THERE is one area of agreement in politics – early intervention is critical to prevent youth crime and delinquency escalating into violent crime and gang warfare on Britain’s streets.
That much is clear after Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s keynote policy speech coincided with a campaign visit to this region by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott, the Shadow Home Secretary.
Yet this is where the unanimity ends. The reason? Mr Javid’s primary focus is the forthcoming Tory leadership conference while Labour want to exploit the Government’s record on police cuts in next month’s local elections.
However this electioneering – and the further polarisation of political discourse – will do little to make the country’s streets safer for all unless Mr Javid is more collaborative in his approach.
The omens are not good. For, while the use of public health data is important in identifying young offenders before their criminality spirals out of control, Mr Javid has ‘previous’ for circumventing Parliament when he has big policy speeches to make and he was recently rebuked by the Speaker. This at a time when the public want Ministers and MPs to work together on a cross-party basis wherever and whenever possible.
And then there is Mr Javid’s failure to recognise that cuts to police numbers mean the Tories can no longer claim to be the party of law and order. An issue which contributed to the Government losing its overall majority in the 2016 snap election, both the Opposition – and the electorate – are likely to treat the Home Secretary, or his pronouncements, seriously, until he recognises the link between violent crime and police cuts and then explains his future intentions. For, in many respects, his response to this dilemma will, in turn, then reveal if he has the necessary statecraft to lead the country.