Crime in Britain: Prevention measures could cut crime rates say Liberal Democrats

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The Independent Online
PREVENTION measures could cut crime rates by between 25 and 80 per cent, according to a survey of Liberal Democrat-led local authorities, writes Colin Brown.

Calling on the Government to give higher priority to crime prevention, Robert Maclennan, the party's home affairs spokesman, attacked proposals to allow 12 to 15-year-olds to be held in secure training centres.

'We believe if there is room for hope for local authorities in tackling the problem of crime, it lies here. It does not lie in new forms of detainment for young criminals,' Mr Maclennan said.

The survey of 29 local authorities showed that more investment in crime prevention measures could reduce crime immediately, without waiting two years for government legislation. Security measures had reduced multiple burglaries from 19 per cent to 1.75 per cent in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. A car park watch in New Forest cut car theft by 54 per cent. Torbay Borough Council said its vandal report telephone line and security patrols had helped to save pounds 100,000 in repairs.

Mr Maclennan opposes vigilante committees to combat crime, but he said the performance of Neighbourhood Watch schemes - the most common form of prevention in 96 per cent of the areas covered - was patchy, yet had produced the best results. But its effectiveness depended on the quality of co-operation between the community, police and local authorities.