06/11/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


06/11/2011

Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.


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In the Midlands: What next on our economic roller-coaster?

:00:44.:00:48.

The boss of John Lewis and global enterprise on the prospects at

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street level. And see you in court. But it will

:00:53.:01:03.
:01:03.:01:03.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2219 seconds

:01:03.:38:02.

that be an empty threat if police Hello again from the Midlands. Are

:38:02.:38:05.

the police playing judge and jury by dealing with crimes out-of-

:38:05.:38:10.

court? That's one of our talking points today. But let's begin by

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trying to fathom out what the events of the past week tell us

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about our region's economy. It began with the Government sharing

:38:16.:38:19.

�100 million from the Regional Growth Fund between 22 Midlands

:38:19.:38:24.

firms and projects, to create or protect 34,000 jobs. Then came the

:38:24.:38:27.

figures showing the UK economy was doing rather better than many had

:38:27.:38:33.

predicted. So what is the direction of economic travel here? With me

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today are Paul Uppal, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton

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South West. Before becoming an MP he ran his own business. And Joan

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Walley, the Labour MP for Stoke-on- Trent North, a city still smarting

:38:44.:38:47.

from its failure to get its own enterprise zone, to help bring in

:38:47.:38:55.

jobs and investment. First, though, we're going to hear

:38:55.:38:58.

from Andy Street. He's the man now in charge of the Birmingham and

:38:58.:39:01.

Solihull Local Economic Partnership, one of seven so-called LEPs that

:39:01.:39:06.

replace the Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands.

:39:06.:39:09.

Now, whether or not you recognise his name, you'll certainly know

:39:09.:39:12.

that of his business. He's the Managing Director of the department

:39:12.:39:18.

store John Lewis. For once the numbers do tell the

:39:18.:39:21.

story. With 29 department stores, six smaller John Lewis At Home

:39:21.:39:23.

outlets, and the online johnlewis.com operation, it's one

:39:23.:39:33.
:39:33.:39:34.

of the UK's instantly recognised retail brands. One of the things

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about leadership is doing the things that are right, not the

:39:37.:39:42.

things that are popular. And that leader is very much a local here.

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He went to King Edward's School in Birmingham, and now his commitment

:39:45.:39:48.

to his home town is reinforced, both through his chairmanship of

:39:48.:39:50.

the Local Economic Partnership, and as one of Britain's favourite

:39:51.:39:53.

shopkeepers, through John Lewis' decision to build their biggest

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store outside London as the centrepiece of the New Street

:39:55.:39:58.

Station redevelopment. Now charged with helping other local businesses

:39:58.:40:01.

to recover from our economic woes, Andy Street has owned up to the

:40:01.:40:10.

occasional moment of doubt and uncertainty. I remember the day the

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banks were rescued. I took time to read the daily newspapers and I sat

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in a coffee shop, thinking, oh, my God, what are we going to do?

:40:21.:40:25.

John Lewis Partnership is exactly that. The UK's biggest example of

:40:25.:40:29.

worker co-ownership. Its 76,500 staff are not just employees, they

:40:29.:40:31.

are partners, which begs the question whether their leading

:40:31.:40:34.

partner could do even better for himself by joining one of the big

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PLCs. I can do very nicely for myself running this organisation,

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thank you very much. In terms of being paid sufficiently, we are not

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paid as much as my equivalent colleagues but this is a far more

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fulfilling job. Not bad for a man who sells two washing-machines an

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hour and one Egyptian plain-dye towel every 15 seconds. I caught up

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with him on the 25th floor of The Cube building, opening next month

:41:02.:41:05.

as the �13 million Indigo hotel and Marco Pierre White restaurant,

:41:05.:41:08.

overlooking Birmingham city centre, now home to an enterprise zone

:41:08.:41:11.

aiming to ultimately to trigger the creation of 100,000 new jobs across

:41:11.:41:16.

the region. Many might have located it on the

:41:16.:41:24.

edge of the city either possibly in a disadvantaged suburb, but this is

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the quickest way of achieving economic growth. The city centre is

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the most vibrant part of the West Midlands economy and we can stretch

:41:33.:41:38.

the tout to next spring. What would your advice be too young people,

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where they feel very sore they have missed out? They can learn a little

:41:44.:41:47.

bit about how Birmingham and Solihull have been successful so

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far. We have worked really hard to understand exactly what the

