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Home Secretary's speech, Manchester 2008

Jacqui Smith (Labour)

Location: Manchester

Thank you to everybody who's taken part in today's debate.


And thank you to every CLP across the country, to every Labour councillor and union member. And to my great ministerial team for the tireless work you are doing to make our communities safer and to help them to thrive.


We're Labour because we care passionately about the strength of our communities. About the safety of our neighbourhoods. About protecting our families.


We know that security is the foundation on which opportunity is built. Opportunity for all needs security for all - on our streets, at our borders, against the threat of terrorism.


And security for all means freedom from the fear of crime.


In the last year alone, a 10% cut in crime.


Since 1997, burglaries, car thefts have more than halved.


And the chance of being a victim of crime is lower now than at any time since 1981.


The reason for this success has been brought home to me over the past year.


From nipping anti-social behaviour in the bud to turning the tables on those who make others' lives a misery, from taking action against gangs to preventing violent extremism - time and again, we see that people are our best weapon in the fight against crime and terrorism.


I want those people to know they have our backing. And more - I want to turn statistics into real differences that they can see and feel in the streets where they live.


Neighbourhood Policing - now in place right across the country. Dedicated teams patrolling and protecting local streets.


For the first time, a clear set of standards you can expect the police to meet - set out in a Pledge and delivered by the end of the year.


Thousands of police officers freed up to spend time on the street through the cuts we're making to r ed tape.


Local crime mapping - so you can see for yourself what's being done to sort your area out.


And today, I can announce new funding for an army of Community Crime Fighters - to back up the unsung heroes who want to turn the tables on graffiti, yobs and violent crime.


We'll give them the skills and training they need to get results. One for every neighbourhood policing team - a local voice, a direct link.


These measures all have one thing in common. They build confidence in the power of communities to come together and deal with the problems they face.


And they're a vote of confidence, too, in the tremendous work that our police officers do, often in the most challenging of circumstances.


Which is why from now on, we will set only one target for the police - to improve public confidence locally in the fight against crime.


And working with the police and local councillors, we'll strengthen their links with local people - so that what matters to the public is what matters to the police as well.


It's in everyone's interest to strengthen the ties that bind communities together in the fight against crime.


Or so you'd think.


So why does David Cameron want us to think our country is broken?


Boris Johnson says talk of a broken Britain is "piffle".


Although I'd call it something else.






It is just plain wrong to ignore the achievements of the police and talk down the progress that communities are making.


And then there's Cameron's other rival - David Davis. Remember him?


He stalked off in search of freedom. And he found it - on the backbenches.


But after all that, we still have no idea where the tories stand on his crusade against town centre CCTV and DNA testing?


Well, I know what I think.


I'll make no apology to the hundreds of murderers and rapists caught with the help of DNA matching.


I'll not be saying sorry to the yobs captured on camera and duly punished.


And one thing's for sure.


I'll not be joining David Cameron in hugging any hoodies.


But we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the families who turn the tragedy of violent crime into positive action.


Like the thousands who joined the Peace March in London yesterday.


Groups like the New Year Shootings Memorial Trust in Birmingham, determined to take on the gangs and refusing to give up on young people.


Like the RECLAIM Project here in Manchester, who I'm visiting tomorrow - young men and women doing their bit to keep their friends focused on the positive, and to stop them going down the wrong track.


By changing the law and supporting the police with search arches and wands, we're sending a clear message about the consequences of carrying a knife.


If you do, you are now much more likely to get caught. When you're caught, the chanc es are you'll be prosecuted.


And if found guilty, you're more likely to go to prison.


But in the long run, it's turning around lives that saves lives.


That's why we'll now fund local community groups in each of the areas most affected by knife crime, so they can give kids something to do and somewhere to go.


By coming together to act, I've seen communities clean up their areas and instil a new sense of respect in their neighbourhoods.


From this December, we'll back them up with measures to close down pubs and clubs for persistent trouble-making.


And it's not just about respect for others. It's about dignity too.


We will do more to tackle the blight of street prostitution. At the moment, only persistent kerb-crawling is outlawed.


In my book, once around the block is once too many - and so we'll make kerb-crawling punishable as a first offence.


We will give councils and the police new powers to close down brothels and clamp down on exploitation.


We'll give communities a stronger say in stopping lap-dancing clubs opening in their areas.


And I want to know what the Tories have to say for themselves, after sending all their conference delegates a £10 off voucher to one of these clubs.


I'm a proud West Midlands MP - and believe me, Birmingham has a lot more to offer than that.


We're on track to ratify the human trafficking convention by the end of the year, but I'm interested in more than just the words on a page.


And so, next month, we will start work to outlaw paying for sex with someone forced into prostitution at another's will, or controlled for another's gain.


Gordon is right that at a time of global change, people need the security of knowing that the rules which underpin our society are fair.


Our communities welcome newcomers who are prepared to play by those rules, pay their way and speak our language.


And so we're securin g our borders with our new Border Force.


Transforming immigration with the Australian-style Points Based System that makes sure that only those who have something to contribute to the UK can come and stay.


Exploitation has no place in our society.


That's why since February we've fined dodgy employers of illegal workers more than £6m.

And just as no-one should be here below the radar, no-one should think that they are above our laws either.


Fair rules must apply to all - and that means our closest neighbours too.

So we'll act across Europe to make sure that in our courts EU nationals can't hide their criminal past from a judge.


Of course, we will always respect the rights of those genuinely fleeing persecution and seeking a safe haven here.


And where it is right to do so, we will strengthen those protections further.


This week we will lift the UK's immigration reservation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


Action like this shows how - step by step - we can advance our ideals alongside the clear protections we put in place.


From the international stage to the community grassroots - fair rules, alongside firm action to enforce them.


Personal dignity, alongside practical measures to make a difference.


Respect for others, and respect for the law.


Secure in our values, secure in our country.

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