Thank you very much indeed Chief Constable, and it is a very great pleasure to be with you all here this afternoon. I am sorry I am still at the stage when they say 'and now I introduce to you the Prime Minister', I keep looking around, but I'll get used to it. Can I say too I am absolutely delighted to see people here who I know have come with all sorts of different interests in the topic of law and order. Because it is an important issue throughout our country, and this is the first one of these slightly different types of Question Time from those in the House of Commons, at least I hope so.
The purpose of it is to have some sort of exchange of views. Now obviously there will be all sorts of questions we can't get round to answering in the time available. I just wanted to say that if there are things that we either haven't answered properly, or questions that we didn't have time to have asked and answered, then there will be an address given to people where they can write to me and you will get an answer from me personally.
I have seen first-hand this morning the heartache that can be caused by crime. And I have also seen some exciting and imaginative projects that can regenerate areas that have been plagued by crime, and rebuild a strong sense of community, where the opportunities we have are matched by the responsibilities that we owe to the community in which we live. And this afternoon I want to talk to you briefly about what this Government will try and do to help combat crime. As I say, the audience is made up of people from all walks of life who have a direct interest in this subject.
I have always believed in a very very simple truth about crime, that any policy has to match prevention and punishment. Crime will always rise as long as people are shut out from society's main stream. Without the hope of a proper job, a stable family, a network of friends, the chance of getting on. That is common sense and that is why it is important that we provide opportunities for our young people - we tackle the levels of unemployment, the problems of housing and so on. But at the same time those that commit crimes have got to be punished and young offenders - often one-boy crime waves - who cause mayhem on estates, have to be dealt with, and can be dealt with, and should be dealt with far more quickly. Individuals are responsible for knowing right from wrong even at an early age and it is our aim to reform the criminal justice system to bring more criminals to justice more quickly and to bring the criminal justice system into line with what I think is common sense.
I hope that we have tried at least to make a fast and effective start at putting in place the type of programme that can work. Since 1 May, I think we are going to get a bit of competition from outside now! Still I am glad to see that the Council is cutting the grass or doing whatever else it is that it should be doing, just to show me they are all working hard at the task.
Since 1 May we have done a number of things. We have called on magistrates courts to play their part with other services to take early action and begin to fulfil our election promise to half the time it takes to get juvenile offenders to court. Secondly, we have announced the re-structuring of the Crown Prosecution Service to make it more effective so that you actually have a Crown Prosecution Service in an area as you have a Chief Constable in an area and that is better for accountability. And thirdly, we have begun to work on a Crime and Disorder Bill that is going to reform the youth justice system, tackle disorder and regenerate neighbourhoods to bring back a feeling of safety on the streets. And finally we are also setting out further proposals to protect children from paedophiles.
Today I can announce a further measure that I believe will send out the clearest possible signal that young offenders should take responsibility for their actions. This Government will bring forward in its major Crime Bill a new punishment for those young people who have committed anti-social crimes and who have vandalised or damaged property. We will give the courts new powers to impose what we call recreation orders on those that have committed such crimes. That means that they will be made to repair the damage they have caused. The vandal that has wrecked a bus shelter will have to paint and rebuild it, the mindless thug who has ruined someone's hedgerow will, if the victim agrees, have to make good the damage. The 15 year-old tearaway who spray paints on a public building will be made to erase it. This is a power that will be given to the courts that they can use at their discretion. Real practical punishment to bring young criminals face to face with the crimes that they have committed. Crime and fear of crime limits peoples' lives. From the pensioner in her flat who not only fears to go out but also fears to stay in her own home, to the Asian youth who is harassed in the street because of his background or religion, to families who suffer burglaries and vandalism shattering their peace of mind.
Crime hurts us all. It is also often a frightening and traumatic experience to give evidence in court about crime. I was shocked as no doubt you were by the terrible case of the victim of rape who was cross-examined by her assailant for six days. We are going to look more closely at what can be done to protect vulnerable witnesses and to stop that kind of cross-examination. And indeed we have already started to provide greater support for witnesses by enabling Victims' Support to expand its court witness schemes to more courts so that victims and defendants do not have to wait in the same area, and by setting up a national victims helpline so that victims can get advice and support.
