James Forsyth

Grayling goes Dutch

Grayling goes Dutch
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Chris Grayling’s speech tonight to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at KCL is an attempt to set out the intellectual underpinnings behind the Tories’ home affairs policies. To my mind, the two most interesting things in it are how Holland is influencing Grayling thinking and his reassertion of the Tory commitment to elected police commissioners.

To deal with the later first, there were murmurings in Westminster that Grayling was not keen on this idea which would transfer significant powers away from the Home Secretary. Indeed, word was that the leadership were becoming frustrated with Grayling’s failure to develop plans for how the implementation of this idea would work. But in this speech, Grayling is absolutely clear that elected police commissioners are a central plank of the Tory approach to dealing with crime. This is welcome news. Accountability to the local community will make the police concentrate on the crimes that have the worst impact on peoples’ way of life.

In home affairs debates, Holland is normally only referenced for its liberal approach to drugs. But what interests Grayling is its use of non-judicial penalties that can quickly be enforced like grounding orders. The idea is that these penalties restore the link between the offence and the punishment, demonstrate that actions have consequences while not giving people a criminal record. If this innovation travels, then these orders could be an extremely effective way of tackling anti-social behaviour. 

 

Grayling has had a bit of a rough time of it recently with his Wire speech getting hostile reviews and his conference speech being overshadowed by his Dannatt gaffe. But if the Tories can put meat on the bones of the ideas laid out in this speech, then they will have a strong set of policies in this area to take to the electorate.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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