Labour slams the Tories’ decade of dereliction on crime and pledges to restore the rule of law on Britain’s streets, by staff reporter

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The Labour Party has slammed the government’s decade of dereliction on crime and pledged to restore the rule of law on Britain’s streets, following a shocking collapse in the proportion of crimes solved.

 

Following a record 2.4 million cases being dropped due to evidential difficulties in the last year alone, and more than 90 per cent of crimes now going unsolved on the Tories’ watch, the Labour Party has today announced a new expert commission to draw up reforms to increase the number of criminals caught and brought to justice. 

 

Labour’s new Charging Commission, chaired by the former Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, will be made up of senior experts from across the policing and prosecutorial sectors, and tasked with identifying the reasons for the woeful decline in successful enforcement between the police and the CPS, and developing credible proposals to turn things around. 

 

The announcement comes following the release of shocking new crime data showing the scale of Tory failures on crime and justice after 13 years in power, including:  

A 60 per cent drop in the proportion of crimes solved since 2015  
A record high number of cases being dropped due to evidential difficulties (2.4 million), including a record high number of victims giving up on the criminal justice system (1.6 million) in the last year  
A trebling of the average number of days taken to charge a suspect since 2016, from 14 days to 44 days. 

Labour says this legacy of decline was exacerbated by more than a decade of Tory failure, which saw the hollowing out of neighbourhood policing, and a chronic shortage of detectives.  

 

The damning result of these failures is that the police have spent years overlooking lower-level offences and letting criminals off with impunity, with over a million crimes being “screened out” without any investigation at all by 2017. Victims must have the basic reassurance that every crime will be properly investigated, and it is a testament to the scale of Tory failure on criminal justice that cases have been routinely disregarded from the get-go.

   

Labour’s Charging Commission will inform Labour’s work to reverse the collapse in the proportion of crimes charged, a pledge it announced as part of its crime mission. It will devise robust recommendations in key areas for improvement across the police and CPS, including (but not limited to):  

Increasing cooperation and removing burdensome bureaucracy in joint-working arrangements between the police and CPS – including early charging advice, co-location, joint targets, reviewing redaction rules, file management and disclosure requirements
Improving the quality and speed of police response and investigations, and increasing direct police charging decisions
Improving the quality and speed of charging advice and decisions to prevent delays which lead to victims and witnesses withdrawing
Improving support for victims to reverse the record levels of victims dropping out 
Boosting digital forensics and other technological capabilities across police forces to ensure that more crimes are solved and fewer are dropped due to evidential difficulties.  

 

The participants on Labour’s Charging Commission are:   

Dame Vera Baird, former Victims’ Commissioner (Chair)   
Stephen Otter, former Chief Constable and HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Metropolitan Police   
Drusilla Sharpling CBE, former Chief Crown Prosecutor and HM Inspector of Constabulary   
Alison Lowe, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
  

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commented: “After 13 years of Tory Government, far more criminals are being let off and far more victims are being let down. The Conservatives’ record on law and order is one of damaging decline and collapsing confidence in the criminal justice system, and it is victims and communities rather than criminals who are paying the price. Too often victims of crime feel that no one comes and nothing is done. Yet ministers have failed to act and it just isn’t good enough for so many crimes to never even get a response. 

 

“Labour will turn things around, reversing the collapse in the proportion of crimes charged, rebuilding public confidence in policing and the criminal justice system and restoring the rule of law on Britain’s streets. We will work in partnership with hard working police officers and prosecutors to tackle problems and bring criminals to justice. It should be unthinkable for so many more crimes to face no consequences whatsoever but that is the shameful reality after 13 Conservative years.  

 

“This expert Commission will help us to deliver on our pledge to make Britain safer.”  

 

Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, added“Too often in recent years, we have seen debates around the fall in charge rates descend into a blame game between the police and the CPS, rather than both organisations trying to work effectively together at all levels to punish criminals and protect our communities.  

 

“This new Commission will help a future Labour government develop the solutions and deliver the better outcomes that we all want to see, and which the public have a right to expect. I am delighted that such experienced, dedicated public servants have agreed to join us in that work, and I look forward to seeing the contribution they will make to our long-term mission on crime”.  

 

While, Dame Vera Baird, who will Chair the Commission, concluded: “The woeful collapse in charging rates has exposed victims of crime to intolerable anguish and uncertainty, and we are now seeing record numbers of victims giving up on the criminal justice system altogether. Investigations and prosecutions for serious crimes like rape are in a dismal state, the criminal justice system is in chaos, and things simply cannot stay as they are.    

 

“This Commission will bring together voices from across policing and prosecutions to forensically investigate the causes of this charging crisis, and set out robust recommendations for recovery.”   

Ends

 

Jessica Bayley

Jessica Bayley is an international author and journalist based in South Africa. She writes on international affairs, travel and is also the author of "The Ladies of Belgium"