Tom Richmond: Violent crime response demands better than criminal political complacency

Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
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I’M afraid aspects of the political response to the latest wave of violent crime – and knife attacks – has been so complacent and contemptuous that it borders upon the criminal.

Those calling for a full return to ‘stop and search’ tactics were amongst those politicians, from all sides, who called on the police to scale back this modus operandi because it discriminated against ethnic minority suspects.

And Home Secretary Amber Rudd seemed reluctant to remind Chief Constables – and crime commissioners – that they have the power to decide how best to use the resources at their disposal, and this includes police patrols. Use of body cameras by the police can also assuage human rights campaigners.

However, I do commend Ms Rudd – and senior Labour MP Chuka Ummuna – for being prepared to come at this issue afresh.

Specifically, the Home Secretary has ordered her new Serious Violence Task Force to look at the underlying causes of such crime – including the prevalence of drugs in society, family breakdown and the harmful influence of social media. She’s learned from Tony Blair that ministers must also be tough on the causes of crime.

And Mr Umunna, as a London MP, deserves credit for agreeing to be a member of this new team, saying that his constituents “would never forgive me if I allow tribal, party politics to get in the way of us working together”.

Though operational policing decisions should be taken locally, Westminster politicians are, in fact, responsible for setting the national parameters – and the Task Force should include reoffending after it emerged the intruder stabbed to death by 78-year-old Richard Osborn-Brooks was a career criminal who should not have been walking on the streets if his previous convictions had been taken into account.

I hope the Task Force meets – and isn’t just a wheeze by Ms Rudd to appease her critics. I also implore others to follow Mr Umunna’s lead – politics is at its best when opponents work together constructively and, where possible, consensually. And, most importantly of all, I want it to make a difference so criminals don’t take advantage of political weakness and inconsistency.

TRACY Brabin, the Batley & Spen MP, made a persuasive case on national radio about the need to invest more money in early years education – and the Sure Start centres that New Labour created to help deprived families.

Yet, when she was asked to set out the cost of this commitment, the shadow minister said she did not know. I’m certain she was being sincere, but Ms Brabin – and her colleagues – do appear to be using this defence more frequently.

Why? After all, it’s less than a year since an election where Labour made a virtue of setting out more of its costs in its manifestos than the uninspiring blueprint produced by the Tories.

It’s simple, as the aforementioned Amber Rudd discovered when questions were asked about the extra £40m set aside this week to tackle violent crime. No spending commitment should be made without the party concerned explaining, with precision, how it will be funded.

TO prove my point on public spending, Jeremy Corbyn now promises free bus travel for the under-25s. Really?

The Labour leader says the policy will help 13 million young people and enable them save up to £1,000 a year. He even says it will be paid for using money ring-fenced from Vehicle Excise Duty.

Not at all. If everyone takes advantage of his generosity, it will cost the country £13bn a year according to my very limited O-Level maths.

Perhaps Mr Corbyn will now care to be straight with young voters – and stop taking them for a ride.

I ALWAYS thought the best riposte, in defence of the Royal family, to those with republican leanings in this country was these two words – President Blair.

Perhaps they should be refined to President Corbyn. After all, the Labour candidate selected to fight the ultra-marginal seat of Pudsey at the next election is the Momentum-backed proud socialist Jane Aitchinson who once described Prince Charles as “benefit scrounging scum” and Waitrose shoppers as “real scum”.

This is presumably what Mr Corbyn’s comrades call statesmanship, when, in fact, they mean dictatorship.

ON the landmark 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Tony Blair was back in the spotlight as he recalled meeting victims of the Troubles and how he wrestled with his conscience.

I don’t doubt this – and today’s Northern Ireland is testament to the political progress which had been made before power-sharing at Stormont collapsed in a dispute over a policy scandal (rather than sectarian tribalism).

Yet I just wish Mr Blair gave some credit to his Tory predecessor John Major whose judgement, instincts and determination paved the way for the initial IRA ceasefire. It was a courageous political act which was the precursor to the peace process.

LIKE most responsible homeowners, I take the time – and trouble – to keep the gullies close to my home clear of fallen leaves and other detritus in order to reduce the risk of surface flooding. It’s called personal responsibility.

However it’s not the duty of residents to keep main roads clear. This is why residents pay council tax. Yet, given some councils can’t or won’t fulfil this function, and given how some homes in Leeds narrowly avoided being flooded recently, where does the buck stop? All the more reason why the responsibilities of local councils should be made even clearer.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk