Friday, 19 February 2010

Round-Up: Conservatives Criticised For Hyping Fear Of Crime

Reading Conservatives have been slammed by local commentators after announcing their crime manifesto for the general election.


violent crime controversy

Rob Wilson MP outlined a selection of 'tough new measures' in their 'blue-print' to combat rising crime levels, as he said that violent crime has increased by 198% compared to ten years ago.

He was following the Conservative party line set out by shadow Home Affair spokesperson Chris Grayling MP - who has been roundly condemned for ignoring the changes introduced in 2002 in the way statistics are compiled as a means of manipulating public perceptions and undermining confidence.

Chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, spoke out against the Conservative claims which were made 'without qualification' and could be deemed 'likely to mislead the public'. This was a powerful argument as it directly contradicted Alok Sharma who said Labour's initiatives had undermined public trust.

Datablog describes in more detail how the political row has been caused by distortions arising from confusion, while BBC's Mark Easton attempts to clear up any confusion with a selection of graphs.

Over on my other blog I suggest that 'ramping up' emotional responses to issues and offering knee-jerk reactions is always a sure sign of a party on the ropes.

Labour candidate Anneliese Dodds spots an opening to score a political point of her own by issuing a call for Conservatives to withdraw their discredited claims, while LibDem Cllr Warren Swaine was highly critical of the press release issues by Mr Wilson - which he says is manufactured outrage copied out from a central office press pack.

Earlier LibDems had picked out Audit Commission research into crime figures in the borough.

Cllr Gareth Epps, who is standing against Mr Wilson and Ms Dodds in Reading East, said, "considerable work remains to be done both to tackle crime itself and residents' perceptions and fears about crime."

And leader of the LibDem council group on RBC, Cllr Kirsten Bayes, identified the growth in economic inequality since Labour came to power as the primary cause of the problems which must be tackled, emphasising how the quality of services still do not match the levels needed.

This is particularly relevant, as Anna Roberts reports, there are still high levels of outstanding cases remaining unresolved.

Cllr Daisy Benson prefers to concentrate on more practical efforts to cut crime, explaining that LibDem proposals are endorsed by experts.

She explains that although crime is a perennial issue for local residents and there are some indications that anti-social behaviour has increased under Labour the way to solve crime is not by introducing more top-down measures in yet another crackdown, but by improving community enagement.

She argues that communication between authorities and the public is the only way to share information and help educate people who may be in vulnerable positions.


property crime controversy

The Daily Mash picks out how Burglary is a Dying Art as it is being replaced by online fraud as a more common threat - a claim which is backed up by official analysis.

Reading’s local police area commander, Acting Superintendent Jim Weems, recently explained that burglary has actually fallen by 9.1%.

But obviously this will come as no comfort to people who have become the unfortunate victims of the crime.

Paul Walter is particularly concerned that the tories are using sensationalist statements to pander to householders by pushing for a change in the law which would defend the use of 'grossly disproportionate force'.

He is strident in explaining how the tories have been spouting codswallop as a cheap way of gaining splashy headlines that will only make matters worse.

And Cllr Epps reiterated the LibDem position that there is much which can be done to beat burglary.

He promotes the very cheap and simple work done through the Safer Reading Partnership which has recently attracted funds to the provide basic safety measures that are the greatest deterrent.

In an almost identical article Reading Post picks up on the scheme which will continue to accept applications for grants until 31st March.

And finally, free-thinker Elizabeth Thomas has poured scorn on a recent intiative by the Christian Police Association to tackle burglary through faith.

This followed circumstantial reports that domestic burglary fell by 30% after a church-going Police officer began to promote prayer as an effective way to catch criminals.

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More stories about local crime issues

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