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March 31, 2015 6:56 PM

Crime has fallen to an all-time low since the Liberal Democrats entered government. But our work has only just begun: we are focusing on what works to cut crime and protect victims. For too long, the other parties talked tough and wasted our money: that's because simply locking more people up in prison is expensive and will not cut crime.

We will roll out an evidence-based, 'what works' approach across the whole criminal justice system. We will tackle the long-term causes of crime like drug and alcohol addiction and mental health problems. And when people report crimes we will make sure the police take them seriously and take action to catch the criminals.

Record of delivery Promise of more
Crime is down by 10% - that means fewer homes burgled, fewer communities blighted and fewer people hurt. Roll out evidence-based policing to ensure that resources are used to maximum effect to cut crime.
Improved treatment for addiction and mental health problems in prison, and drug and mental health workers in police stations. End the imprisonment of people whose only offence is to be a drug user, and develop effective treatment programmes for users outside the criminal justice system.
More prisoners working longer hours - with wages contributing to a Victims' Fund. Reform prisons to focus on turning offenders away from a life of crime.

Key Policies

1. Evidence-based policing. We will strengthen the new College of Policing, with more resources to fund studies and trials of what works to cut crime. We will extend online crime maps to use data more effectively to reduce crime. We will also scrap Police and Crime Commissioners and replace them with locally accountable boards, using the £75m they cost to run to pay for frontline policing.

2. Drug policy reform. Drugs continue to cause immense harm to individuals and communities, while the trade in drugs lines the pockets of organised criminal gangs. We desperately need to find more effective ways of getting to grips with the problem. We set up a Home Office study to look at the experience in Portugal where they treat drug use as a health problem rather than a criminal justice problem. This has not increased drug use but it has seen dramatic health benefits. We would pilot this approach by diverting users into treatment and education, and applying civil fines to those who don't change their behaviour.

3. Reforming prisons. We want prisons to be places of work, rehabilitation and learning, so that offenders get the skills they need to turn their lives around. Prisoners will receive an education and skills assessment within one week, start a relevant course and programme of support within one month and be able to complete courses on release. Getting a job is one of the key factors in reducing reoffending - that's why we will challenge offenders to improve their chances.

But you've reduced police numbers?
We've had to make difficult funding decisions, and there has had to be a small fall in police numbers, but we've ensured that a greater proportion of police spend their time on the beat. Under the Liberal Democrats the public are safer than ever, with crime at its lowest recorded level.

Are you saying that drugs aren't harmful?
No - we are very clear that illegal drugs are harmful and that drug users need to have their behaviour challenged. But prison is not an effective way of doing that. Many other penalties are available. The primary aim for sentences should be to see drug use as a health problem that needs appropriate treatment. Put simply, if you're anti-drugs you should be pro-reform.


1. Police reform is working. Crime has fallen by 32% during the Coalition Government that's 2.4 million fewer crimes per year.[i]
2. According to the crime survey, there were 317,000 fewer vehicles offences and 400,000 fewer acts of violence in the year ending Sept 2014 than in 2010.[ii]
3. The number of women in prison has fallen by 9% during the Coalition Government.[ii]
4. Community sentences are more effective than prison by 8.3% at reducing re-offending rates after a year.[iv]


1. Crime is at its lowest level in since 1981 when it was first surveyed, it is 63% lower than its peak in 1995.[v]
2. Over the last decade violent crime has dropped by 41%.[vi]
3. Over 1,000 people a year in England and Wales are imprisoned for possession of drugs for their own personal use.[vii]
4. There are 127,909 police officers in the 43 police forces in England and Wales.[viii]

[i] ONS Statistical bulletin: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending June 2014

[ii] ONS Statistical bulletin: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending June 2014

[iii] Prison Population figures 2014

[iv] Ministry of Justice (2011) Compendium of reoffending statistics

[v] Crime in England and Wales, Year

[vi] ONS Statistical bulletin: Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending June 2014

[vii] Ending imprisonment for the possession of drugs for personal use

[viii] Home Office, Police Work Force England and Wales, July 2014