BLUNKETT GETS STREETWISE; Home Secretary David Blunkett Brought His Team to Liverpool Yesterday in the First of a Series of Visits to Major Cities. JANE WOODHEAD Reports
Byline: JANE WOODHEAD
ECHO readers challenged Home Secretary David Blunkett with a series of hard hitting questions during his visit to the city.
The ECHO teamed up with the Home Office to provide 10 readers with this unique opportunity.
They were invited to a special question and answer session at the Unity Theatre in Hope Street to confront Mr Blunkett on issues which are of the greatest concern to them.
The question and answer session was hosted by broadcaster Felicity Goodey who praised the efforts the ECHO has made getting involved in various campaigns to encourage people to clean up the city and also to identify the yobs who bring terror to our streets.
John Suffield, from Marlborough Road,Tuebrook, asked will the Home Secretary's resolve be diminished by the Judiciary's reaction to his proposals to increase the tariff for those found guilty of murder?
Mr Blunkett said: ``Please be reassured that my resolve will never be diminished. Murder is the most serious and heinous of crimes and I share public concern that some murderers seem to be serving a relatively short spell in prison. I am not prepared to allow sentences to be passed for the most horrendous, shocking crimes which do not reflect either the punishment required or the need to give a clear signal to perpetrators that we will not tolerate their presence in our society.''
Angelo Feliciello from Mount Pleasant asked what is the best way to tackle Liverpool's drug problems and would Iain Duncan Smith's idea on lots of rehab for the under 25s be the answer instead of sending them to prison?
Mr Blunkett's replied: ``We are spending record amounts on tackling drugs, funding will increase by 44% between 2002 and 2005. This year alone we are investing pounds 1.2m.This is resulting in more people presenting for treatment, more services, shorter waiting lists and more drug workers being employed. ``Iain Duncan Smith's idea would not work because it puts all our eggs in one basket. More does need to be done to further expand numbers in treatment and our target is to double these figures to 200,000 by 2008.''
Michael Mayers from Windsor Road, Tuebrook, a victim of anti social behaviour, asked: Why will you not help us with this problem Mr Blunkett? He said: ``I am well aware from the people I have met in Liverpool how anti social behaviour can blight people's lives.
``We have a Bill before Parliament at the moment which will give the police,environmental health officers and communities the powers to take these yobs on.''
Joe Robertson from Beversbrook Road,Norris Green asked why can't the police have more money for more officers to patrol our estates?
The home secretary replied: ``We are implementing an ambitious programme of police reform to ensure that our police service is the best in the world and we are substantially increasing police funding.
``We have put record numbers of police on the streets. These police officers are supported by new Community Support Officers.
``We are also driving forward reforms to cut inefficient working practices that keep officers off the streets and are investing heavily in new technology to make the best use of officers' time. …