of the do-gooders.

I'm taking that stand now.

Beware yet another election where Mr. Blair's Government says one thing on crime to get your vote before an election, but delivers quite another thing afterwards.

If you want action to tackle the yob culture; if you believe in action on behalf of the decent law abiding citizens - then there's only one party that will take a stand, only one party that will wipe the smiles of their faces and put fear into their hearts - the Conservative Party.

But what I've announced today is only the beginning - because this election is going to be as much about crime as anything else.

Throughout our election campaign the Conservatives will be releasing a series of initiatives with one very clear purpose: to turn the tables - to make the yobs afraid of the police again.

Crime tells you a lot about a country - about the values it holds dear and the direction it's heading in.

I believe in a Britain where government upholds the law - not turns a blind eye when it is broken.

A Britain where people respect others and respect for property.

A Britain we can all be proud of."

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