Earlier in the year I attended a Have Your Say On Crime event in Gosport. It was a good opportunity for residents to raise their concerns and it was great to hear from key local figures in fighting crime and meet the community organisations that have helped to bring about a drop in crime of 11 per cent in the Gosport area.
However, anti-social behaviour and crime, or at least the fear of crime, are still a worry for many people.
Under the Labour government a culture of anti-social behaviour was allowed to thrive and little was done to reassure the public that their communities were safe.
People were even afraid to defend themselves and their own homes – we all remember the story of Tony Martin, the farmer convicted of killing an intruder who entered his home.
Crime not only destroys the lives of victims and perpetrators alike, but also sends shockwaves throughout entire communities, isolating and dividing people in an atmosphere of fear.
In Westminster, the temptation has always been to use crime as a political football. I’ve always found this to be incredibly unhelpful when trying to understand how we can create a legal framework that ensures fairness but also creates a credible deterrent to crime.
Our mission is to make sure that families can feel safe in their homes and that people can walk the streets freely and without fear.
The legislative proposals set out by the Justice Secretary recently are about making sure this is the case. They include a tough package to fight crime which puts the system on the side of the victim.
For the first time, we will introduce a compulsory jail term for anyone threatening someone with a knife. Secondly, we’re proposing – and will consult on – making squatting a criminal offence.
Thirdly, we will put it beyond doubt that homeowners and small shopkeepers who use reasonable force to defend themselves or their properties will not be prosecuted.