Tony Blair, Labour's home affairs spokesman, said: 'Of course, the Metropolitan Police are trying hard to curb crime and in some areas are being successful. But they need to balance out the areas of success with the problems.'
Mr Blair said he was 'astonished' that less than one in five crimes in London was solved, rising to one in ten for burglaries. He accused Mr Clarke of implying that crimes of burglary and against property were not in the same league as violence against a person. 'Anybody who has suffered a burglary knows that it is more than simply the fact their home is broken into. It is the invasion of the sanctity of people's homes.'
He accused the Government of an 'obdurate refusal to recognise the clear link between the environment in which people live and the way that they behave'.
Ministers could not back the efforts of people and the police 'unless they accept their full responsibility, not just for policing, but for the state of the economy and for the state of the nation as whole.
'It is their failure to do so, their belief that government inaction is always preferable to government action, that leaves us with no confidence here or in the rest of Britain that they are people that can turn back the rising tide of crime.'
Mr Blair did, however, join with Mr Clarke in welcoming the appointment of Paul Condon, 45, the Chief Constable of Kent, to the post of commissioner, describing him as 'highly regarded'. His first challenge would be to prevent crimes in London passing 1 million for the first time, Mr Blair added.
During the debate on policing in London, Michael Shersby (C, Uxbridge), the parliamentary adviser to the Police Federation, demanded that police be allowed to ask a magistrate or judge for authority to take samples of body fluids from suspects for DNA testing, such as in a rape case.
He also called for police to be equipped with side-handled batons, longer than their truncheons. At present the police had to get in close and assailants were often able to grab their truncheons. 'The result is that the officer can find himself beaten with his own truncheon,' he said.
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