Now all these measures by themselves taken in isolation don't transform everything, and I think one of the things that it is well to be honest about right at the very beginning is there are no easy answers and that we are not going to solve all these problems. But I do think that by putting it right at the centre of the agenda we at least give ourselves the best chance to focus on the types of things that are being done. And also some of the things that are working in different parts of the country. I saw myself in Redditch this morning on the Woodrow estate how a co-operative approach between police and Local Government and local people can make a difference. And what we want to do is not just to say to you the things that we are doing, but to learn from you the things that you think we should be doing. And you know sometimes there are going to be problems in doing it. There may be problems of simple practicality, there may be problems of resource, but let us at least know the types of things that the people of this country want to have us put on the agenda to get this thing right. So the purpose of today is not just for me to talk to you and tell you what we are doing, but to listen for what you think we should be doing. And in that way to establish the right dialogue and the right partnership that gives us the best chance of making this country a safer and therefore better place to live in.
Question: What will be the age group for young offenders? Will it affect youths over 16?
Chief Executive-Chamber of Commerce: I noticed in the manifesto that the Government have identified that crime is an issue facing business. And we have just conducted a survey where 1 in 3 of our members have been affected by crime in the last six months. And 30% of those have had problems more than three times. I would be interested to know what it is that you intend to do in terms of trying to reduce crime, and how it affects business, or any way in which you can give support to those businesses who not only incur increased costs through loss or vandalism, but also have increased insurance premiums and in some cases businesses have to close down because they can no longer afford to be insured. I would be interested to hear your comments on that please?
Question: I would like to know what the Government intends to do about the rising menace of domestic violence?
Prime Minister: First of all, in relation to the recreation for young offenders, actually the age limit has not been formally decided though I think it would be wrong were you located it before. I think there is a case actually for taking the younger age as well because much of the vandalism is committed by children as young as ten or eleven. And I think it is important also to see this as part of a package of measures that can be used in this way. I think that the key thing here is that we do actually get the agencies working together. Again when I was in Woodrow this morning I saw the way that all the various agencies co-operated together so that for example they come together to have a youth club were the house had been provided, where the kids could go to so they were taken off the street. These are things that help at the same time as the measures of punishment that we need. I think it is worth just pointing out that there are very few crimes that lead actually to a conviction. So if we are not preventing crime as well as punishing those that commit crime then were are never really getting to grips with the problems.
This brings me on to the second point that was made from the gentleman from the business community. I do think it is important that young people that are committing crimes do understand there is going to be a penalty that follows as a result. And one of the things that we are trying to prevent now is continual repeat cautioning where people are given caution upon caution upon caution and it doesn't work because they are not actually believing that anything is going to happen as a result of the offences they are committing. Now in the end that actually doesn't help the young person either. What is important is that the young person committing a criminal offence realises that if they do that then there is a stepped up penalty as a result of it. I hope that that has some impact on the crimes that affect businesses that are very often burglaries and vandalism and so on. I think that halving the time it takes to get persistent juvenile offenders to court helps the court because many times there are crimes committed by young people when they are out on bail or waiting offences to be tried. But I also think the best thing that can happen for business is that we get the right co-operative crime prevention approach in local communities, with the police and Local Government, local businesses, local schools.
For example one of the great problems we face is the vandalism that is done to school buildings within our society. The actual burden on the school system in terms of insurance costs, in terms of repairs is enormous. It runs into millions and millions of pounds a year. Now again I think it is important that we get a framework within that crime prevention, it can happen. And that is why one of the proposals that we will be consulting upon over the next few months is a proposal to place a statutory responsibility for crime prevention on local authorities so that they are given a specific responsibility to co-ordinate crime prevention in their areas.
On domestic violence, yes we are committed to strengthening the law. I also think there is another important part of the law that we are committed to strengthening and that is in dealing with the residents in estates that are making life absolutely hell for the whole of their local communities. Now the Community Safety Order idea that we are launching in the new Crime Bill would give the power to local authorities and the police to put people under an obligation to behave themselves. We all know there can be give and take with neighbours. I know people that have ended up having to leave their homes even leave an area because of the way their lives have been completely ruined by people behaving in an irresponsible way. Some people say that it is a very draconian thing to do but I think you are entitled to certain minimum standards of behaviour from people if you are living next door to them. So I hope that that will help as well and that will have a bearing on domestic violence too.
Question: would like to ask would the Prime Minister consider that the blasphemy laws should be extended to include other religions?
Question: You mentioned you would be providing funds to help Victims Support provide a witness service in more crown courts. Would this also extend to the magistrates' court where in Worcester we are actually trying to implement a magistrates witness service locally? Funds that we have available only last between 6-12 months. We would like to know if there are more funds available for us to carry that forward?
Question: Statistics have shown that racial harassment is on the increase. Is the Government considering any new measures to make racial harassment a criminal offence?
