Crime, Law and Order
Traditionally the discussion on crime, law and order has focused on individual recorded crimes of which there are approximately 8 million annually in England and Wales, costing the criminal justice system £17 billion (that's excluding policing of £12,431m.) and a wider cost to society estimated at £24 billion.
In comparison the annual cost of "white collar" or corporate crime has been estimated at £73 billion, which is probably an underestimate. Tax from financial institutions is an important government revenue stream and tax-related fraud has to be tackled more effectively if London (as the second most important financial centre in the world) is to retain its credibility. We believe that like all organisations the financial sector has a responsibility to society, not merely returns to shareholders.
Prevention and effective intervention requires a thorough understanding of the causes of crime where there is a considerable overlap with the causes of health inequalities and ill health. Crime and antisocial behaviour is more common in deprived communities and more frequent where there are greater inequalities. Taken to the extreme, the rich will choose to live in gated communities with private security forces. Reducing poverty and inequalities in society to create hope, fairer opportunities for learning and employment is critical to programs to successfully reduce crime.
Much crime is committed by young men under the age of 25 years. Often they have sad life stories with few roots within their own family or local communities resulting in social exclusion and sometimes mental health problems. Supporting these "chaotic families" and persistent offenders, who are often known to multiple services, with effective interventions to strengthen family life early in life and give young people hope for the future has to be a high priority. Supporting young people in communities through greater investment in local facilities such as properly resourced Young People's Centres should be investigated further, particularly in deprived communities.
Greater use of restorative justice and more effective rehabilitation must be available to tackle the determinants of crime such as poor literacy, drug misuse, domestic violence, mental health problems and poverty.
The UK imprisons more with young people than any other nation in Europe. Sending young people who have committed crimes to Young Offender Institutes rarely provides the rehabilitation they need, yet costs £100k annually per place. Imprisonment should only be used for those who present an ongoing hazard to other people, not for low-level crime such as persistent shoplifting, especially for young people who increasingly have dependent children.
Antisocial behaviour, especially when associated with the consumption of alcohol must be addressed by better community resources to provide more and leisure and recreational activities, increased taxation on alcohol, better design of communities to make them safer and tackling gang culture where it exists.
Crime is also often associated with substance misuse, so effective control of illegal drugs has high priority. This strategy must target suppliers rather than users. Given the large overlap between drug trafficking, people trafficking and money laundering strong international and European legislation and cooperation between law enforcement agencies is critical to success.
It is important to view much drug misuse as a health issue, rather than just a criminal issue. Effective drug rehabilitation programs linked to mental health services must be available to break the cycle of drug misuse and mental health problems contributing to drug misuse or as a result of drug misuse.
We call for more secure mental health and addiction units where prisoners can get proper treatment, relieving the pressure on prison numbers and capacities.
Effective corporate tax collection alone could provide £68 billion of additional income to the Treasury. In the short term income from financial penalties should be invested in HMRC capacity to collect tax and in the Serious Fraud Office to tackle corporate crime.
Given the difficulties relating to prosecuting corporate crime, fraud and economic crime investigation capacity should be enhanced and new laws may be required to enable companies rather than individuals within companies to face justice. Penalties must be proportionate to the crime and undeclared assets pursued and recycled into the criminal justice system to enable it to become more effective in the area of corporate crime in the future.
Organisation of Policing and Criminal Justice System
Like the National Health Service, we believe that policing and the criminal justice system must be a public service, largely funded through taxation, accountable to the Ministry of Justice. Like the NHS there should be a greater focus on prevention rather than low-level intervention, with a greater capacity of specialist units at a national level to investigate corporate crimes.