Source: London Telegraph
By George Jones
Radical measures for tackling crime - ranging from monitoring the behaviour of the mentally ill with radio chips to hormone injections for sex offenders — are to be considered by the Government in a wide-ranging policy review ordered by Tony Blair.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that Labour had to renew its sense of leadership and energy as voters were getting bored with the party after 10 years in power.
He disclosed that he intended to stay in power until at least June to oversee a policy review aimed at ensuring that a "new New Labour" agenda would take the Government into the next election after he had left No 10.
The Cabinet Office published four policy review documents outlining the "big questions and choices" facing society in the next decade.
Cabinet ministers, civil servants and the public, through so-called citizen forums, will be asked to express a view.
Mr Blair asserted his grip on the Government's forward policy agenda as his most likely successor, Gordon Brown, flew to India for an official visit.
The Chancellor has indicated that he will not be bound by the reviews and has blocked Mr Blair's attempts to extend them to his own area of economic policy.
Mr Brown clearly wants a decisive break with the Blair legacy and has already started setting out his priorities, including spending more on education, a less overbearing state and a different style of government.
The policy review programme, which Mr Blair told his monthly Downing Street press conference had generated "real enthusiasm" across government, will be seen as his attempt to ensure that Mr Brown does not backtrack when he takes over.
The Prime Minister dismissed calls from some senior Labour figures to speed up his departure to allow Mr Brown to revitalise the Government before important elections in Scotland and Wales and English councils in May.
He gave the strongest indications yet that he intends to stay in office until the summer.
Asked whether he would be at a summit of European Union heads of government in Brussels on June 21, he responded without hesitation: "Of course."
His comments came after David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, told The Daily Telegraph that Labour would have to "defy political gravity" to win a fourth successive election and urged Mr Brown to adopt a "bold" agenda.
Mr Blair said he agreed with Mr Miliband's stark analysis of Labour's mid-term difficulties. But provide the Government did not retreat, "we will
come through this and come through it with the renewed sense of leadership and energy".
The options explored in the four documents dealing with public services, the role of the State, energy and the environment, and crime, justice and cohesion, are not Government policy but are intended to "facilitate discussion".
They show how the Government is thinking and its readiness to look at contentious and radical policies that have been tried abroad.
The most controversial paper dealing with law and order acknowledges that there will have to be "trade-offs" between liberty and security as technology and profiling are used to reduce crime.
It acknowledged that two thirds of the public believe crime is rising. People were less confident in the criminal justice system after experiencing it, while re-offending rates remained "stubbornly high".
While burglary had fallen, mugging had risen with the expansion of portable high-tech gadgets, and new crime opportunities such as identity theft and internet crime.
The policy paper confirmed the Government's objective of creating a surveillance society despite Mr Blair's denials of a "Big Brother" state. It said new anti-crime measures include face and voice recognition, a DNA database, identity cards, microchip monitoring and satellite surveillance — and confirmed that Britain has the most public CCTV systems in Europe.
It highlighted ways other countries have intervened to tackle crime and drug addiction — though it stresses such ideas "are not presently policies under consideration by the UK Government".
America is said to be "favourably disposed" towards preventing drug addiction through heroin and cocaine vaccination. It is also considering "more sophisticated" monitoring techniques, including a trial of "radio frequency identification chips" for the mentally ill.
Options for regulating behaviour include the use of legal restrictions on television beer adverts in use in over half of Europe. In Denmark, sex offenders are given hormone injections, while Dutch police recently sent text messages to warn citizens of an escaped paedophile.
Public sector unions are likely to be alarmed by suggestions of private and voluntary sectors playing an increasing role — such as the 14,000 bail bondsmen and thousands of bounty hunters who ensure defendants get to court.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007
Source: London Telegraph
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