“Fighting crime is a Labour cause” says Keir Starmer as he launches Labour’s second national mission, declaring tackling crime as “the unfinished business in my life’s work to deliver justice for working people”, by staff reporter
Building on his pledge that the next Labour government will restore confidence in every police force to its highest ever level, Sir Keir will outline in full, the next Labour government’s mission to halve serious violent crime and raise confidence in the police and criminal justice system to its highest levels.
Committing to four ambitious targets – on police confidence, solving crime, knife crime, and violence against women and girls – the Labour leader will say that with his leadership Labour is the party of law and order and the Conservatives are out of touch with the reality of modern Britain.
Keir Starmer says he will draw on his career as a lawyer to outline his personal belief in the “principle I’ve been proud to serve all my adult life – one rule for all”.
He will say: “As a human rights lawyer, fighting for families with young children, trying to escape mould-infested accommodation, or for freedom of speech in the McLibelcase. With the Police Service of Northern Ireland, advising them how to bring communities together – make the Good Friday agreement work, and at the Crown Prosecution Service, as the Director of Public Prosecutions – the same principle.
“Everyone protected, everyone respected, no-one denied the law, no-one above the law. Not the murderers of Stephen Lawrence – who, for a time, thought they were, not Al-Qaeda terrorists, and not MPs, Labour or Conservative, gaming the expense system to line their pockets. I prosecuted them all and I’m proud of that. One rule for all.”
Starmer will say that it’s “always working people who pay the heaviest price” for crime, with working class communities too often “living under its shadow”. Asserting that trust, confidence and security are issues of equality, he will say it’s what led him to come into politics.
“I grew up working class in a small town, I know how important it is to feel safe in your community. If you don’t have a big house and garden, the streets are where your kids play, your community is your family, your neighbours – your eyes and ears.
“You have to feel a sense of trust, of confidence, of security, it’s what gives you roots.
“But as somebody who has worked in criminal justice for most of my life, I also know that far too often, the inequalities that still scar our society, class, race, gender, find an expression in the very system that is supposed to protect us all, without discrimination.
“As Chief Prosecutor, the more and more case files I read, the more and more I could see those ugly inequalities at work. That’s why the mission today matters to me. I’m proud of my previous work, proud of my record at the CPS – but this is personal.
“Yes, it’s Labour’s plan to tackle the crime wave gnawing away at our collective sense of security – of course it is. But it’s also unfinished business in my life’s work to deliver justice for working people.”
Keir Starmer will say that the Conservative Government has overseen a “recipe for impunity, with criminals invited to do whatever they want”. He will say that with serious violence rising, high crime and low charge rates, the Tories “can’t see the Britain they’ve created”.
“No urgency, no reform, no big agenda – nothing. I could say it’s the usual Tory sticking plaster politics – and it is, but this is complacency on another level.
“It’s like they can’t see the Britain they’ve created, and maybe that’s it. Their kids don’t go to the same schools. Nobody fly-tips on their streets. The threat of violence doesn’t stalk their communities. They don’t see the problems, and so they’re complacent about the need for solutions, out of touch with the realities of modern Britain.
“They should try and walk in your shoes for a day or two.”
Keir Starmer’s record as Director of Public Prosecutions includes changing the law the guidelines on rape cases in court, and changing the law that gave prosecutors the right to appeal a bail decision. His work gave extra protections to women bravely coming forward to report violence and rape.
The Labour leader will commit his government to halving the levels of violence against women and girls within a decade. Expanding on his promise to modernise policing, he will say:
“You can’t defeat misogyny without robust policing, but you can’t have robust policing without defeating misogyny. So, we’ll put specialist domestic abuse workers in the control rooms of every police force, responding to 999 calls, supporting victims of abuse. We’ll get a specialist rape unit in every police force. And we’ll also set up dedicated rape courts – the current prosecution rates are a disgrace.
“We all know how hard it is for women to come forward, that the criminal justice system only ever sees the tip of the iceberg on sexual violence, and that the experience of going to court – the way victims are treated there – just doesn’t work.
“I’ve been pushing for action on this for nearly ten years, but we don’t have a government capable of looking this problem in the eye. Mark my words, a Labour government is coming – and we will bring forward a proper victims’ law.”
Acknowledging that the promises are ambitious, Starmer will double down on the need to be ambitious and bold to secure the change the UK needs. On the possibility of a ‘new way of governing’, based on unlocking the pride and purpose that is in every community, Keir Starmer will say “it can be done”.
“From the people of this country, I draw belief. Change can happen – and it can happen quickly. People forget – it was only in the 80s when the physical punishment of children in schools was banned, and huge cultural change has followed.
“So why can’t we imagine a society where violence against women is stamped out everywhere? Why can’t the future citizens of our country look back at this generation as the one which turned the page on misogyny? Which protected our young boys, and made our streets safe?”