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News - 18 June 2008
Louise Casey's report to government lists 30 proposals
Louise Casey, former head of Tony Blair’s Respect task force, calls for a raft of changes and initiatives in her report, Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime, to the government. The government says they are already responding.
Casey's report claims that the public simply don't believe government and police statistics about falling crime levels. Instead of targets based on police-gathered crime statistics, she wants targets based on public perceptions of crime reduction. She calls for the Home Office to stop producing national crime statistics, and for the task to be handed over to an independent organisation.
Other proposals include:
- Work projects for offenders should be run by private companies and other organisations rather than the Probation Service as part of moves to toughen non-custodial sentences.
- A commissioner should be appointed to champion crime issues on behalf of the public.
- Community work for offenders should be tougher, and offenders should wear highly visible tabards or bibs to identfy them as such while they carry out the work.
- The ability to detain and issue fixed-penalty notices for disorder should be added to the standard set of powers held by police community support officers. Currently these powers are at the discretion of individual chief constables.
- The courts service must provide more information, and more regularly and systematically, to the public about cases, sentencing decisions and what has happened to offenders.
Research for the report found that just over half the public thought that crime was the most important issue facing the country and that only one third were confident that the criminal justice system met the needs of victims. When asked what was the most important issue on crime, almost a third said too lenient sentences.
For its part the government says it is already getting on with some of it, such as increasing the visibility of community sentences so that offenders 'pay back' to the community, providing regular local crime data and online maps, and investing in a new team of community champions. It also plans to create 'kitties' to fund small-scale neighbourhood and community projects such as better lighting and more activities for young people. It has also appointed Casey as government 'Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Adviser', advising on building community confidence in neighbourhood policing, meeting local priorities on crime and policing and promoting citizen engagement in justice.
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