Prime Minister: First of all let me deal with the point about blasphemy laws. We have no plans to change the laws there but I think that what is important - and I will say a word more about this in a moment - is that we make sure there is proper racial tolerance towards people from all ethnic backgrounds. But you will know the enormous difficulties that there are - technical and otherwise - in changing the present blasphemy laws.
On the question I was asked about Victim Support in magistrates' courts, we are looking at how we can extend this and also the funding for it. I was Shadow Home Secretary for a time and I remember one of the things that impressed me most clearly was the need to protect victims and witnesses. Indeed, one of the things we would like to do is try and extend protection to witnesses as well as victims of crime. There is a witness intimidation programme which is in place now, but I think there is a lot more that could be done. And one of the reasons why it is so important to do it is that if people are intimidated or frightened from giving evidence - and I am sure police officers will bear this out - then it just becomes impossible to mount a successful prosecution. And an awful lot of intimidation does go on. At the moment people can often be sitting in the same room as the person that has committed the crime. It is a tremendous intimidation, so I can't give you a specific promise on that but we are looking at it at the moment. And extending the process of Victim Support is one of the aims the Government has.
Finally, in relation to racial harassment. Are there any new measures? Yes; in the new Crime Bill there will be a measure making racial violence or racially motivated violence a specific offence and of course racial harassment is an offence now. Violence is an offence now, but the idea of this is to give the power to the courts to increase the penalties if it is done in a racially motivated way in order to provide a proper deterrent for people. And again I think it is simply part of a decent and civilised society that people whatever their ethnic background should be able to live in peace and harmony together. I don't pretend that it puts that right over night or even puts it right at all but it does send a very clear signal that this is behaviour that we will not tolerate and that it will lead to a severe penalty.
Question: Prime Minister, just perhaps to endorse your remarks on witness intimidation. It is a real problem. It's a problem with three tiers: the very serious criminality when people's lives are in danger; and at a lower level of harassment and then at another level which is a perception that if people feel they can't give evidence or they can't tell the police and they can't make statements, then they simply won't and the whole system breaks down. Could I, Prime Minister, comment on a local scheme which I think has great national initiative and it is the Victim Support Scheme and the police together here in Worcester together with local businesses have acquired some pagers. When people go to the crown court to give evidence instead of sitting in the court room looking at the defendants and getting the sort of stares that can put people off, they are given a pager and can go off and do some shopping, have a cup of coffee. And when it is time to come and give evidence they are paged and they come and give evidence. That sort of scheme I think has a great deal of advantages and attraction to it.
Prime Minister: Sounds like a very good idea, very simple. Are there any police offices here actually, who know of cases of intimidation and harassment of witnesses? This has been a big problem, hasn't it?
Question: Yes the problem with witness intimidation is increasing and in my own division over the last 12 months we have had to re-locate three individuals who have been associated with serious trials. That is an increasing problem to us. I would welcome your views really, on whether or not monies could be made available maybe through the central Treasury. If funds could be made available perhaps on a regional basis which could be drawn upon by Social Services, housing and the police perhaps in a multi-agency way which could then be utilised to provide better support for witnesses that are being intimidated.
Prime Minister: When you say that you relocated people were these people that were victims of crime or witnesses in serious court cases?
Question: Both, one victim and two witnesses in a very serious case had to be relocated.
Prime Minister: Well I will certainly look at the point that you made. This is the sequestration of assets from the proceeds of crime you mean and pushing that back into the system in order to help with this. I wouldn't like to give you an answer off the top of my head but I will certainly look at that carefully. It's interesting.
Question: I would like to ask your opinion on whether you think the House of Lords should have the power to alter sentencing after the conviction?
Question: Prime Minister, many of the sanctions already available to youth court magistrates are unsatisfactory. We feel there are insufficient sanctions available for breeches of bail conditions. At present we cannot deal effectively with breeches of parental bindovers. Supervision orders ordered by the courts are not supervised because of lack of resources. We hope that future legislation will be very carefully though through so that it can be effectively put into practice.
Question: I want to ask you is it possible to free more funds to have community policing as in the bobby on the beat. Security measures such as CCTV on estates, and also other means to actually make homes safer and our children on the streets. It is not just the children it is the adults as well.
Prime Minister: Thank you. First of all in relation to the Law Lords, of course there are powers to appeal against sentences and one of the things the new Bill is going to do is to bring forward guidelines on sentencing. Since it is quite important that there is some sense of common guidelines operating throughout the country in the way that people are sentenced. There is nothing actually that leads to a greater sense of injustice as where people see the same crimes being treated in a completely different way in different parts of the country. The proposals for the ability to appeal against sentences that are inappropriate will of course remain.
