What's the agenda behind the Respect Agenda?
If one belives the government's own statistics (the recording methods for most of which have been changed since Labour came to office to
make them look successful for electioneering purposes increase accuracy), since a peak in 1995, crime in this country is now back to roughly the same level it was 25 years ago.
Take criminal damage - an antisocial form of behaviour if ever there was one, including as it does graffiti, petty vandalism and the like - current figures show that we're currently experiencing less of this than for 25 years. It's the same for non-vehicle-related theft.
Meanwhile, violent crime - which with all the reports of "happy-slapping", armed robberies and the like one might assume to be through the roof - has declined to its lowest level in 15 years.
Assuming one takes the government's figures seriously (which, considering they must be the same figures our overlords are working with to determine which policies to pursue, we pretty much have to, even though minor "antisocial" crimes often go unreported), it looks like - despite my protestations the other day - this "Respect" thing is a meaningless PR stunt - an attempt to reassure the public could be all that is really needed.
Could it be the case that it is actually only the fear of crime which is the problem? Certainly the last 25 years have seen a massive boom in public access to news, with 24 hour news channels and the internet all jostling to attract audience attentions with ever more shocking stories. And we all know that horror stories are often the most compelling - what better than peadophiles and teenage muggers to take the place of the bogeyman of our childhoods?
But if this is the case, then why is dear Tony, in launching this "Respect" nonsense, telling us that
"The scale, organisation, nature of modern crime makes the traditional processes simply too cumbersome, too remote from reality to be effective."Has he not been reading his own government's crime statistics that show a decline in criminal activity over the last ten years? Has he gone mad, and decided to ignore statistics (accurate or otherwise, but official nonetheless) that could easily be used to show that his government has actually been quite successful on the crime front - as a commentor on my piece earlier today contended.
Or is Blair merely deliberately adding to the public's apparently misplaced perception that crime is out of control in yet another attempt to extend the power of the state?
We already know that Labour want to get rid of Jury trials, so it's no surprise that Blair also mentions "a jury utterly bemused". He also catagorically admits that his legal reforms have "reversed the burden of proof". His government has tried to dictate to judges how to try cases. His government have scrapped habeas corpus. But "now... we want to take these powers further."
I thought this Respect thing was meant to reduce our fear? Personally, the more I think about it, the more terrified I get.