Ming the Merciless gets tough on crime
LIB Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell wants communities to choose the punishment to fit the crime when it comes to anti-social behaviour. Sir Menzies put forward his proposal on a visit to the Ham&High office, ahead of the May 4 local author
LIB Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell wants communities to choose the punishment to fit the crime when it comes to anti-social behaviour.
Sir Menzies put forward his proposal on a visit to the Ham&High office, ahead of the May 4 local authority elections.
He defended the reluctance of Lib Dem local authorities to impose Anti Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos), a policy that contrasts with Labour councils, including Camden which has issued 220 Asbos.
Sir Menzies said: "In some parts of the country getting an Asbo against you is equivalent to having a declaration at Buckingham Palace - people wear their Asbos with pride.
"What you need is something which not just stops people doing the thing but deals with the causes of it.
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"If you spray paint the Swiss Cottage tube station the local community should have some say in what you're obliged to do.
"You could set up community crime committees - once you adopt the principle it is fairly straight forward to adopt a mechanism."
One of the Lib Dems' prime targets on May 4 is Haringey, where Lynne Featherstone overturned Barbara Roche's majority of more than 10,000 votes at last year's general election.
In Camden the party is third behind Labour and the Tories while in Westminster it does not hold a single seat.
The Lib Dems hope proposed police station closures will count against the incumbent Labour councils in Camden and Haringey.
Sir Menzies laid the blame for such closures at the door of one of the government's most controversial policies.
He said: "We voted against ID cards as a matter of principle and that's where money comes in. The government refuses to issue any clear estimate of what it may cost us, an LSE estimate I think last time was £1.8billion or something of that kind. That money is better spent on police, either personnel or keeping stations."
Another election issue is the current financial crisis in the NHS with 500 jobs under threat at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.
While the hospital management has been criticised by, among others, Lord Rodgers, one of the SDP founding gang of four, Sir Menzies pinned the blame, once more, at number 10.
He said: "I don't think it's a question of throwing more money, I think it's a question of giving trusts more freedom to conduct their own affairs under the knowledge that they have the obligation to meet their own budgets.
"Asking them to achieve targets, giving them inadequate funds and then beating them up seems to put the trusts in a difficult position."
Sir Menzies said he would leave it to councillors to decide who to side with in the event of a hung local authority. And with Labour and the Tories battling over the centre ground nationally, he did not put clear daylight between his party and its rivals.
He said: "I am not concerned with where others stand, I am concerned our party should stand where our principles direct and that in my opinion is the centre left."