What a person’s or a political party’s position on issues relating to crime is may influence greatly their prospects of getting elected. This does not mean, however, that the people in power or the political parties are that far from each other in their stances.

  • Over the last ten years the crime rate has fallen.
  • In that same period the United Kingdom’s prison population has rapidly grown.
  • This is despite the fact that prison is the most costly response to crime (at about £300 a night) and rates of re-offending of released prisoners are extremely high.
  • We now imprison at a greater rate than any other country in the European Union, we imprison more children than anyone else, and the female prison population has doubled in the last ten years.
  • In the last ten years we have been governed by both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.

So what is going on?

Surveys have shown that Britons are becoming increasingly afraid of being a victim of crime when the actual chance of being a victim of crime is at its lowest in 20 years. In response politicians promise to be tough on crime and, in some cases, on the causes of crime too. Here are the main policies of the three main parties:

Labour: Has overseen the greatest portion of the growth of the prison population. Boasts record numbers of police supported by new ‘community support officers’ and ‘tough new laws.’ Has recently focused on crime committed by young people, anti-social behaviour, and ‘persistent and prolific offenders.’

Conservative: Promise a ’war on crime’ and the building of more prisons.  Believes that prison sentences should be longer and intend to do away with early release schemes for prsioners. Claims that police performance is slipping and police are hampered by form-filling and red tape. Want to recruit 5,000 more police officers per year.

Liberal Democrat: Would like new ‘tough liberalism’ to be introduced into criminal justice policy. This includes more training and education for prisoners, selling inner-city prisons and building ‘modern prisons’ outside of city centres, and introducing ‘community justice panels’ staffed by members of communities to determine sentences for some offenders.