Critically assess New Labour's policy towards crime prevention and community safety since 1997. Since new labour came into power in 1997 they have made many promises about the problem of crime in Britain. In this essay I aim to discuss these promises and policies and assess three main areas; firstly whether they have worked, secondly whether labour have achieved what they set out to do and lastly if labour have had a good effect on British criminal justice policy. Before I can assess New Labours policies on crime I must first look at what was happening in the criminal justice system before 1997.
In the 1950's and 60's There was a somewhat rational response to crime, concerns were expressed as much by business and the insurance industry as they were by government, this was the era of Pre – politicisation of crime. Practical responses to crime came from publicity campaigns; local crime prevention panels and the police offered crime prevention advice. By the 1970's there was a criminal justice crisis, society held a common view of 'nothing works' there was a generally perceived problem of lawlessness.
The declining confidence in the criminal justice system and its institutions such as, the police and prisons led to a general dissatisfaction within society. During the End of the 70's and early 80's change was beginning to happen. There was development of the situational model a more focused approach to crime was being trialed. In 1982 the home office crime prevention unit was established. The late 1980's and early 90's saw the Conservative Party in control of government. Between 1988 and 1994 saw the safer cities programme, central funding for 40 cities across the UK.
There was a lack of progress where central funding was absent and the policy ran out of steam post 1993. Before the creation of New Labour the conservatives were the unchallenged champions of law and order. Successive Conservative home secretaries offered a tough approach to offenders and prided themselves on their hard-line reputation. Labour was often seen as soft on crime and criminals and, in some extreme local council, even anti-police. That all changed with the emergence of the Tony Blair-led New Labour party with its famous slogan "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".
Each Labour home secretary has appeared determined to appear even harder than his has or her conservative predecessors have. 1997 saw the election of the labour party; they had reinvented themselves and now go by the term new labour. ' The labour party is a democratic socialist party, it believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few.
Where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect. ' (Clause 4 of the labour party constitution) In 1997 new Labour set out clear ideas of what they believe in; Social justice, strong community and strong values, reward for hard work, decency, and rights matched by responsibilities. This is a broad definition of what new Labour stands for it gets a lot more specific when focused on the different areas of society.
For the purpose of this essay my focus is on its crime policies. New labour made the problem of crime a main concern for them in 1997 and set out some clear aims they intended to tackle during their stay in office. ' Tough on crime and tough on the caused of crime' This was what Tony Blair promised to be in his government policies on crime. People have a right to feel safe in their homes and in their communities, at the heart of labours approach is the drive for social order and security. (Adapted from a labour website information page on crime)
In labours six years in office many things have been achieved concerning crime for example; 1) There has been a cut in overall crime – crime is down by 25% since 1997 and the chance of being a victim of crime is at its lowest for 20 years 2) Police record numbers – latest figures show record police numbers they are up by over 9000 since labour came to power in 1997. 3) Tough new laws – Outlaw of handguns, wide range of anti – social behaviour acts. 4) Tackling the roots of crime – Early intervention through schemes such as sure start.