Liberal Democrats

F13: Doing What Works to Cut Crime

This motion and the accompanying policy paper substantially update and develop policy in the fields of crime and criminal justice. In particular they develop new policies on tackling the problems caused by drug abuse, increasing the accountability of the police, support for victims, rehabilitation of offenders and tackling the new threats of cyber crime. Existing policy on the penal system and rehabilitation of offenders is set out in policy motion Rehabilitation Revolution (2012), existing policy on drugs is set out in policy motion Protecting Individuals and Communities from Drug Harms (2011) and existing policy on policing and police structures is set out in policy motion Cutting Crime by Catching Criminals (2008). 


F13 Doing What Works to Cut Crime (Crime and Criminal Justice Policy Paper)

(Passed with Amendment 1)

Conference welcomes the fall in crime that has occurred under the Coalition Government and the work done by Liberal Democrats to achieve it.

Conference rejects the approach of the Conservative and Labour Parties, which has too often ignored evidence of what works, needlessly compromised our civil liberties and freedoms, and wasted money.

Conference believes that:

i) Crime policy must be based on the evidence of what works.

ii) More preventative work is required, particularly through joined-up working with other public services.

iii) Too many victims of crime still have a negative experience in the system.

iv) Too many criminals are not required to confront their behaviour.

v) More action is required to tackle violence against women and girls.

vi) Too few prisoners receive effective pre-release support and re-offending rates remain unacceptably high.

vii) A new preventative, health-based approach is required to tackle drug and alcohol misuse.

viii) Stop and Search remains a source of deep mistrust between the police and the public, and requires reform.

Conference therefore endorses policy paper 118, Doing What Works to Cut Crime, particularly its proposals:

1. To prevent crime by:

a) Promoting community restorative justice to target those at risk of offending.

b) 'Designing it out' of products and new developments through changes to Building Regulations, making the police statutory planning consultees and raising awareness about anti-theft measures in electronic devices.

c) Expanding the use of peer group influence on those at risk of offending.

d) Utilising the experience, knowledge and innovation of the third sector and creating a more joined-up, innovative approach towards service delivery.

e) Working closely with our European partners and the wider world to prevent serious and organised crime.

 

2. To adopt a new evidence-based approach towards drug and alcohol-related crime that recognises that its causes are primarily health issues by:

a) Passing the lead in those areas to the Department of Health, keeping law enforcement in the Home Office.

b) Making decisions on drug classifications from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs binding.

c) Subject to implementation work, adopting a model whereby those arrested with drugs for personal use would be diverted to treatment for problematic users and education or Fixed Penalty Notices for those who are not.

d) Subject to a review finding that there is good evidence of effectiveness (in relation to public health and reduced criminal activity) from international contexts, we would invite that review to consider potential frameworks for a strictly regulated cannabis market with tight controls on quality and strength to curb organised crime.

e) Imposing severe penalties on those who manufacture, import and/or deal in illegal drugs - the dealing of illegal drugs underpins organised crime and is rightly a serious offence.

3. To improve support for victims of crime by:

a) Creating a national helpline for the victims of sexual offences.

b) Implementing a single point of contact for victims who want to complain.

c) Ensuring that all hate crimes are aggravated offences and more harshly sentenced.

d) Promoting Restorative Justice which places the victim at the heart of rehabilitation.

e) Working with the Department for Education to ensure that sexual consent, Female Genital Mutilation, violence against women and girls, and domestic violence properly feature on the curriculum.

f) Ensuring those suffering from domestic violence, who have retracted their evidence against their partner because of fear and intimidation, are not prosecuted for making false allegations.

4. For more effective policing in which the community can have confidence, including:

a) Building an assessment of harm into the crime figures.

b) The wider use of crime maps and GPS data so that resources can more effectively deployed.

c) Widening the use of body-worn cameras to make sure that Stop and Search is conducted properly and to secure better evidence.

d) Tightening up Stop and Search with new Codes of Practice and, for Section 60 areas, a requirement for judicial authorisation.

e) A presumption in favour of asset and back office sharing between forces and mergers where the local community want it; subject always to retaining a link between the police and local communities.

f) Replacing Police and Crime Commissioners with democratic Police Boards.

g) Expanding the current pilots of mental health related liaison and diversion and street triage models.

h) Tackling corruption and re-building trust through mandatory CPD for all police officers; strengthening the IPCC and improving local complaints procedures; ensuring corruption investigations are independent; and reporting progress in these matters annually to Parliament.

i) Safeguarding civil liberties by limiting kettling and the use of undercover officers.

5. To focus the Criminal Justice System on what works by:

a) Gathering outcomes data court by court and creating a single body to spread best practice throughout the system.

b) Improving the diversity of the Magistracy.

c) Safeguarding jury trials in the Crown Court and streamlining court procedure.

d) Injecting alternative sources of funding for criminal legal aid through the use of restrained assets and company directors insurance so as to guarantee a diverse market of providers.

6. To end the cycle of reoffending by:

a) Embedding ‘through the gate’ support for those approaching release and ensuring that the day of release is one after which support services are available so that a routine can be established.

 

b) Ending the imprisonment of women who do not need to be incarcerated through a Women's Justice Board along the lines of the successful Youth Justice Board and by taking the interests of children into account when sentencing.

c) Piloting intermittent custody models including weekend or evening custody, curfews and GPS tagging to limit the liberty of offenders whilst allowing them to carry on working.

d) Devolving the custody budget for young offenders to local authorities.

e) Seeking to reduce the number of young people from BAME backgrounds in custody.7. To tackle cybercrime by:

a) Directing police resources towards preventative and awareness-raising work and making it easier to report it.

b) Aligning the basis of criminal liability for comments made on social media, on the telephone and between people physically present.

c) Making 'revenge porn' a criminal offence.

d) Increasing penalties for Data Protection Act breaches while establishing effective public interest defences in this act and others (including the Computer Misuse Act 1990, RIPA and the Bribery Act 2000) to protect responsible journalism; and ensuring greater protection for legally privileged and journalistic material from requests for telephone and other records.

e) Ensuring that there is a named person in every school to help the victims of cyber-bullying.

 

Applicability: England and Wales, except 1 e) (lines 32-33), 2 b)-e) (lines 39-53), and 7 d) (line 117) which are Federal, and 1 b) (lines 25-28), 2 a) (lines 37-38), 3 e) (lines 62-64) and 7 e) (lines 118-119) which are England only.

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