31/03/2005

Howard to 'wipe the smile' off criminals' faces

Conservative leader Michael Howard has announced tough plans to deal with yobbish behaviour on British streets.

Planning to "wipe the smile" off "yobs" faces, in a get tough speech on crime, Mr Howard said that police should have the confidence to "eyeball" hooligans, "invade their body space" and "challenge and confront" any unacceptable behaviour.

Mr Howard said that a Conservative government would "beef up police muscle power" and make combating "thuggery" a priority.

The Conservative leader accused the Labour government of "losing the plot" on crime. He said: "Decent hard working families are regularly intimidated by yobs on their streets and in their town centres. It makes me sick that people have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

"In today's Britain no one seems prepared to take a stand - to hold these arrogant young yobs to account for their appalling behaviour. Instead of yobs being afraid of the police, ordinary folk are afraid of yobs. In Britain we are in real danger of slipping into defensive policing. Mr Blair is creating a culture which puts moral correctness, form filling and box ticking before intervening and confronting criminal behaviour - however minor."

Mr Howard said that a Conservative government would make the police more accountable, by making forces publish weekly crime statistics on the internet so that local communities could see the progress being made in tackling crime.

Other plans unveiled by Mr Howard during his speech included: recruiting more police; scrapping central targets; cutting 'red tape' and giving local people the power to decide how their communities are policed.

(KMcA/SP)

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