Howard salutes hi-tech policing

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL HOWARD, the Home Secretary, yesterday held out the prospect of the latest electronic technology 'preventing crime and catching criminals', writes Donald Macintyre.

Mr Howard's new emphasis on a hi-tech fight against crime came in a speech to the council, in which he mounted a robust and well-received defence both of his Criminal Justice Bill and the controversial changes to compensation for victims of crime. Those changes will mean severely reduced compensation for some victims and more for others.

Mr Howard cited what he said was evidence of the success of technological innovation in fighting crime:

The use of closed-circuit cameras in housing estates and shopping centres, which had led to the conviction of criminals 'from petty shoplifters to terrorist bombers'.

The use of cameras which has resulted in a 73 per cent reduction in crime in Airdrie, Strathclyde, and a 91 per cent cut in car crime in King's Lynn, Norfolk.

The use of vehicle-tracking devices that can catch the thief and recover the car.

DNA profiling, which Mr Howard said could become 'the fingerprinting of the 21st century'.

Computerisation of criminal records.

On cuts in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, Mr Howard said: 'We have the most generous compensation scheme for victims of crime in the world. And so it will continue to be, after the changes.'

Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, reasserted the Government's determination to reduce social spending, but he insisted the Government would not seek to means-test the basic state pension.

He said: 'We have no intention of punishing the prudent. The basic pension is a platform which people can build on. Not a trap-door to be removed from under the feet of the thrifty.'