Crime is a working class issue. From nuisance and anti-social behaviour, through to low prosecution rates for rape and domestic violence, and the long-term failure to combat organised crime and corporate corruption – failures in the criminal justice system are eroding the quality of life in our communities, and even belief in a democratic system.
And the poorest suffer the most: twice as likely to suffer violence, or be burgled, three times more likely to be robbed; six times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence, according to Public Health England. According to the public health expert Michael Marmot: “Anti-social behaviour undermines social cohesion and community function and increases community dissatisfaction and feeling unsafe in the community, all of which undermine health”.
I want the police to become crimefighters – not crime administrators. I want the criminal justice system to become an engine of rehabilitation and social justice. That means more police officers, more probation staff, more prison staff and a fully resourced courts system.
It means removing the pressure on police forces to deal with problems that other services are too stretched to handle – like homelessness, addiction and mental health problems. A strong welfare state, with resilient communities, public services we can rely on can free police resources to prevent and prosecute crime.
A combination of cuts, staff shortages, and routine racism have undermined morale and leadership in too many of our police forces. There can be zero tolerance for the kind of racism and misogyny revealed in recent investigations. I want to see swift and transparent justice for the victims where policing goes wrong. And more powers for police and crime commissioners to demand change.
I was proud to stand alongside protesters on the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020 – just as I played a leading role in justice campaigns for victims of police racism in the 1990s. I want to see the Spycops enquiry speeded up, so that the full story of politicised policing and misconduct can be revealed – and to make sure it never happens again.
Fighting crime effectively means more national co-ordination. Alongside our local police forces I want to see the National Crime Agency beefed up into an FBI-style body whose main purpose is to convict the organised fraudsters, the major drug gangs, the people traffickers and the corrupt businesses that launder their money, and the money of the super-rich. That agency, together with the Serious Fraud Office, should have independent powers to pro-actively investigate allegations of corruption among politicians, too.
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