Labour anti-social behaviour policy: new plans for crime explained - will victims choose offenders’ sentences?

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Labour would let victims choose offenders’ punishment under new plans to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The Labour Party has promised tougher punishments for anti-social behaviour as it launches its new plan to crack down on crime.

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed has said he will update Tony Blair’s 1990s “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” slogan - putting prevention at the heart of the party’s law and order approach. Sentences for crimes of this type will also be strengthened in an attempt to tackle reoffending rates.

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It comes as Freedom of Information requests from The Times revealed that nearly two million reports of anti-social behaviour had gone unattended over the past three years. Meanwhile, community service sentences - which are usually handed out for anti-social crimes - have halved over the last decade, dropping from 185,265 in 2011 to 72,021 in 2021.

So how exactly will Labour tackle this problem? Here’s the opposition’s plan to stamp out anti-social behaviour - as well as what’s been said by key figures in the party.

What are Labour’s new crime plans?

The headline policy from the Labour Party’s new crime approach is its plan to allow victims of anti-social behaviour to choose how offenders are punished. This would be done by allowing victims to sit on new community payback boards - and oversee sentences to ensure they are completed.

According to Reed, the new style of criminal justice will give a “voice directly to victims.” He explained to The Times: “Victims will be able to select the unpaid work that offenders carry out, so victims will be seeing justice done.”

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Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed wants to update Tony Blair’s 1990s crime slogan. Credit: Getty ImagesShadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed wants to update Tony Blair’s 1990s crime slogan. Credit: Getty Images
Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed wants to update Tony Blair’s 1990s crime slogan. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

Labour is also looking to crack down on reoffending rates. It will conduct a review looking into how countries such as New Zealand provide specialist treatment for those who may be vulnerable to reoffend - such as people who live with domestic violence or have parents with serious mental health problems.

The Shadow Justice Secretary said: “Rather than just giving up on those people or letting them get out there and offend, I want to keep people safe and keep our community safe. You can do that by tackling the effects of the trauma that leads them to offending. By doing it, you make them much less likely to offend again.

“So if you really want to keep people safe, we’ve got to update Labour’s old slogan: ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ and make it fit for the future. This whole science around trauma in early years didn’t exist in the early 1990s when Tony Blair came up with that phrase. So I want to update it for today.”

Another idea included in the new plans is to widen the scope of community sentences. This means offenders could be asked to do tasks beyond the usual of clearing wasteland, decorating community centres, repairing churches, and removing graffiti.

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What else has the party said about crime?

Outside of anti-social behaviour offences, Labour is also looking to be tougher on theft. This came after its analysis of crime statistics found that more than one million thefts went unsolved last year after police failed to find a suspect, something it slammed as “disgraceful”.

The analysis also revealed that the overall charge rate, which is the proportion of crimes that result in a suspect being arrested and charged, has fallen to a low of just 5.4%, down from over 15% seven years ago.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Theft and burglary are awful crimes and should be properly investigated, not just left for the victims to make an insurance claim. The Home Secretary has no plan to turn this around and is instead obsessed with gimmicks rather than a serious plan to catch more criminals.”

Labour said it would put 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers on the streets. Credit: Getty ImagesLabour said it would put 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers on the streets. Credit: Getty Images
Labour said it would put 13,000 more neighbourhood police officers on the streets. Credit: Getty Images | Getty Images

She added that, in order to tackle this, Labour would put  13,000 more neighbourhood police officers on the streets to “fight crime at its source and support communities.” The MP insisted the plan was “fully costed”, funded by merging procurement for forces in England and Wales.

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Earlier this year police chiefs in England and Wales promised that forces will attend all residential thefts.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “As the Home Secretary (Suella Braverman) has made clear, we welcome the commitment for police attendance at home burglaries. We continue to support the police, including through record investment and the recruitment of 20,000 additional officers by March 2023.”