In respect of the sanctions in youth courts one of the things we want to do by speeding up the time it takes to get people to court, is to give greater power in the hands of the magistrates. I will look very carefully at what you say in relation to the parental bindovers and the supervision orders. The problem with parental bindovers is presumably the sanction that you have if they are broken is it? The bindover is simply a bindover and there are no powers to prosecute as a result of that.
Question: It has not been properly thought through.
Prime Minister: When the proposals for the new Crime Bill are published then we will have detailed consultations particularly with those who are actually going to administer the system in the magistrates courts and make sure we try and get some of these problems right. If I can speak absolutely bluntly, the political problem that I think politicians of all political parties face is the difference between good intentions and delivery on the ground. Because you are never going to get a politician to stand up and say they don't care about crime and don't want to do something about it. But trying to get the right practical measures I think is very difficult indeed. I hope that we will make some progress there.
And finally in relation to CCTV and community policing. That is precisely of course what we are trying to do. We have been encouraging the development of CCTV. Community policing is very very important but I do say this - and I would be interested to know what the Chief constable thinks on it - it is not enough simply to have the bobby on the beat. We all like that and everyone feels reassured when that happens, but you do need to get all the agencies in the area wording together. And, again, it is important not merely that there is someone simply walking down the street who is a police officer but that they have established the right relationship within the local community. Where they are trusted, were they can get the feedback that they need and were they are working with other people in the local area. Because otherwise it is just a piece of show and it is not really doing proper good for people. I personally believe from what I have seen that the idea of putting within a statutory framework a responsibility for crime prevention of which community policing is a part is a very important step forward and we will welcome the views of not just the police and others, but tenants associations upon the ideas that we will be publishing sometime in the autumn.
Question: Yes I mean I entirely agree we are trying to pursue four tracks of policing: targeted policing, targeting particular problems at particular times; responsive policing, responding to incidents as they happen; partner policing, which is all about community safety - and there are some very good examples in this city, such as the City Forum bringing people together to tackle the problems. It is a combination of everyone who uses the city: the City Council, the Crown Gate Shopping Centre, all the sorts of voluntary organisations and statutory organisations, to look not just at community safety in the city but all other aspects and with substantial success. And then the last bit is local policing which is bobbies on the beat which people more and more want and which is increasingly difficult to provide and we do our best not forgetting of course the magnificent job done by Special Constables. So it is that whole combination together that I think can make a difference and that encompasses both the community and the police.
Prime Minister: What is the biggest problem as a Chief Constable for getting more people out on to the beat?
Chief Constable: Well, everyone says why not go back to the bobby on the beat? Of course in this part of the world 30 years ago police officers worked for 24 hours. They didn't work for eight hours and they lived in villages. They lived in a police house in a village. The whole social fabric has moved on from that to people living in their own houses and people wanting to work for eight hours rather than for that sort of length of time. When I look over my force of 2,000 which covers the counties of Hereford and Worcester and Shropshire, and take away the people who have to be available for responsive policing who need to be available for targeting policing, detectives, people on the motorway, people for domestic violence, people for racial attacks, all of those sorts of people. The number that is actually left you then divide by five because that is the number you divide by to have the people on the beat. And that can't leave very many over an area 90 miles by 60 miles. But it is a public demand and one that we must try to meet.
Prime Minister: And the Special Constables how many of those would you have?
Chief Constable: We have one of the highest levels of Special Constables. There are almost 600 Special Constables in West Mercia Constabulary. They come from all walks of life. Many of them are local people working in local areas doing a job of work on their estate with the local PC. And many work in city centres and quite frankly I couldn't manage without them. They do a magnificent job.
Question: Something should be done about alcoholic lemonade and fruit juices. These workers, magistrates, probation officers, police, highlight the problem associated with excessive alcoholic consumption. There is now evidence to suggest that young people are using alcopops at about the age of 14 years old. What in your opinion Prime Minister can be done about alcopops? I have learnt today in the news that the Co-op has actually taken them off the shelves.
Question: My son was murdered 9???? years ago. The person that committed this crime was given a life sentence, which meant life. He has recently this year received a letter from the previous Home Secretary stating that he will not be released back out into society. My question to you is will you still honour the findings of the previous Home Secretary?
