Headlines: September 13th, 2002

The Prime Minister can boast that he as brought soaring street crime in London ‘under control’ as he promised five months ago.New Home Office figures show that there has been an overall fall in the number of offences in the country’s worst affected areas.

Those areas – covering ten police force areas – have been targeted with a special series of initiatives since April and robberies and snatch thefts have fallen 14%. Action to tackle street crime in London has resulted in a 9% drop.

The Government awarded the Metropolitan Police an extra 13 million pounds to step up their operations against street crime together with additional funding for other agencies involved in the initiative.

The secret of success is being hailed as joint working between all those groups with a role in tackling the problem, and a co-ordinated strategy to deal with it.

As a result the impact of the additional funding for the Met was supported by improvements to the criminal justice system. The Premium Service introduced by the Crown Prosecution Service – to allocate specialist prosecutors to street crime cases and get strong cases to court quickly – and the specialist courts designated by the Lord Chancellor’s department, have seen some offenders sentenced within seven days of the crime.

This has been supported by new Video ID parades which has increased numbers of same day video identification parades, instead of an average of ten weeks for live parades, and reduced trauma for victims and witnesses.

There have also been benefits beyond the initiative on the wider criminal justice system and has led to better and closer working between agencies. This has resulted in the removal of obstacles to progress throughout the system on issues such as enabling doorstep checks to ensure compliance with bail conditions and new powers to remand persistent young offenders.

The initiative has also focused on the wider and more long term issues to bring about sustainable reductions. This has included preventative activity for young people who may be at risk of becoming involved in crime, truancy sweeps and rapid access to drug treatment.

The ten police forces where street crime has been targeted are Avon & Somerset, Greater Manchester Police, Lancashire, Merseyside, Metropolitan police, Nottinghamshire, West Midlands, Thames Valley, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire.