Headlines: September 2nd, 1999

Prime Minister Tony Blair is not the only person who is feeling pain from a public service propensity to adopt change slowly. Jack Straw and his five Home Office Ministers are disappointed at the failure of some police forces and other public bodies to develop effective strategies for reducing crime. The Government has pledged to cut the long term growth in crime, to reduce vehicle crime by 30 per cent within five years and to slash drug related offending by 25 per cent by 2005. The faltering strategy is putting these targets in jeopardy.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which came into effect in April this year requires local authorities and the police, together with other key agencies and the community, to work together to develop and implement strategies for reducing crime and disorder. Although all organisations covered by the act have taken up their legal responsibility, some have complied with the letter rather than the spirit of the legislation. One third of strategies published in April had no specific outcome targets for burglary and/or vehicle crime. The indications are that in some cases partnerships engaged in abstract policy making rather than seeking to make a real difference to the quality of life.

In a drive to get the crime strategy back on the rails, Jack Straw, his Ministers, HM Inspectors and senior Home Office officials will tour the country to talk to the people who are delivering local crime fighting partnerships. Their aim will be to make sure they are on track to contribute to national targets. It is the first time that the full Home Office Ministerial team has been mobilised in this way in the effort to fight crime.

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