Question: Welcome to Worcester, PM. Can I please ask what specific proposals you will bring forward to combat intrusive and aggressive begging? We have a problem with this in the city and how will you also balance that legislation with support for projects such as day centres and hostels that are seeking to work with people who have genuine problems and who are in need of support?
Prime Minister: In relation to the alcopops as you may know, Jack Straw the Home Secretary has already announced action on this and we are reviewing now whether there are particular things that need to be done. He has brought together the manufacturers and I think there is a real and serious problem here that we have to tackle. It is important to reinforce responsible behaviour in relation to this. I won't say more than that at this stage but I think you will find that he will tackle it, and tackle it pretty clearly.
In relation to the case, I don't want to say anything in case it maybe legally difficult, there may be a legal obligation to reconsider decisions of previous Home Secretaries, I simply don't know. If you give us your name and address I will make sure the Home Secretary writes to you and sets out the position in relation to you and your son. I understand obviously the concern that you have.
Finally, in respect of intrusive and aggressive begging, I think what is important is obviously there is the legal ability to deal with this problem. And we have got to make sure that we deal with it because aggression from anyone whether they are beggars or anybody else is wrong. I got into some slight trouble as you may recall a few months ago when I made some comments about this. My basic view is that this not a problem we should have on the street. Now, what is going wrong? Well, first of all I think there is action that we can take on some of the causes of this like unemployment and the problems that people have and the homelessness, which is why we have a Bill in Parliament next week which will release some capital receipts for local authorities to be able to do more in terms of housing for people while we are tackling long-term unemployment.
But I do think there is a basic problem that we are going to have to confront as a Government - indeed any Government would - and that is the relationship between community care policy and what is happening on the street. I remember in my own constituency there was the largest mental health institution anywhere in Europe called Winton Hospital. The programme of community care there and all around the country means that all these institutions are slowly closed and the idea is that people are put back out into the community. That is fine if the infrastructure of community care is available. If it isn't what it actually means is that they are out there on the street not looked after either, a terrible burden for their families or the police or local authorities or whoever it is. So I think we need to examine that relationship between community care, the mental health institutions and what is happening in some of the hostels. It is a problem, and people are sort of torn because you don't like to appear unsympathetic or lacking in compassion to people who are in very difficult circumstances. But on the other hand it is not acceptable and people feel very vulnerable when they are challenged in that way. So I think we need to do this and I stick by the remarks that I made some months ago, which is to say the answer to begging is not to simply to feel sorry for people. The answer is to do something to ensure that people are taken off the street and given a proper roof over their heads. If they are not and they are in a position where they can't look after themselves then the community care should be there in the local community available to do it. What we shouldn't do is leave this problem on the streets where it is now.
Question: Could I first of all congratulate you on what action you have taken about the most significant substance misuse we have which is tobacco abuse, and the ban on tobacco advertising will be a major improvement on health. But on the alcohol side we have recently done a survey locally which shows that ???? of local children are drinking alcohol regularly. That alcohol is being bought illegally but the local authority has a problem in identifying that because the use of decoys to catch people is controversial. Can that situation be clarified please?
Question: I come from a rural parish and I represent the rural parishes today. We have heard from the Chief Constable that there is a great shortage now of what I call PCs out there on the job. And most of them have been withdrawn from the rural parishes and to city centres because I guess there is more crime there. But at the same time that leaves no constables out there in the rural parishes. And usually police constables don't actually live in the rural parishes, they have gone for the cheaper houses in the cities. So usually after dark after say 6.00 in the evening there are no manned police stations in our larger towns. I guess most probably there are no manned police stations between Hereford city and Worcester city, and people are concerned about this. They don't see police constables anymore. They wonder where they have all gone.
Question:I want to come back on the subject of domestic violence if I may. How do you think as a society we can reconcile the idea of traditional family values with the needs of women and children who suffer abuse and violence in their own homes?
Prime Minister: First of all the gentleman who talked about public health and alcohol being bought illegally. This again is part of the process that we undergoing now to toughen up the laws in relation to alcohol abuse and those that are selling alcohol to people under age. I hadn't appreciated the problem about the use of decoys. I will reflect on that and get back to you, if I may. This is presumably a huge problem. The link between alcohol abuse amongst young people and crime, this is one of the main things is it?
