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Westlake Legal Group > Law and order

Sponsored Post: James Lowman: Breaking the cycle of violence against shopworkers  

James Lowman is Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS). This is a sponsored post by the ACS.

Last year, almost 10,000 people working in convenience stores were the victim of violence while doing their job, with similar numbers reported by big retail stores. The circumstances of these offences are simply responsible businesses and their employees upholding the law and keeping their communities safe by enforcing age restrictions, refusing to serve intoxicated customers or dealing with shop thieves.

Retailers have invested millions to protect their stores. Regrettably this essential action increases costs for consumers and despite significant investment, the tide of violence and abusive behaviour has continued. Soon the new Prime Minister will appoint their new team, and possibly a new Home Secretary and Justice Secretary, who will need to deal with this massive human and societal problem, face up to this challenge and give local shops the support they need.

Over the last 12 weeks, retailers have had the opportunity to tell the Home Office directly about the impact of violence and abuse faced by them and their staff as part of a formal call for evidence. This is more than just a data gathering process, it matters because these incidents rarely get reported. Low reporting rates means official figures understate the problem, so resources get allocated elsewhere. Thousands of stores have now sent in their stories of dealing with violence and abuse, some on an almost daily basis, and the message is clear: this is serious issue facing many thousands of people, and it isn’t a problem that’s going away on its own.  So, this is the plan the Government needs to implement.

Firstly, when the perpetrators of crimes against retailers and shop workers are caught, there’s an inconsistent and usually unsatisfactory response from the justice system. People who work in shops are on the front line, enforcing the law on age-restricted sales and serving as part of their community. If a shopworker is attacked while just doing their job, we believe that offenders should receive tougher sentences in line with what they would have received if they had attacked emergency workers. This is a bold recommendation requiring changes to sentencing guidelines and new legislation, but there needs to be a clear message that attacking a shopworker is unacceptable, and that their contribution in upholding the law is valued.

The second thing we need is a fundamental review of the out-of-court disposals system for low-level offences like shop theft. Tougher sentencing does not matter if offenders aren’t getting to court in the first place.  Fixed penalty notices and cautions as they currently work are not deterring offenders from committing further crimes which often become more serious and more violent.  As Sir Brian Leveson told Radio 4’s PM programme last week using the example of repeat shop thieves, there must be sufficiently significant and meaningful penalties or offenders will not change their behaviour, nor will the cause of that behaviour – usually addiction to drugs or alcohol – be recognised and treated.

To break the cycle of offending, better interventions are needed. The Centre for Social Justice’s ‘Second Chance’ programme is a good starting point for new interventions that could make real difference to offenders and the communities they live in. If courts aren’t intervening, through support or sanctions, we shouldn’t then be surprised when those individuals can no longer feed their habit through theft, and threaten shopworkers with syringes, knives and hammers in order to steal £50 – a scene that unfolds daily across the country.

We also have to confront some hard truths about the resources and priorities of police forces.  Chief Constables simply don’t have the personnel, time and support to investigate every incident of violence and intimidation in our members’ stores.  Conveniently, the Government can point to Police and Crime Commissioners’ resource prioritisation as the reason why so many incidents aren’t investigated.  But if people working in our communities are the victims of violence every day, and the police can’t find the time to investigate, then they’re either adopting very strange priorities, or more likely they haven’t got the resources to do their job.  Fret about politicising crime as much as you like, the reality is the trauma felt by those victims of violence, far too many of whom aren’t seeing justice, and who feel that under-resourcing, inaction, and indifference is making it more likely that they and their colleagues will be a victim again in the future.

You can look at the recommendations we, along with many others in the retail sector, have made to the Minister here, and I trust that Conservative Party members will engage with these policy suggestions and respond appropriately to this serious challenge to the community in which we all live, and the shop staff that work within it.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

E. Jean Carroll’s Rape Claim Looks Awfully Similar to a Plot Line from an Episode of “Law and Order”

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-5-620x357 E. Jean Carroll’s Rape Claim Looks Awfully Similar to a Plot Line from an Episode of “Law and Order” Television Sexual Assault rape accusation Politics New York Manhattan Law and order Front Page Stories Featured Story fantasy E. Jean Carroll donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception

We’ve been watching the unfolding of the story of E. Jean Carroll, the woman who claims Trump raped her.

While the mainstream media did everything in their power to prop Carroll up as a viable source, the woman has exhibited incredibly odd behavior, including a very awkward interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, wherein she floated the idea that people think rape is sexy.

Carroll’s claim was that one day she was in a Bergdorf dressing room in Manhattan when Trump burst in and sexually assaulted her. There’s no proof that it happened, and as time goes on, it’s becoming safe to assume that it didn’t. Especially after an interesting discovery floated around on social media.

As it turns out, being sexually assaulted in a Bergdorf dressing room is the plotline in an episode of “Law and Order,” wherein a man being questioned by police describes a role play fantasy being played out by a couple where the man bursts into a Bergdorf dressing room while the woman was trying on lingerie.

Let’s remember that during Carroll’s interview with Anderson Cooper that she mentioned that people think rape is sexy and described it as being a fantasy.

“Think of the fantasies,” she told Cooper.

I want to be clear that I’m not saying that Carroll’s claim is or isn’t real. I have no proof of either, just a hunch due to a long history of watching accusers come out of the woodwork when a person is about to achieve a position of power. From Clarence Thomas to Brett Kavanaugh, and a plethora of Republican politicians in between, sexual assault allegations are a dime a dozen, and they very rarely seem to be true.

With Trump approaching 2020 and the Russian scandal a dud, the left has to turn to something, and another sexual assault or rape accusations was completely expected.

That said, I do want to bring attention to the fact that this “Law and Order” episode and the similarities of the claims made by Carroll seem too similar not to be suspect. Adding the fact that she mentions rape fantasies, just like the episode talks about, makes this seem even odder.