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Government once and we have been quick to put our case in, and

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hopefully, we have met absolutely the criteria. Our evidence so far

:42:01.:42:05.

is that this has been a success then approach. When you look at the

:42:05.:42:09.

scale of the challenge this part of the country has in terms of getting

:42:09.:42:13.

investment in and new jobs, would it help you if George Osborne were

:42:13.:42:23.
:42:23.:42:24.

to soften the edge of Plan and move on? They have got to stick

:42:24.:42:28.

decisively to their deficit reduction plan. But at the same

:42:28.:42:31.

time, they have got to look for engines of growth and I believe

:42:31.:42:36.

they are trying to do that. If you look at the Regional Growth Fund,

:42:36.:42:41.

it is a useful contribution to the region's economy and we have

:42:41.:42:45.

certainly done very well out of both rounds of that money. In few

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look at a company like Emma Bridgewater, very good company, but

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they have just laid 20 people off. They said the problem is that they

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are not shifting enough stock through John Lewis. So people are

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keeping their money in their pockets? I am pleased you said it

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was figurative because I do not think they are blaming John Lewis

:43:07.:43:11.

on its own. People are spending less money but as well as the Emma

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Bridgewater story, we are working actively with the best of British

:43:16.:43:20.

manufacturers and we have got great stories where the design is right,

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the quality is right and the price is right. There is still a market

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to be seized. My personal view is the best companies will come

:43:29.:43:33.

through this difficult time. high-speed rail, potentially a

:43:33.:43:38.

high-speed link between Birmingham and London. A good thing or a bad

:43:38.:43:45.

thing? It could draw investment away from Birmingham to London.

:43:45.:43:50.

is cat -- it is categorically a good thing which is why the LEP

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came out in support of that proposal. And bear in mind, it is a

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cross-party proposal. We have looked at the characteristics for

:44:00.:44:04.

success of other outstanding city regions and parts of the world, and

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good connectivity, not just between Birmingham and London, but between

:44:08.:44:12.

Birmingham and Manchester, Birmingham and Europe, Birmingham

:44:12.:44:18.

and Leeds, is a prerequisite. More business will be easier if we can

:44:18.:44:24.

connect with our big markets. mayor for Bernard -- for Birmingham.

:44:24.:44:30.

A good thing or a bad thing? What really stands out is knowing who is

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accountable. Birmingham City Council is a big organisation and

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it is very clear who leads it. I am sure the current leader feels very

:44:39.:44:43.

accountable. So we already have good performance in that respect,

:44:43.:44:48.

but my personal view is that a personally elected mayor can take

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that one step further. That was Andy Street, and there is more on

:44:54.:45:00.

it might blog. Joan Whalley, you obviously very

:45:00.:45:06.

disappointed about the lack of an enterprise zone. But he said his

:45:06.:45:10.

job is to concentrate on his own and that the success he had is by

:45:10.:45:13.

working very closely with the Government to find out exactly what

:45:13.:45:18.

they wanted and to work hard to deliver that quickly? We would say

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that in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, we did just that.

:45:22.:45:27.

The problem was that the Government ring-fenced the number of local

:45:27.:45:31.

enterprise zones. You can imagine the angle right the way across the

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political parties and across the Chamber of Trade when we were not

:45:35.:45:41.

included in phase one or in phase two, and then the Government

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announced a further two and we had had more job losses than some of

:45:44.:45:50.

those areas and we were somewhat successful. It is very easy to say

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how it is possible to go about doing it but if you do not have

:45:54.:46:03.

that enhanced status, it is difficult to see that, no matter

:46:03.:46:08.

what the Government does, you can create those jobs. I think there is

:46:08.:46:14.

a lot of general sympathy? The case for Stoke is beyond doubt. We were

:46:14.:46:20.

led to believe in the first round, and I ask parliamentary questions

:46:20.:46:23.

on this, that it was about population figures and we would

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have qualified on that criteria there. We were very clear on what

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we wanted and I feel we now have to live with the fact that we have to

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find another route. Paul Uppal, you can understand how Joan Whalley

:46:38.:46:42.

feels, because in trying to rebalance the economy, you have a

:46:42.:46:47.

situation where you have an enterprise zone on the board of

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your city, which is great, but just up the motorway, Stoker, which

:46:51.:46:59.

appears and feels to get nothing. can appreciate her point of view

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and empathise but I think it is important that we say this. We can

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engage in political rhetoric on this but it is not going to help

:47:07.:47:11.

anybody watching this programme getting your job or sustain jobs.

