‘Get Brexit Done’. Three words that dominated the Conservative Party’s successful election campaign, but for Boris Johnson to create a historic legacy he must also reinstate the values of law and order onto the Tory party. For the last nine years, the Tories were too soft on crime, and when factoring in the cuts they made to the police and legal services they set themselves up for immense criticism from their opponents.
In a time of economic difficulty Margaret Thatcher understood just how essential it was for the Conservatives to emerge from the 1980s as the party of law and order that she both increased numbers of police officers and their pay. In 1977 Edmund-Davies was authorised by Jim Callaghan to conduct a report on police pay. The report found that police officers’ pay needed to be increased by 45%. However, Labour back-peddled on these findings and Thatcher seized upon the opportunity and immediately implemented the measures to ensure she had support from the boys in blue for industrial conflict later on in her premiership. While the issue of pay is less prominent in today’s debate, both numbers and image of ‘Maggie’s Boot Boys’ provide the party with a blueprint for success.
The new One Nation conservative message of Red Toryism has the opportunity to extend on Thatcher’s legacy. While the party will increase spending that will appal many Thatcherites, the added dosage of social conservatism will ensure that a broad coalition of voters, stretching from Blyth Valley to Bexhill and Battle. Boris Johnson is undoubtedly the man to deliver this message. During his time as Mayor of London the crime rates fell by over a fifth, since his departure, Sadiq Khan has overseen a significant rise in violent crime.
In recent years the United Kingdom has suffered from serious and violent crime, whether that be the knife crime epidemic in London or the terrorist attacks that have become an all too frequent occurrence. As such, the government need to do three things: support the police, introduce stricter sentences and provide support for victims.
With regard to the police, the 20,000 officers re-introduced will undoubtedly help with the scale of the crime problem. The United Kingdom’s population is growing year-on-year, and the state will have to increase support for the police to stem the increase in crime that will result. In 2019 the police force amassed around 120,000 officers which is almost the same as the number in 1985, despite the nation’s population growing by 10,000,000 people.
But for one to just say that this is an issue of numbers neglects the liberalisation of law in Great Britain. Therefore, while supporting the police in numbers, the government need to support them in resources. Such promises like increasing the use of stop and search. A measure that in 2018 led to a positive outcome in almost a third of times it was conducted. Professor Bradford has supported such measures as: “Without stop and searches the police would be arresting more people to investigate these crimes. It is more efficient to search them.”
And while the Conservatives have not made any pledges to increase pay, they must follow through with their pledges to protect those who work in the emergency services through increasing sentences on those who assault such workers and in the Police Covenant proposed by the then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, earlier this year.
However, more needs to be done than just in the constabulary. Firstly, sentencing must become appropriate. In addition, by removing criminal liability for failing to pay the TV licence fee, the magistrates will free up time as currently, these offences clog up the magistrates, equating to around 13% of cases. Instead, this time could be used for those charged with knife possession and accelerate the process. This would not remove complete liability, but instead place it in the civil courts.
The Tories have made additional pledges to punish criminals suitably. Such pledges include: ending automatic halfway release, life imprisonment without parole for child murderers and even toughen restraints on tagging and curfews. This has become a hot topic after two prominent cases of vile criminals, John Worboys and Usman Khan. The former, a rapist was released after just ten-years in prison. The latter, the perpetrator of the 2019 London bridge attack, who served just half of his sentence for his original terrorist offence in 2012.
And by ‘Getting Brexit Done’ the British government will be able to introduce an Australian-style points-based system that will be able to prevent foreign criminals from coming to the United Kingdom. This has been an issue for voters. Last summer The Sun reported that the government were unable to prevent a serial-thief from Portugal from returning to the UK under freedom of movement laws.
Finally, Boris Johnson needs to reinforce that the Tories are a party of compassion through protecting victims of crime. The Domestic Abuse Bill is an excellent example of how the Conservatives can protect Britons from cruel treatment by supposed loved-ones. Fundamentally, criminals need to be punished for their offences, but victims cannot be ignored. For too long underfunding and mismanagement has neglected the victims and this must come to an end.
If the Conservatives can deliver on their manifesto pledges, then they can re-generate. They will remove themselves from the overly liberal hug-a-hoodie Cameroon party, into a party that represents the genuine concerns of British people. It will only be after this when Boris Johnson can leave a long-standing domestic legacy, that he will be able to become a great British leader.
By J Walters