Daily Telegraph: Cameron condemns 'remorseless violence in Britain'

Friday, 11 January, 2008

DAVID Cameron last night condemned the "senseless'' and "remorseless'' violence in Britain today and promised to rid the police of its health and safety culture.

He gave warning that society was creeping towards "social acceptance of violence in our country''.

In a sign that he is keen to banish his "hug a hoodie'' image, he used recent cases of violence and death on Britain's streets to condemn Labour's "failed 'respect' agenda''.

He said gun and knife crime has spiralled out of control and that Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was showing "staggering complacency''.

He said: "In 2007, 27 teenagers were murdered in London. Fathers like Gary Newlove were brutally killed on their own doorstep.

"And in August, 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead in a car park on his way back from football training.

"Nearly five months on, he [his killer] is still at large. After that tragic killing, I said we had to be serious about saying, 'enough of all this', serious about saying, 'we won't put up with this anymore'.''

He added: "Our society is creeping slowly, with quiet resignation and muted resistance, to a state of cultural and social acceptance of violence.''

Mr Cameron was speaking on a visit to the new gym of Amir Khan, the Olympic silver medalist, in Bolton, where he praised the 21-year-old's work in getting kids off the streets and into the gym.

He also announced that David Ruffley , the Tories' police spokesman, is to create proposals to take away many of the health and safety restrictions that the police have to operate under.

"Make no mistake about the size of this machine that officers pursuing their vocation are up against,'' said Mr Cameron. "Police officers have to fill in a form a foot long every time they stop someone.

"And making an arrest usually involves four hours - or much longer - of paperwork back at the station.

"Police officers actually spend more time on paperwork than they do on patrol. That's completely wrong and it has to change.

"We need to get our police officers back on the street, getting on with the job they were trained to do and protecting the community they serve.''

The Tories want locally elected mayors or police commissioners, who are accountable to their electorate and provide beat-based, zero-tolerance policing.

However, Mr Cameron refuses to look at scrapping community support officers, despite many in the police service saying that they are simply policing on the cheap,

The Conservative leader claimed Gordon Brown had abandoned Tony Blair's failed "respect'' agenda but added that he was now ignoring the problems of violent Britain.

Mr Cameron, who never used the words "hug a hoodie'' and said it misrepresented his views on showing youngsters some care, maintained that this message was right.

"It means helping make sure kids get both the soft support they need - the love and attention of families and neighbours - and the hard boundaries that teach them there are lines they should not cross.''