I’m not one for engaging in conspiracy theories, but I am one for paying attention to weird details. And this? This is definitely a weird detail.

Somebody should ask Carroll if she watches a lot of television.

The post E. Jean Carroll’s Rape Claim Looks Awfully Similar to a Plot Line from an Episode of “Law and Order” appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Untitled-1-5-300x173 E. Jean Carroll’s Rape Claim Looks Awfully Similar to a Plot Line from an Episode of “Law and Order” Television Sexual Assault rape accusation Politics New York Manhattan Law and order Front Page Stories Featured Story fantasy E. Jean Carroll donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Chloe Westley: Khan poses, tweets and postures – while London is ravaged by four murders in four days

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

During the coming weeks, this website will be filled with articles about who should be the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. There will be a fierce battle of ideas between those who would prefer to continue with Mayism, and those who are hoping for change. There will be advocates of a No Deal Brexit, and those who would rather a closer relationship with the EU.

But there is one point that I think all Conservatives can agree on – and that’s the appalling track record of Sadiq Khan’s tenure as Mayor of London.

Last week, four people in London were murdered in four days. This extraordinary tragic set of events sparked cries of outrage at politicians, and particularly the politician who is responsible for dealing with crime in London. The respectful thing for the Mayor to do, would have been to apologise for his lack of action and look into how he could divert more of his £18 billion budget into policing. Instead, Sadiq Khan refused to take responsibility. He claimed that ‘government cuts’ – not his own wasteful spending in other areas – had deprived the Met of the resources needed to tackle crime.

So how hard-pressed for cash is City Hall exactly? Well, somehow the Mayor found £300,000 to put on a pool party, and £20,000 to gift to a 2nd referendum campaign group. Remarkably he also found £200,000 for a flashy new website, £175,000 for a PR campaign on why ‘London is Open’, and £1.7 million for new water fountains. Oh, and of course he miraculously discovered £9 million for new hires and pay rises for City Hall staff, which could have funded 150 police officers.

Not only is Khan wasting taxpayers’ money; he’s also exploiting the office he holds to grandstand on issues which have nothing to do with the job that taxpayers pay him to do. In order to distract from the terrible job he’s doing as Mayor, Khan decides to use his platform to virtue signal about foreign affairs and social issues.

Take this inspirational video for Elle, in which he proudly declares himself a feminist. Or this video interview where he criticises Donald Trump’s domestic policies and says he shouldn’t be welcome in the UK. Or the countless times he’s called for a second referendum.

Now, you may agree with some of his opinions on these issues, but is this relevant to anything that taxpayers actually pay him to deal with? I don’t think Londoners voted for Khan so that he could seek airtime to assert his moral superiority on foreign affairs and social issues. They wanted to elect someone who would focus on improving public services like transport and policing.

Aside from virtue signalling on Twitter, the only thing he’s been able to actually achieve is to introduce a white van tax and banning ‘junk food’ advertising on the tube. Even Faiza Shaheen, a Labour Parliamentary candidate, has recognised that Khan’s van tax will hit poorer families the hardest.

And that ‘junk food’ ad ban turned out to be a ‘pretty much any food’ ban. As industry leaders tried to warn Khan, the definition of ‘junk food’ is so broad that even a bowl of strawberries would be deemed too dangerous for commuters’ eyes. If companies find they are constantly being asked to redesign their advertisements to remove all images of food, they might decide it’s not worth the hassle, resulting in less revenue for TfL. Staying very true to character, both of these policies were about ‘feeling good’ and getting a PR hit – as opposed to ‘doing good’ and thinking about the wider impact on Londoners.

As Khan tweets and tours TV studios to express his disapproval of Trump and Brexit, London suffers. Londoners have suffered through 16 tube strikes, despite Khan pledging that there would be zero strikes under his watch. In the years since Khan was first elected, reported knife crime has increased by 52 per cent, robberies up by 59 per cent, and the homicide rate by 26 per cent.

Compare Khan’s track record with Boris Johnson’s. Delays on the tube went down by around 50 per cent, making it easier for Londoners to get to work on time. And after making the tough decision to give the police greater powers to stop and search those suspected of carrying weapons, the murder rate in London went down by 50 per cent, the crime rate down by 20 per cent.

Londoners have had enough of Khan’s virtue signalling and incompetence. It’s time to put us out of our misery. We need a Mayor who focuses on the job that he or she is paid to do, who puts the needs of residents and taxpayers above the temptation to hand out pay-rises, bonuses and jobs for their mates. We need a Mayor who can take responsibility for problems in London without shifting the blame to central government.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: The tragi-comedy of the collapse of Change UK

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

Today is the day Theresa May officially resigns as Leader of the Conservative Party. She will, of course, remain as Prime Minister for another 55 days, until the new leader is unveiled on July 22. It will be an uncomfortable few weeks her, as she seeks to come to terms with the fate that has befallen her.

But she has 55 days to do a few things which could form part of her legacy. Her premiership will, of course, be defined by the failure to deliver Brexit, but she is still in control of the levers of power, and she could use them to affect people’s lives, even if only in a small way.

– – – – – – – – – –

It won’t just be the Prime Minister who leaves Downing Street in late July. No one ever thinks of the dozens of prime ministerial staffers who will all lose their jobs too.

One or two may be retained by the new regime, but most won’t. They’ll all get a few months salary by way of recompense, but after working in Number Ten, I do wonder how easy it is to go back to civvy street into a more normal job. Does Craig Oliver get the same buzz from the world of PR that he got in Downing Street? I doubt it.

Many will no doubt tread the well-trodden path into lobbying and public affairs. I’d urge them to think very carefully before doing that. It’s the easy way out. Yes, it’s financially rewarding, but what you’re effectively doing is pimping your contacts. Where’s the job satisfaction in that? There are plenty of other alternatives if you look hard enough.

– – – – – – – – – –

One of the notable things in this leadership campaign is the failure of any of the leadership candidates to come up with many eye-catching, game-changing policies.

Perhaps they need to take a leaf out of the book of the Alabama State Legislature, which this week passed a law which means that all convicted paedophiles will be chemically castrated.

At first sight, you think, wow, what a totally inhumane thing to do. But when you actually look into it, it makes total sense. A chemical castration is perhaps the wrong phrase to describe the procedure. Essentially, you get a three monthly injection of a chemical which reduces your sex drive to almost zero.

I imagine there are many self-hating paedophiles who would voluntarily submit themselves to this, in order to prevent them from committing an offence in the first place.

When I did a phone-in on this on Tuesday, I was shocked to learn that charities who provide emotional and therapeutic support to paedophiles get financial support from the taxpayer, but charities who provide support for the victims of paedophiles get nothing, and have to rely on voluntary contributions.

They are so badly off financially that they have to often turn people away, who are desperate for help. This is a prime example of the system not working for those who really need it. So, for any Conservative leadership candidate reading this, store it away, and if you win, pledge to do something about it.

– – – – – – – – – –

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel for all those people who dutifully followed the 11 Independent Group MPs of their respective parties. Tens of thousands of people abandoned their lifelong tribal loyalties, and put their trust in those MPs to form an exciting and fresh new political party.

Boy, how they’ve been let down. Now that six of that original 11 have abandoned Change UK to go back to being independent, there is no hope of it being able to continue as any kind of meaningful political force.

Anna Soubry now leads the rump of five MPs, but she’s the only one with any name recognition. Meanwhile, it is only a matter of time before most, if not all, of the six others join the Liberal Democrats.

This might an interesting move for Chuka Umunna, who is on record as declaring in recent months: “I am not a Liberal Democrat.” He forgot to add the word ‘yet’.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Wednesday night, I conducted the first of my Conservative leadership candidate interviews, with Mark Harper.

The series continues on LBC on Monday with Rory Stewart (8pm) and Sam Gyimah (9pm), followed by Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey on Tuesday and Sajid Javid on Wednesday.

If you can’t listen live, our esteemed Editor will be posting the Youtube videos of each interview on ConservativeHome the next day [see above], or you can download them for your delight and delectation on the Cross Question podcast feed. End of advert.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pauline Latham: Why I am voting for McVey

Pauline Latham is MP for Mid Derbyshire.

The political class has exhausted the country over the last couple of years. Deadlock in Parliament and our failure to grapple with delivering the historic referendum result has ensured that our Party has been pounded in the recent elections.

Not only do people feel ignored, but the Brexit stagnation has meant that we haven’t been able to focus on other important areas, such as health, housing, local transport, education and policing. We can’t continue blindly marching on in the same way as before. If we do, we may as well crown Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister today.

We have had a great record as a Party over the last nine years. We’ve seen the fastest growth in wages in almost a decade, record amounts of money going to the NHS, high employment levels and economic growth.

But we have become inward-looking, and seem to have stopped listening to what people out there are saying. We must re-connect, start listening to voters, remember why we’re in the political business in the first place, and start to renew that fragile bond of trust with the British people. And the way to start this is by delivering Brexit.

We need a leader who believes in Brexit, and who is passionate about us making a success of our future as an independent, self-governing nation. They must be prepared to rule out, unequivocally, any extension to our leaving date of October 31st. Businesses have prepared, the country is ready to leave the EU and it’s only politicians who seem to be lagging behind, causing endless fatigue and uncertainty for people and businesses.

The EU and our excellent civil servants have spent months agreeing an array of mini-deals so that we won’t be operating under World Trade Organisation rules alone from November 1st. Deals will be in place ensuring that planes fly, lorries can move their goods and business can continue.

So we need a clean break: no resurrecting the botched Withdrawal Agreement and no more talk of backstops. We are tired of it, we’re ready to do without a Withdrawal Agreement deal – and the only candidate who is calling for this is Esther McVey, which is why I am backing her for the leadership of our Party.

Esther is one of the rare politicians I’ve met who is able to communicate authentically with voters in all parts of the country. People hate it when politicians are not completely straight with them, and we need a leader who can reach out beyond our core supporters, and who say it as it is. We need someone who doesn’t hide behind bland, non-committal, political waffle; who isn’t posturing on Twitter but who’s out there, talking to real people and saying exactly what she thinks and what her values are. That’s the kind of straight-talking politics the public are crying out for.

Labour has been taking its northern heartlands for granted and has abandoned hard-working families and communities, who used to vote for them in favour of their metropolitan members. This is an opportunity for us as a Party ,and Esther will be able to capitalise on it. She will be able to articulate how Corbyn’s socialist plans will destroy these voters’ jobs and leave them worse off, and her Blue Collar Conservatism project demonstrates that she shares their values too.

Esther has been out in the country, talking to voters to hear what their priorities are as we move beyond Brexit. There’s one thing that people are saying, time and time again, and that’s that they want us to stop the cutting the amount of money we give to our police and schools.

The Conservatives have already made changes in education that have been transformational, but we are now risking all that by under-funding our schools. Classrooms are creaking at the seams and, whilst more money is not the answer to everything, it will make a real difference to teachers.

And our police are becoming increasingly stretched as well. There’s nothing officers in my constituency want more than to be able to do the best possible job in keeping our streets safe and stemming the tide of rising violent crime. But we have cut their budgets to the bone.

So Esther has pledged an extra £7 billion for our police and schools, allowing our public servants and communities the chance to breathe. £4 billion will go towards making up for shortfalls in the education budget and £3 billion a year extra will go our police. This works out as a huge 25 per cent boost on the current funding we are giving to the police, and nine times what the Home Secretary has promised. This debate shouldn’t involve politicians setting headline-grabbing, arbitrary numbers of police officer numbers. It should be about making a transformative shift in priorities so that the police, themselves, can develop a force that’s fit to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

And Esther has now gone further than this. She wants to enshrine the nation’s thanks to the police – for all the tireless work they do to keep us safe and to protect us – in a new Police Covenant, similar to the one we developed for our Armed Forces. We expect so much from our police and it’s time we treated them with some respect. The Police Covenant will support officers during their service and in their retirement and, importantly, part of the £3 billion will be used to ensure that officers’ pay rises in line with inflation.

This is what Blue Collar Conservatism is all about: practical, Conservative policies that will make a real difference to the lives of our hard-working communities. And it’s exactly the direction our Party needs to take, under Esther’s leadership, if we are to become a fighting force at the next election.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Andy Street: My seven tests to find the right Prime Minister for the West Midlands

Andy Street is Mayor of the West Midlands, and is a former Managing Director of John Lewis.

So the race is on, and the stakes could not be higher. The prize may be the ultimate one, but the responsibility is daunting: to unite the party, to deliver Brexit, but more significantly – to defeat the twin perils of Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage, to turn our backs on false populism, and demonstrate that the centre of British politics can once again deliver radical thinking and dramatic outcomes for our citizens. It’s been done before, by Macmillan, Thatcher and Cameron, and no less a re-invention is required now.

Against that background, I have decided that instead of endorsing a candidate I should set out seven tests for any future Prime Minister.  These are chosen not from a factional or ideological standpoint, but from what I see doing the job of Mayor. I firmly believe they are in the interests of the people of the West Midlands.

They build on the strong economic legacy of the last nine years and on the value set of Theresa May. They also accelerate the radical thinking started by David Cameron towards devolution, whilst acknowledging the challenges of urban Britain which have persisted whilst government has been focused on Brexit.

So, the West Midlands needs a Prime Minister who –

1) Is restless in tackling the real issues which matter locally

That means providing well-paid jobs, quality housing, and skills for the fourth industrial revolution, as well as facing the challenges of climate change and the future of our town centres. These are the issues that voters care about. They want to see innovation and tangible outcomes.

A new leader will also support and recognise the crucial role of public services locally; the NHS, Councils and the police, and fund each of them appropriately.

The key will be leadership, both to galvanise original thinking and to deliver real change through government at all levels.

2) Understands the Power of Business as a Force for Good

The new Prime Minister will value responsible businesses which create jobs, drive the economy, and support wellbeing. That means giving them what they need: stability, infrastructure, skills, transport, and fair taxation. In particular, hard-working small businesses and entrepreneurs must know that they are valued. We must forge ahead with adopting new technology such as gigabit broadband, 5G and online public services.

3)  Champions realism over Ideology

First and foremost, the new Prime Minister must deliver a Brexit which honours the referendum result whilst meeting the economic needs of the West Midlands. Then they have to win the argument that a modern, mixed economy can work for everyone, and thus deliver the aspirations of the millennial generation. They will be unfaltering in sharing their economic vision and ideas, and thus restore public confidence and hope. While protecting the market’s freedom to deliver, they must be willing to intervene where necessary, for example in the provision of affordable homes.

4) Recognises the Importance of the Regions

With three quarters of The UK’s GDP generated outside London, vibrant nations and regions are critical to our success. Cities, towns and rural communities need the support of Government to create a strong but more balanced economy, and a fairer society.

A firm pledge to support HS2, as part of a comprehensive investment in addressing historic underinvestment in regional infrastructure, is the most clear signal of a commitment to Britain beyond London. HS2 is the modern hallmark of a One Nation party, as it will literally unite the country and drive regeneration in the Midlands and the North. Turning back on this commitment would be unthinkable.

The new Prime Minister will also understand the critical importance of communities who have not shared in economic success, and be a passionate advocate of addressing the underlying issues of driving aspiration and opportunity.

5) Sees the Role All Our Communities Have to Play

Our new Prime Minister needs to be a visible champion of all faiths, ethnicities and under-represented groups. They must demonstrate that they believe in the unique power of communities to work together to create a harmonious country where mixing is a source of innovation and enrichment.

They must be brave and principled in addressing any injustices, as May pledged.

6) Reaches Beyond the Comfortable to Those Who Are Struggling

The new Prime Minister must truly believe that the ultimate test of any society is the way in which it supports the less fortunate.

For example, the British public know that homelessness and the use of foodbanks in the UK today is wrong. They want someone who understands, listens and has a serious plan to sort it out.

They will face up to social challenges: how do we, as a society, support those with mental health problems, and how do we respond to communities blighted by crime and substance abuse? However, all of this requires more than just warm words – there must be a concrete plan of action, with serious Government cash set aside to tackle such issues.

7) Lives life as an optimist

Finally, we need a Prime Minister who believes in Britain, the British people, and our role in the world as an example of liberal values and individual rights.

A new Prime Minister must bring a new lease of life to the country, and a new wave of optimism after the gruelling Brexit debates of the last few months. They must lead Britain as an outward-looking, internationalist country, that takes global responsibility naturally.

He or she must be a unionist, but with a respect for the differences between our nations and regions, cherishing what makes us proud locally, but as part of one United Kingdom.

For us in the West Midlands, this means grasping opportunities such as Coventry hosting the City of Culture in 2021, and Birmingham welcoming the Commonwealth Games in 2022. We need our Prime Minister to be a cheerleader around the world.

Above all else, the new Conservative leader must be someone who can win. We are at a historic moment for the party and the country. Our new leader will need to navigate the waters of Brexit negotiations, and fight Corbyn. But they also need to set out a powerful new domestic agenda which lifts up and inspires communities like ours in the West Midlands. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and I hope that MPs, members, and the country will make a good choice.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Victoria Borwick: We must invest in the next generation to cut knife crime

Victoria Borwick is the former Conservative MP for Kensington and was the Deputy Mayor of London to Boris Johnson from 2012 to 2015.

The rise in knife crime and violent crime, particularly amongst young people, has heightened the debate about drugs. However, I am not one of those hand-wringers who think the answer to knife crime and drug wars is the legalisation of drugs. What do you think the drug dealers would go off and do? Sit around? This is very unlikely. This is a problem that must be tackled from all sides with unity and purpose. This is about investing in our young people.

Why do young people deal in drugs? Because they want to fund their lifestyle – they seek the protection and fake friendship of gang life, and carry a knife for “safety”. This is a very serious issue and has disastrous consequences for us as a society. This is not the time for pointing the finger at just one cause.

First, we must re-examine our education system so it is not just about passing “final year” exams, but about training people to give them the skills to get a job. If you have a job and steady income you are far less likely to get involved in crime. For too long, we have under-invested in skills and training programmes – they have been a poorly funded add-on and not a serious career path.

Yes, there is greater investment now, but there are many years to make up for. These opportunities and options should start far earlier in children’s lives, enabling a twin-track of skills training – IT skills, engineering skills, advanced robotics, and AI as well as practical skills in electrical engineering and all the construction trades. There is a reason that so many employers on building sites take young people from overseas: they have started their practical skills and engineering training far younger than we offer here in the UK.

Young people need role models, and need to know and have evidence that there is a better life than taking drugs, dealing drugs and carrying knives. Sometimes there is no real boundary between the lives of the victims and the background of the perpetrators. This is not just a policing matter; voluntary organisations, young people’s groups, cadets, schools, families and the wider community all have a role to play. Schools should open their premises in the evenings so they can be used by local voluntary groups for sports and opportunities to learn and relax in a safe environment. Councils can be the co-ordinators, the convenors that bring together all the local provision, to focus on and track those who need the greatest help.

Drug takers often descend into other criminal activity – something legalisation would not stop, as drugs would still have to be paid for even from “approved stores”. Additionally, addicts would still crave different combinations and stronger variations which dealers will be all too happy to supply. Evidence from the USA suggests that black market operators will simply adapt rather than disappear.

A report from the Centre for Social Justice at the end of last year found that legalisation would probably drive a million young people to take drugs, so why on earth would we want to inflict this on our society, on our communities? This is a time for positive help and investment in our future, in the next generation – not make it easier for them to become addicts and criminals.

I find it abhorrent that given what we know about the dangers of smoking and alcohol we should consider softening our approach to drugs and encourage the next generation to think it was “safe” despite all the evidence to the contrary – especially as tobacco was once considered “healthy” and “medicinal”. Look at the change in attitudes to smoking during one generation, it is no longer the personification of style and we now know it leads to poor health, asthma, cancer –  and, frankly, it smells awful.

As the previous Deputy Mayor of London, I have been out with the ambulance service on some of those very busy weekends in holiday times, and I have seen for myself the dangers of too much drink, of being abandoned by your friends and how lonely and disorientated those high on drugs can be, totally unable to care for themselves.

Evidence from Canada and Colorado shows that drug liberalisation has not significantly reduced drug use, in fact, there has often been a spike as people think it must be OK because it is now legal.

How can policy makers think this is the responsible thing to do? This is an important public health issue and it needs to be approached in the same way, just as we teach about the dangers of smoking and alcohol we need to be very clear about the damage of inappropriate drug use.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Onward, Hancock – and the delusion of leadership candidates retreating to their comfort zone

James Frayne is Director of Public First and author of Meet the People, a guide to moving public opinion.

Reading Matt Hancock’s piece in the Sunday Times a couple of weekends ago previewing Onward’s interesting new publication, Generation Why, and watching a clip of his speech at the publication’s launch, reminded me why I gave up talking to people in politics about football nearly 20 years ago.

A weird link? Let me explain. There comes a time when, despite theoretically sharing an interest in the same subject, you have so little actual shared experience of that subject that it becomes impossible to have any sort of meaningful conversation about it. You might as well be talking to each other in a foreign language.

As a youth of 16 or 17, playing at the bottom of the non-league pyramid, my favourite place to play was Heanor Town. For those that don’t know the East Midlands, Heanor is a small town in the North of Derbyshire. The football pitch was located at the top of the slope of the cricket pitch. While badly sloped, the pitch was impeccably cut whatever the weather (usually cold or freezing), the floodlights worked, and the dressing rooms had the intense smell of deep heat. Most importantly, the locals absolutely loved football and sport in general. Heanor was a football town.

When you talked to the locals about football, they didn’t just talk about Man Utd or Derby or Forest; of course, they did talk about them, but they’d be as happy talking about the last game against Kimberley Town, or Jeff Astle’s last song on Fantasy Football, or how Notts County fans moaned all the time. In short, when talking about football there was a shared understanding that you were talking about the game as a whole. It was expected that everyone knew practically everything there was to know about the game since they were a child – about players, fans, grounds, songs, old kits and all the rest.

When I arrived in London politics, full as it was with privately educated, mostly Southern staff that hadn’t played much, that shared understanding was totally absent. While many professed a love of the game, their entire way of speaking about it was alien. They’d talk almost entirely about the top of the game over the last few years since they became interested or – increasingly and weirdly – about football statistics. Nobody knew what the Anglo-Italian Cup was, let alone the FA Vase. And because nobody had really played at school, nobody knew what it was like to get hit on the thigh with a Mitre Multiplex in January. The Fast Show’s “I love football” sketch was no longer an amusing parody, but reality. Talking about football was a bizarre and depressing experience. So I stopped.

Which takes me back to Hancock’s article and speech. In giving advice to the Conservatives in appealing to the young, he wrote: “First, we need to get our tone right. Sometimes Conservatives can sound, as Ruth Davidson succinctly put it, a bit ‘dour’. Of course, it’s our job to be the pragmatists, but nobody wants to hang out with the person always pointing out the problems, rather than the one hopeful about the solutions…” At the event, he said:  “As well as delivering better economic prospects for people, we’ve got to sound like we actually like this country. We’ve got to patriots for the Britain of now, not the Britain of 1940. And enough about being just comfortable with modern Britain, we need to champions of modern Britain.”

