One of Britain’s greatest social revolutions in recent years has been the dramatic decline in crime. Of course, lawbreaking remained too high, but burglary and many other forms of crime fell substantially. This is one reason why inner cities enjoyed a renaissance. But just as our establishment is taking our economic strength and low unemployment for granted, so it assumes that a low-crime society is the natural state of affairs.
Theresa May needs to remember that the Government’s mission is to protect people’s lives, liberty and property.
This is complacent. In London last week there were six deaths from knife crime in as many days; tragically, this was an indication of a broader reversal. After decades of crime in England and Wales trending downwards – it almost halved from 1995 to 2010 – violence is clearly on the rise again. UK knife crime went up 14 per cent last year, gun crime by 13 per cent.
The current government appears to have forgotten that the historic decline didn’t happen by accident. There were demographic shifts, true, but the real difference was Michael Howard’s rejection of a Marxist approach to crime that saw it as no one’s fault or even as a legitimate form of protest. Locking offenders up, he showed, works. Even New Labour embraced zero tolerance tactics.
Yet in recent years policing has once again been hijacked by Left-wing politics – this time with its obsession for recording hate crime and pursuing past sex abuse cases. Police forces imply that budget cuts are to blame, but these have simply returned policing to the staffing levels of the early Noughties. It’s about attitude, not money. Theresa May needs to remember that the Government’s first, central mission is to protect people’s lives, liberty and property. Get that right and the Just About Managings will reward her at the ballot box.