Nick's Week

On Friday I visited the Home Office's Centre for Applied Science and Technology near Horsham.  The Centre is made up of scientists and engineers who develop technological solutions to fight crime.

It was a fascinating reminder of how important technological innovation has been in making us safer.  For instance, cars are now more secure, and offenders can be tracked using satellite technology.

From there, I went to Crawley where I met the local MP, Henry Smith, and council candidates for the local election, before going to the local police station where I had a useful and constructive chat with a number of police officers and staff.

I then went to Kirdford for a briefing from the National Farmers Union about current issues affecting the agricultural industry, and then held a surgery before returning to Arundel.

On Sunday I flew to Washington DC for a ministerial visit, focusing on policing, crime and criminal justice issues.  I have been visiting police forces, meeting officials including from the Administration, and delivering two speeches.

In my first speech I set out a new approach to fighting crime, arguing that we need to focus more on prevention rather than just picking up the pieces - and cost - when crimes are committed.

I said that this meant being 'smart on crime', which didn't mean going soft, but that as well as punishment some offenders also needed treatment, for instance for drugs or alcohol addiction or to address mental health problems.

I also said that the State too often acts like a bad parent, neglectful in repeatedly tolerating bad behaviour, then inevitably harsh.  Like a good parent, the State should set clear rules and boundaries from the start, dealing with transgression swiftly and surely to prevent escalation.

Along with two British chief constables, I will also be speaking at a conference of US police chiefs, where the focus will be on how forces are dealing with reduced budgets.

In fact many US forces have been facing far larger cuts in their funding, and loss of police officers, than our own, a reflection of the fact that the downturn has affected other countries, too. 

This Saturday I will be speaking at a policing conference at Windsor and then I'll have a day to catch up on ministerial work, letters from constituents and, I hope, some sleep!

Christopher N Howarth