Just as I found it increasingly difficult to relate to most of the privately-educated, metropolitan Conservatives talking about football, hearing this, I found myself similarly thinking that I have literally nothing in common with the same sorts of people’s views on politics. It’s as if we’ve grown up in entirely different worlds. Honestly, how can anyone think that the British people are collectively optimistic, happy-go-lucky, and modernity-obsessed? How can anyone seriously think that this is the best way to engage with people? How can they imagine themselves walking into the average pub, shopping centre or call centre canteen and connecting with ordinary people with such a case? 

Ordinary people don’t want to hear about 1940 or about life before large-scale immigration; most are happy with the people they live amongst. But they also emphatically don’t want to hear politicians droning on about how great the future is going to be and how technology and 3D printing is going to change everything for the better. It’s just not how they think about the world and not how they talk about it.

Look at what most working class and lower middle class people really think about things – those that make up the bulk of electorate. They think: that the economy is, at best fine, but that they see little of the benefits of growth; that long-term careers are a relic of the past; that good pensions have gone and that a long retirement is just a dream; that home ownership is increasingly unattainable; that the cost of living is too high; that their town centres are boring; that the NHS is over-burdened and under-funded and might fail them when the time comes; that crime is rising and police numbers are falling; that their savings will get raided to pay for social care; that childcare is ruinously expensive; and they think that politicians are out of touch thieves. While this is more prevalent amongst the old in provincial England, it’s actually common everywhere.

Why get so worked up over one little speech and an article? Because it’s clear that the Conservative Party is preparing to return to its recent comfort zone – using claims of a broad appeal to the young, which would be reasonable, to justify an appeal to the tiny number of successful, highly affluent, urban voters who are basically like those at the top of the Party. It’s dressed up as daring and confrontational, but is in fact just about following a path of least-resistance in the Party, while making those that make the case feel good about themselves. If Hancock is so sure this plays well, Heanor are home to Gedling Miners Welfare on Saturday. I’m sure they’d love to hear from him.

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Javid’s speech on knife crime: “We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

This is the full text of a speech delivered today by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary.

Today, we’re standing here on the site of a disused pickle factory, next to a very attractive gasworks. In 2013 after a brief spell as a medical storage facility, new life was given to this old unloved warehouse now converted to a trendy events venue.

What we see here today is a thriving business, a cultural asset and a pillar of the local community.

A testament to the Olympic legacy of London 2012, this building speaks to the optimism of those games and the story of regeneration across East London.

We have seen the undoubted benefits of this legacy. Investment, jobs, prosperity – all necessary to changing people’s life chances.

But the story doesn’t end here. In a way, I wish it did.

Economic prosperity can create the building blocks to stronger communities but that alone is not enough.

A closer look at those streets that are surrounding us will show you that our job is not yet done.

There are still too many places where that longed for prosperity has not reached, streets like the ones surrounding us, up and down the country that are instead dangerous and sometimes deadly.

On an almost weekly basis, we wake up to the news that another person has been stabbed, that robbery is on the rise, that serious violent crime is on the up.

This is not just a concern for those communities who are directly affected by that crime. It rightly causes national alarm.

A recent YouGov poll showed that for the first time, crime was a more important issue to the public than health. Last year saw a 14 per cent increase in homicides, a 15 per cent increase in hospital admissions for assaults involving a sharp instrument, a 17 per cent increase in recorded robberies.

This does not make for easy reading and that is exactly why it cannot be ignored. In my job as Home Secretary it is my duty to protect the public. And at the Home Office we work tirelessly to find the right policy solutions to tackle all types of crime. But what affects me more is my job as a father.

Take knife crime. Like everyone else I see the reports on young people feeling the need to carry weapons; it makes me worry about my teenage children.

Will they be hurt if they’re out in the wrong place at the wrong time on a night out? What if they get into an argument that then escalates?

I may be the Home Secretary but I’m not ashamed to confess; I have stayed up late at night waiting to hear the key turning in the door. And only then going to bed knowing that they have come home safe and sound. And like any other dad, when I watch the news and see the faces of all those young victims of knife crime I despair at the waste of those lives.

Many of those lost were of similar ages to my own children. So sometimes I cannot help but see the faces of my own children in the pictures of those victims.

I find it hard to detach the personal from the policy.

So I know that if we don’t feel safe on our own streets, if I don’t think they are safe enough for my children, or if we see our communities being torn apart by crime then something has gone terribly wrong.

Dealing with this scourge is not a simple question of turning around the statistics. The reasons for this rise in violent crime are many. Changes in illicit drugs market and the drive for profit has made criminal gangs take bigger risks and exploit even more vulnerable people. Alcohol abuse and the escalation of violence through social media are other factors that contribute to this picture.

The serious violence strategy the Government set out a year ago, has been a major focus of mine, especially trying to understand how we got to this point, and focusing on the immediate that are steps required to bring the situation under control.

The police told me that more powers, more tools and, yes, resources were needed to make a difference. That’s why I secured nearly a billion pounds more funding, including council tax, for police forces, in this year’s Police Financial Settlement.

That means more money to stamp out drug dealing for tackling serious and organised crime and for local police forces. It means that Police and Crime Commissioners are already planning to recruit 3,500 extra police officers and police staff. And that’s not all.

We are supporting the police by changing the law through the Offensive Weapons Bill, making it more difficult for young people to buy bladed weapons and corrosive substances. We know that acid is becoming a new weapon of choice for violent criminals. Now, if you are going to buy or carry acid, you’re having to have a very good reason.

We are changing the law in other ways too.I am trialling reforms that return authority to the police and give them the discretion that they need to effectively carry out stop-and-search. I know this is not universally welcome. I know that.

There is concern that in enforcing these powers, BAME communities will be affected disproportionately, but we must acknowledge that violence disproportionately impacts BAME communities too. And if stop and search rates drop too low, it does perhaps create a culture of immunity amongst those who carry knives. Stop-and-search saves lives. There are people alive today because of stop and search. I can’t say that clearly enough.

