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New chapter in the fight against crime
A new era of simple, accessible local crime information for all is at the heart of the Government's new crime strategy, unveiled today by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
From July next year, everyone will have access to a straightforward, street-by-street story of crime in their area from local police crime data posted on the World Wide Web.
The strategy, Cutting Crime: a new partnership 2008-11, also signals a renewed focus on tackling serious violence whilst maintaining a tight grip on anti-social behaviour.
The strategy is published after a decade of falling crime. Since 1997, overall crime has fallen by a third: car crime has halved; and the chances of being burgled have halved as well.
The new approach builds on these achievements but also addresses new crime challenges that have emerged as society and technology has evolved.
Other key elements of the strategy include:
* Less top-down Government. Local partners working to reduce crime, including the police, local authorities and others, will have fewer central targets to meet and less red tape. A new target based on public confidence will encourage them instead to focus on the issues that matter most to their local communities.
* Designing out crime. A new Design and Technology Alliance of independent experts in design, consumer affairs and crime will raise the profile of how good design can tackle crime. Founding members Sebastian Conran and John Sorrell will work with the Home Office to promote innovation, identify incentives for business to design-out crime and advise on what consumers want.
* A focus on young people. This group, contrary to common public perception, are often the group most concerned about crime and are frequently victims. The strategy builds on reforms to youth justice and children's services and focuses on early intervention, including forging ever closer links between schools and the police.
* More joined-up Government. A streamlined approach to policy delivery across Whitehall will be overseen by a newly created National Crime Reduction Board.
The Home Secretary said:
"The reductions in crime we have seen over the past ten years are as much a tribute to the tens of thousands of dedicated people across the country who have worked tirelessly to make neighbourhoods safer as they are to the efforts that this Government has made to support crime fighting partners, reduce unemployment and tackle drugs use.
"But it is right that we lead the way on tackling serious crime, violence and organised crime. In particular, I want to see those who threaten and frighten people with knives facing appropriate sanctions. Over the coming months I will do all I can to ensure this happens."
Deputy Chief Executive of the Design Council Harry Rich said:
"Our work with businesses and the Home Office has shown beyond doubt that if crime is considered from the start in the design of new products and services, it can reduce the opportunities for crime and so reduce the impact of crime and the fear of crime.
"Cheap and simple design solutions in recent years include beer glasses that can't be used as lethal weapons because they shatter on impact like a car windscreen and well-lit, transparent bus shelters that protect travellers from ambush as well as making them feel safer.
"We warmly welcome the creation of a Design and Technology Alliance to make use of design in all parts of the fight against crime and we look forward to working with consumers, business, designers and the police in designing out crime."
Graham Robb, interim Chair of the Youth Justice Board, said:
"The Youth Justice Board supports the aims and objectives of the strategy and is particularly keen to see such a strong focus on prevention and restorative work.
"There is now an established framework for delivering effective prevention programmes across the youth justice system and we welcome this renewed focus, which it is hoped will support continuing success.
"The Youth Justice Board has worked hard to encourage collaboration between communities and partners, which it recognises is central to tackling youth crime - another area given fresh emphasis in the crime strategy.
"The youth justice system will continue to work with young people who offend to address the causes of their behaviour and to make them face up to the consequences of their actions. It is also important to recognise that this group are often victims too, and they need help to turn their lives around in order to make a positive contribution to our communities."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. Simple to use crime information is already posted on some police force websites. The South Yorkshire Police site http://www.beatcrime.info/ is a good example.
2. The Design and Technology Alliance comprises a group of independent experts in design, consumer affairs and crime, including designers Sebastian Conran and John Sorrell. The Alliance will work with Government to raise the profile of the role that design can play in combating crime and anti-social behaviour with both business and consumers.
3. For case studies of positive design solutions which have helped tackle crime see the Design Council evidence booklet (January 2002) - http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/en/Design-Council/3/Publications/?PageNum=3
4. The crime strategy will be available on the Home Office website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk