Lib Dems make youth crime vow

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Indy Politics
Competition to be tough on crime between Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, and Jack Straw, his Labour shadow, was condemned as "obscene" by Alex Carlile, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs.

"It's no more than a sort of spot the ball-and-chain competition," Mr Carlile, who is standing down at the election, said on BBC radio. His remarks could mark a serious rift with Labour on its promised crackdown on law and order, if Labour wins the election.

He accused the other parties of "demonising a generation" by failing to come up with suitable youth crime prevention policies and putting too many young people behind bars inappropriately. "You see evidence time and time again that crime prevention is the way to keep prison numbers down, not locking up more people in prisons. The evidence that prison works as a way of preventing people from committing crime simply doesn't exist," Mr Carlile said.

His party promised to tackle youth crime by expanding community sentencing and establishing targeted prevention schemes from an early age; and to stop the diversion of money from crime prevention to prison building under the Crime and Sentencing Bill.

Victims would be given a new deal under Liberal Democrat plans to introduce a restorative approach to justice, in some cases requiring offenders to compensate for the damage caused to their victims. The party's manifesto will pledge a review of sentencing. Money would be diverted from jails to concentrate on preventing crime and increasing conviction rates.