The Funding settlement and powers went a long way to supporting our forces, but senior officers told me that they needed more. More support and more funding.

They asked for £50 million to be immediately released to tackle the rise in serious violence. I doubled it. There is now £100 million extra. – £20 million from the Home Office, and £80 million in new funding from the Treasury. The forces facing the highest levels of serious violent crime will receive this additional funding for surge capacity so they can tackle knife crime in real-time, and not at half-speed.

And while all these efforts will make a big difference to our immediate efforts, the lasting solutions are not short-term. We know that crime doesn’t just appear. It has taken several years for the rise in violent crime to take hold, so we know that the answers cannot be a quick fix.

Before a young person ever picks up a knife, they have been the victim of a string of lost opportunities and missed chances. Any youth worker can tell you that gangs recruit the most vulnerable young people.That drug runners who travel over county lines coerce them into committing crimes.

These children are at risk, and we can detect early on who they are. We can do that. The kid that plays truant. The ones that get into fights. The pupils who struggle at school. And even though we can see the path to criminality, somehow, we still expect these children to make good life choices all on their own.

The sad fact is that many feel that they can’t lose the opportunities that they never had in the first place. What they and their families need is our help. It is exactly why I have launched a £200 million Youth Endowment Fund, to invest in the futures of this country’s most vulnerable youngsters. This fund helps steer them away from violence and offers them a better future.

This is not a one-off pot of money, the funding is spread over ten years, enabling long-term planning and interventions through a child’s most important years. But to address the root causes of serious violence we do need to go much further. We need to tackle adverse childhood experiences in the round, and better identify those children who are most at risk.

Children who grow up with substance abuse, with parental criminality, with perhaps domestic violence. I was lucky enough to realise the dream of every parent – to give your children a better start in life than the one you had yourself, but it could have been very different.

I grew up on what was dubbed by one tabloid as ‘the most dangerous street in Britain’. It’s not so difficult to see how instead of being Cabinet, I could have been taken in to a life of crime. There were the pupils at school that shoplifted, and asked if I wanted to help. The drug dealers who stood near the school gates and told you by joining in you could make easy money.But I was lucky. I had loving and supporting parents, who despite their own circumstances gave me security. I had some brilliant teachers who motivated me to go further than what was expected of me. I even had a girlfriend who believed in me and supported me despite my lack of prospects and went onto to become my wife. Thanks to them all I have built a better life for myself and my family. With their help, I suppose, I made it.

But I do not look back at my upbringing and see it as something in the distant past. The lessons of my childhood help shape the decisions I make every day. Shaping what I want to see for other kids who are just like me. That’s why I know the problems we face are not within the remit of any one government department. By the time a person becomes a problem for the police, it is often too late.

If we are to deliver meaningful change, and stop the violence before it begins, then the mind-set of government needs to shift. We need to instigate a sense of shared responsibility.

Take the frontline professionals, the teachers and nurses, the social and youth workers, all of them already working tirelessly to protect vulnerable young people and enhance the life chances of young people.

I have met teachers who have watched helplessly as one of their students falls under the influence of a gang. Nurses who, night after night, have seen teenagers brought into hospital with knife wounds. So I asked myself, what more can I do to help the people who work on the frontline?

That is why we have planned a public health approach to tackle violent crime. In practice, this means bringing together education, health, social services, housing, youth and social workers, to work them together coherently. It will enable those agencies to collaborate and share information. They will be able to jointly plan and target their support to help young people at risk, to prevent and stop violence altogether.

It is not about blaming those frontline staff for the violence, or asking them to do more. Far from it. It is about giving them the confidence to report their concerns, safe in the knowledge that everyone will close ranks to protect that child. A public health approach doesn’t mean passing the problem onto the NHS or a teacher. Rather, it means that serious violence is treated like the outbreak of some virulent disease. A national emergency.

Our legislation will place a legal duty on all parts of the government to work together not to apportion blame but to ensure there is no let up, until the violence itself is eradicated. We have already announced a new Serious Violence Implementation Task Force, the work of which will be driven by research and evidence starting with the review of drugs misuse led by Dame Carol Black. We already know that the drugs trade is a major catalyst of serious violence. That’s why we launched the National County Lines Coordination Centre in September. But the review will also bring home to middle-class drug users that they are part of the problem. They may never set foot in a deprived area. They may never see an act of serious violence, but their illicit habits are adding fuel to the fire that is engulfing our communities.

If we are to understand violence, we must also understand all its drivers and we in government are at the start of understanding how data can help us do that. Creating and understanding the causes and pathways to crime. Recent analysis by my own department found that the top 5 per cent of crime ‘hotspots’ accounted for some 17 per cent of the total volume of ‘acquisitive crime’. In plain English, crime such as burglaries and car thefts.

That is why the Home Office will be developing new proposals for a Crime Prevention Data Lab. We will be exploring how we can bring together information from the police and other agencies, to enhance our ability to make targeted and effective interventions.

And just as technology can help us prevent crimes, so too can it help criminals. Identities can be stolen online. Credit cards cloned from fake machines. Keyless entry systems tricked to gain access to your car. Criminals are smart, so businesses need to get smarter. I ask myself, if we can do this, what more can business do to help us?

Products and services must be designed to make crime harder to commit. The tech might be new, but the principle is not. In the 1980s, vehicle manufacturers and government came to the conclusion that you could design products to make it more difficult to commit a crime.

It is the reason a modern car comes with central locking, an alarm, steering locks and an immobilizer in all cars as standard. So I will be chairing a meeting with industry leaders, and asking them how they will help us in the fight against acquisitive crime.

Preventing crime can be as simple as fitting locks, alarm systems, and proper street lighting. This may seem like common sense, and in some ways it is, but it works. One trial in Nottingham saw the windows in council houses replaced with more secure versions. Their evaluation showed this intervention yielded a remarkable 42 per cent reduction in burglary from those properties. We have applied the same ideas to moped-enabled crime including a new standard of anti-theft devices on the mopeds themselves. And working with the Metropolitan Police to target hotspot areas, and design more secure two-wheeled vehicle parking.

