"Cameron In Clash With Right-Wing Over Police Reforms."

SecurityThat mischievous headline appears in this morning’s Independent but it could hardly be further from the truth.

David Cameron’s consensual approach to education and NHS reform has disappointed reformist conservatives but the Tory leader’s bold approach to the police service – largely untouched by Margaret Thatcher or Michael Howard – should be welcomed by the same people.   Those unthinking conservatives who don’t like the way that David Cameron is standing up to big business probably won’t like his police reforms either.  Such conservatives think that the Tory Party should always be on the side of big business, the police service, the army and other traditional sources of Tory support.  But conservatives should be the reliable champions of consumer interests – not producer interests…

David Cameron is standing up for the consumer and small businesses when he worries that big business can conspire against the public interest.  Conservatives shouldn’t be the party of big business (remember how the CBI attacked Thatcher’s reforms of the early 1980s?) but should be the champion of the little guy and of greater competition.  Many big businesses use regulation and other restrictive measures to frustrate emerging competitors.  Similarly conservatives shouldn’t defend the police and its increasingly close relationship with the political establishment.  Conservatives should be the champion of the communities who aren’t getting proper policing whilst officers’ time is wasted on bureaucracy and political correctness.

A leader in this morning’s Telegraph is suitably enthusiastic about Mr Cameron’s police reforms – describing them as exhibiting a "welcome boldness".

Reform_1Also enthusiastic is the think tank Reform.  Reform’s former director is Nick Herbert MP – the new shadow minister for police reform.  Reform’s verdict on their co-founder’s new work?  Very positive:

"Today’s Conservative Party proposals for police reform are the basis of a radical agenda that would transform criminal justice in Britain.  The focus on accountability – as Reform has argued – is the key structural change required to trigger the development of beat-based and zero tolerance policing models that the public have long desired.  The effects of accountability on crime levels in England and Wales could be dramatic, as the record of American cities such as Boston and New York shows.  The Party’s 2005 Manifesto pledge to recruit an extra 40,000 police officers was not repeated, and may have been shelved.  If so, this new position – focusing on structures rather than more manpower – may represent a new focus on raising police productivity.  Today’s radical agenda contrasts starkly with the Party’s policies in the areas of health, education and the economy, where several recent announcements have left Conservative policy “almost indistinguishable” to that of the Government (see Reform bulletin, 13 January 2006)."

The same link provides an excellent summary of the party’s police reform proposals.