Chief Constable: Traditionally, Prime Minister, yes. There is a problem with young people sending in their elder brothers and sisters to buy alcohol, alcopops and other types of alcohol from off licences. And it is something we are aware of. It is something the industry and us must do together. Dillons in this city have a very imaginative scheme where they have agreed voluntarily not to sell alcohol to anyone who appears to be under the age of 21. The law doesn't say that, but as the shop's policy they have said that. Now I would think there might be something in that and it is something that we are feeling is spreading across this county and perhaps further. But it is difficult for a shopkeeper to say 'you're 18, you're 19, or you're 17'. It is extremely difficult.
Prime Minister: Are there shopkeepers who will clearly be selling to people who are obviously underage?
Chief Constable: Yes I am sure that happens Prime Minister.
Prime Minister: And do you know about the use of decoys?
Chief Constable: Decoys have been used. This is sending someone in who obviously looks 14 or 15 or 16 to buy alcohol or cigarettes at an earlier age and then taking a case to court on the fact that they have bought the alcohol. There are legal difficulties around this and the lawyers would advise you better than I. But it is to do with provocation, it is to do with setting the crime up. It is that sort of thing. So it is not entirely out of the question, but there are difficulties around it.
Prime Minister: Well that is something for our law students to ponder over.
Now in respect of the rural parish would you like just to respond to the gentleman here?
Chief Constable: Yes indeed. Two questions, Prime Minister, one is to do with police stations. It is true that we have closed police stations and we have also closed the communications centres. They are diverted elsewhere. The reason for that of course is to make police officers more available not less because I would rather have my police officers out on patrol than sitting inside a police station. And so in many of our smaller towns they have been taken away from sitting in police stations so that they can then be out on patrol. The difficulty again as in every rural area is covering the huge distance that are in the rural areas and the task that I have and we have not achieved it yet but we are trying very hard is to recreate the best of the village bobby in todays conditions. We haven't got that yet but we are trying very hard indeed with beat managers and with other schemes.
Prime Minister: The process with having beat managers I mean obviously is quite important because it allows you to use the resources more effectively. You will presumably find though, with the best will in the world, there will be villages that don't really have any coverage for periods of time.
Chief Constable: That is certainly true Prime Minister yes and there are special constables that can help in this regard and other volunteers and we have parish wardens in this area who can provide some sort of link. It is not the same as a proper policeman people tell me, and they are right, but it is a matter of stretching the very thin resources we have as best we can.
Prime Minister: It is very difficult, isn't it? I do feel that we are in a situation were we have got to try and do our policing in a different way. My constituency in County Durham is a rural constituency. They are all old mining villages. And in each of those villages there used to be a police house and the local bobby and all the rest of it. We are exactly in the same situation and the constant complaint I get as a constituency MP is that people whiz round in patrol cars but they are not actually there in the village when you need them. But this is where I think that we are not going to be able to return to the way that things were policed in the past. And that is why I think it is important that we try to establish a different, more co-operative approach between the police, local people, local schools and local business. I know it is easy to say, but where it does work it does make an impact. And you know I think that is the best we can do in today's circumstances. I really think that. Besides of course knowing that if people do commit crimes there is some chance that they are going to be taken to court and something will happen, which is another problem altogether.
One of the things that again I think we would want to try and encourage is the better targeting of those small number of individuals that are responsible for crimes. Because very often what you find is that actually it is not a large number of people that are responsible for a crime wave. It can be a quite a small number of people. Now I know you have been experimenting with that too haven't you, here?
Chief Constable: Yes absolutely Prime Minister. A small number of burglars commit a very large number of burglaries and if we can concentrate on the burglars through targeted policing then we can do something about it. There is also the feeling I think that the village bobby might stop such burglaries and perhaps it would to some extent. But if I was a burglar going into the country areas committing burglaries during the day I would be more fearful of the detectives who would be targeting me. It is about getting the balance of all those approaches that target the response as well as the local bobby.
Prime Minister: In relation to domestic violence, what we are trying to achieve is that there is swift processes for injunctions to be got. The people are then given proper protection with court orders and all the rest of it. The larger question that you raise about family values and the need to protect women and children. I personally think that there should not be any difficulty for us reconciling those two things. I mean that most of us who are in a family situation know the difference between the type of, you know, lively discussion that spouses have with one another and their children, and people that are engaged in violent physical abuse. A lot of nonsense is taught about this as if it is difficult to decide where people cross the line. I don't personally find it difficult at all and one of the reasons why we are looking at strengthening the law here is to make it absolutely clear that if violent abuse is happening then you take action.
I think the difficulty arises not so much with trying to draw the line between ordinary family life and domestic violence. The difficulty arises where the position is just not very easy to define. But once you can get at the truth then I think the court process should work quickly and properly, and there should not be any problem at all about it.