This work led to a decrease of over 40 per cent of moped crime in a single year. So, we are now looking to apply this similar approach to a wider set of crimes. Just as we can design products to prevent crime, we can also design policy to shape the lives of young people to prevent criminality.

Changing the lives of young people will not be an easy task. Crime has a way of drawing in those who feel a little bit worthless. But when you belong to something greater than yourself, when you have something to lose, it’s not as easy to throw your life away.

Undoubtedly, of course there must be strong ramifications for those who commit crime – there must be. I do not shirk from my responsibility, as Home Secretary, to keep the public safe, whatever that takes.

I want us to be able to come back to this venue and know that, for these communities, something has changed. But to do that, we need to change how we see our young people.

No life is less important than another.

No future should be pre-determined by where you’re born, or how you’re brought up.

We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

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Craig Hoy: Stop demanding the law-abiding simply learn to live with anti-social behaviour

Craig Hoy is a former Downing Street Lobby correspondent and a member of the Scottish Conservative Party.

After anything but a Merry Christmas, the last thing our struggling high streets need is to be blighted by anti-social behaviour. But all too often our villages, towns and cities are marred by low-level violence and intimidation, which reveal a stubborn stain on the character of modern Scotland.

Earlier this year, The Scottish Sun reported on ‘ASBO Avenue‘, where five individuals presided over a “reign of terror” on a small cul-de-sac. The number of dangerous dog notices issued across Scotland is up by 270 per cent in six years. Crime rose by 1.7 per cent in Scotland last year, with offences involving a weapon up by 3.4 per cent and robberies surging by 8.4 per cent.

In my home town of Haddington in East Lothian – where I now spend much of my time, following a decade running a business in the sharply different environs of Asia – authorities recently agreed a so-called ‘Problem Solving Partnership’ to tackle a spate of extreme anti-social behaviour. The actions of a small number of visible individuals alarmed local residents and angered weary local businesses. A series of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) followed, including one which bans a 38-year-old woman using “aggressive, abusive or intimidating language or behaviour” preventing her entering the street “in a group of more than two people”.

At the heart of this problem lies the vexing balancing act between personal rights and responsibilities. If you speak in private to those responsible for enforcing ASBOs, or pursuing tenant evictions, they admit that the pendulum has swung much too far in the wrong direction.

Those seeking to prosecute this behaviour say they are doing so with one hand tied behind their back. Cash-strapped local authorities and over-stretched police often lack the capacity to respond effectively – or react at all. The legal processes can be drawn-out and complex – and biased in favour of the offender.

While it’s un-PC to advocate hard-line early intervention, there’s mounting evidence that we’re still too reluctant to respond decisively to damaging and dangerous behaviour. Or, in the East Lothian case, the response is wrong: to house anti-social residents in the same locality, to make it easier for relevant agencies to monitor their behaviour – or, worse still, alongside good neighbours in the vain hope that it will make them change their ways.

The structural language of the mechanisms deployed hints at this sense of misguided logic. Take ‘Acceptable Behaviour Contracts’. These voluntary written agreements between councils, landlords and tenants have no legal status.

Think about it for a moment. It has come to something when adults have to explicitly agree in writing “not to threaten or abuse residents or passers-by” or, worse still, “not to throw missiles” at them. People ought to know that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and act accordingly, without having to sign a piece of paper.

Tony Blair’s much-vaunted “respect agenda” has been lost by governments of all political persuasions over recent decades and more.

What strikes me most, and should worry us all, is that many now believe this is a problem we simply have to learn to live with. They view it as a battle too complex – or too costly – to tackle through the penal system or via social or welfare policy. It is, say some on the Left, an undesirable but inevitable outcome of unacceptable levels of poverty and deprivation. I doubt that this is completely true but no political party is without blame.
 Two years ago, one of the starkest problems which struck me on my return to Scotland after a decade in Asia was the level of “everyday” anti-social behaviour. That could be kids on bikes “buzzing” an elderly pedestrian, or hooded youths using unleashed dogs to passively threaten those who walk by.

I accept comparing Scotland to countries such as Singapore is probably a fruitless exercise. Crude comparisons fail to take into account different cultural norms, legal and penal systems, the role of the family and the impact of different levels of wealth and the welfare system on an individual’s behaviour.

But it’s worth trying to assess precisely why significant levels of anti-social behaviour have been “priced in” to the everyday currency of life in Scotland today when other countries still adopt zero tolerance. If the respect agenda works elsewhere, then we shouldn’t give up on it here.

Scotland is prepared to think out of the box. Moves towards tackling knife crime through a “public health” approach have been successful in Glasgow. But it is worth stressing that finding “reachable and teachable moments” to educate offenders were deployed alongside deterrent based measures, including, for a period, increased stop and search and tougher sentences.

Finding a lasting solution to anti-social behaviour and violence might mean having difficult conversations about relying less on community sentencing, increasing fines and using custodial sentences more.

Community Justice Scotland (CJS) says the criminal justice system has to be “swift and visible”, but “balanced and fair” – allowing offenders to “build better lives” for themselves and their families. But we must be very careful we don’t create a dangerous imbalance in the same way we have over rights and responsibilities.

The Management of Offenders (Scotland) Bill, currently before the Holyrood Parliament, suggests further use of electronic tagging. CJS is calling for more ambitious measures still. Such calls should be resisted until it’s proven they reduce crime and re-offending across the cycle.

With attention focused on Brexit and the threat of Indyref2, it would be all too easy to push complex policy issues aside. But it would be completely wrong to admit defeat by failing to wrestle with these intractable issues.

Anti-social behaviour hits the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. Taking action must remain a top-level policy priority for the Tory Party in Scotland, just as it should be for our political opponents.

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