Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why We Must Act

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why We Must Act

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BLUNKETT

STREET crime in London has risen sharply in the last year. We all know it. I have made no bones about it or about my determination to tackle it.

It is early days but our strategies to reduce robbery and bring its perpetrators to justice are starting to pay off.

Like car crime and domestic burglary, street crime in London has begun to fall - by 14 per cent across the whole of the Met and by 21 per cent in the boroughs targeted by the Safer Streets initiative. The Met have done well, but there is more across the whole of government we must do to continue to bring down crime and restore the public's confidence.

Dealing with teenagers and children who believe that their age makes them untouchable is one of the biggest single challenges I face.

All too often, they flout the law, laugh at the police and walk away from court free to offend again. This must stop.

Today, I have decided to change the grounds on which young offenders aged 12 to 16 can be remanded to secure accommodation. At the moment, only violent teenagers can be taken off the streets. I am extending this to cover those persistently carrying out crimes such as car theft or burglary and encourage the courts to use existing powers, with new remand accommodation available to them.

I am closing the loophole in the law that allows these young persistent offenders to walk away from court on bail, free to create further havoc in the community.

There is an unanswerable case for giving magistrates and judges the ability to take these youngsters off the streets.

These powers will come into force first in London and the other nine areas that are part of the Government's anti-robbery initiative from June, going nationwide from September. I know this will be welcomed by all those who have despaired that the courts have seemed powerless to take these 12 to 16-year-olds off the streets.

But crime is not restricted to those aged 12 and over. Last month's picture on the front page of the Evening Standard showing an 11-year-old girl smashing a shop window was shocking. …

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