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Howard League blog · 22 Nov 2019

General Election 2019: The Liberal Democrat Manifesto

My second blogpost in a series of commentaries on the political party manifestos looks at the Lib Dems.

I am concerned that the party plays into the scaremongering about street-based violent crime, yet most people experience crime (if at all) either in the home with domestic abuse or with fraud. Yet again, we see a party talking about putting police back to potter about on the streets.

It really is time for all the parties to be a bit more grown-up on this and admit that police walking the streets do not prevent or detect crime. If they are walking in pairs they don’t even talk to anyone else, and so it is pretty pointless police deployment.

If we need more police, it is more intelligent to use them to speed up investigations, concentrate on the complex work of prevention and detection of fraud and internet crime, prevention of domestic abuse and other more serious crimes.

The claim that there is an ‘epidemic of youth violence’ is both spurious and dangerous. Most young people go about their lives growing up into wonderful young adults. While there is a problem, as there always has been periodic outbreaks and public scares about violence among teenage boys, it is limited and containable. Inflammatory language is not helpful.

Yet again, we see a party talking about putting police back to potter about on the streets

Of course investment in services for young people is welcome. It is not clear exactly what is being suggested, and if the Lib Dems simply intend to focus on the young people they see as the problem, I don’t think it would helpful. All teenagers have seen their facilities cut.

There are some proposals that should be welcomed. Ending ‘disproportionate’ stop and search sounds good. I am not sure what this means. Interestingly, this was published at the same time as New York has cut ‘stop and frisk’ by around 90 per cent. Mayors are apologising for its racism and there is recognition that it is an ineffective tool.

I welcome the commitment to have women-specific services but I am not convinced by the proposal to have a special board to oversee women in the justice system – better to keep them out.

The prison policy is well-meaning but woolly. It repeats the same phrases that politicians from all parties have been saying for decades – that prisons should be places of rehabilitation, short sentences will somehow be reduced, and there should be investment in work and education.

Overall, I would have expected better and sharper.


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