Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): On that point, one of the things that Government and Opposition Front Benchers have talked about over the last few years is a reduction in bureaucracy. Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that his proposals for grounding orders will not lead to more bureaucracy? The police would have to visit the youngsters’ homes in order to check that they were still there once they were subject to such orders. Has he considered that possible consequence of what he has suggested?
Chris Grayling: The right hon. Gentleman refers to my proposal on grounding orders, and I will happily deal now with that issue, about which I have talked extensively to police officers. The big problem is that there is nothing between a police officer meeting a gang of young people on the streets and the criminal justice system except for the Government’s clumsy system of antisocial behaviour orders, which take months, and multiple agencies, to deliver. Police officers say that they want something simple and straightforward that gives them some power to deal immediately with the problems that they face. They do not have such powers today, and I believe that my proposals will grant them in a way that is quick, simple and not bureaucratic.
The Government’s record speaks for itself. There has been a decade of failure to get to grips with law and order problems. Violent crime is up almost 80 per cent., robbery is up 27 per cent., criminal damage is up past 1 million offences, with nearly 3,000 committed every day, fatal stabbings are up by a third, and gun crime has nearly doubled, with injuries from gun crime up almost fourfold—and the Government’s response has been to be soft on crime. They have let people out of prison early, as my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) rightly said. Since the Prime Minister came to power, 47,000 people have been released early from prison, including 9,000 convicted of violent offences. Nearly 1,000 crimes have been committed by criminals who have been released early—and they are only the ones who have been caught. Five out of six offenders convicted of knife possession get off without a jail sentence. More and more offenders are let off with penalty notices, half of which are not even paid.
- “a culture of broken homes, truancy, poor education, drugs, no job, or dead end jobs…when we sow the seeds of such a culture, we should not be surprised at the harvest we reap”.
Those words are not mine, but those of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking back in 1993. He was right to say what he said then. This Government have utterly failed to get to grips with those challenges.
We are still waiting for real action on welfare reform 10 years on. On family policy, this Government have made it more financially attractive for some couples to live apart. The Government have thrown billions at our education system, but utterly failed to tackle truancy, indiscipline and endemic educational failure.