:47:11.:47:16.

There is some good news out there. There is the Jaguar Land Rover

:47:16.:47:22.

story. But that does not help stoke very much? I think it helps all of

:47:22.:47:29.

the West Midlands regions. And the whole story, they should be

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congratulated on that and it helps cement the relationship. They are

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cementing the region and there are some good news stories out there.

:47:37.:47:44.

There was one from York constituency, in pottery? They

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needed jobs and then things took a turn for the better? Absolutely.

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This is not about political rhetoric. It is about getting what

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we can from the Regional Growth Fund, enhanced capital advances and

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I think this pottery is a great example. We have this Trust which

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has benefited from the Regional Growth Fund and now we have a

:48:09.:48:13.

further next door neighbour pottery, which is also a recipient of the

:48:13.:48:18.

second round of Regional Growth Fund. What we see is bottom-up

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regeneration, linking in. I think having the support of His Royal

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Highness really helps. What did the Trust do? They recognised that

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there, we have a piece of heritage which we would otherwise lose, that

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we had to find a way of protecting. And given the new owners that were

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there, he would see how you could come in and bring his expertise and

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brings more units to help small businesses starting up and then

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more people come through Stoke-on- Trent through the canal by any

:48:57.:49:03.

other means. I think he put another 7 million into it, didn't he? Let's

:49:03.:49:07.

hear what he had to say of. Once I heard about it and discovered how

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unique it was, I have to see if we could make sure it was saved and

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the work was able to remain intact, because it is a very special and

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unique survival and still incredibly popular all around the

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world. But higher also wanted to try and see if we could use this

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remarkable place as a means of helping to gradually regenerate

:49:32.:49:39.

other parts and indeed to spread things further out into Stoke-on-

:49:39.:49:49.
:49:49.:49:49.

Trent. Half the battle, I think, is to rebuild self-confidence and hope.

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And bring in investment from elsewhere. Here, for instance, we

:49:55.:50:01.

had to bring in private investment. Paul Uppal, it comes to something

:50:01.:50:05.

when you have to rely on the edge of the throne to come to the

:50:05.:50:13.

rescue? He did speak about self- confidence and hope, and one thing

:50:13.:50:17.

that has struck me recently, I met Mary Portas because we have had a

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big issue with empty shops in more than done. I was going down a road

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in a part of Walkhampton, and their bodies the Dudley Road, which are

:50:27.:50:31.

areas that have difficult conditions. -- part of

:50:31.:50:39.

Wolverhampton. There is an ambience and atmosphere of can-do. So I

:50:39.:50:46.

think that message of confidence and hope is a very important one.

:50:46.:50:51.

Let me tell you what one of the Richardson brothers said the other

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day. He reminded me of the incentives they had bend - 100%

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capital allowance, much greater freedoms than the current

:51:01.:51:05.

enterprise zone sell-out, and he said even then, it was a big

:51:05.:51:09.

struggle bringing companies in two merry hell, so surely with the

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weaker and less generous offer from these enterprise zones, it will be

:51:16.:51:22.

much harder? With all of these zones, you want to make sure you

:51:22.:51:25.

are creating new investment and not taking investment from surrounding

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areas. So it is important how you have that balancing act. There is a

:51:31.:51:38.

balance, is and there, Joan Whalley? Yes, and it is about the

:51:38.:51:41.

economy and the balance and how you factor these things together. The

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real message is to Government that it is not just how you deal with

:51:46.:51:50.

these enterprise zones. It is how every single department of the

:51:50.:51:54.

government, from local to the Treasury, and what we want in

:51:54.:51:57.

Stoke-on-Trent and we have said to the Prime Minister, is that we want

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all the ministers together to look at our needs and then make sure

:52:01.:52:05.

that on each and every issue, we have got a faster track into

:52:05.:52:10.

government. We must leave it there. It is a very important couple of

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months for the economy until Christmas. To you both, thank you

:52:14.:52:21.

for being with us. Serious offences involving indecent

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photographs of children, sexual assault and grievous bodily harm

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were just three types of crime committed here in the Midlands last

:52:26.:52:32.

year, where the offenders were punished without going to court.

:52:32.:52:37.

This was certainly news to me. I don't know about you. And if that

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comes as a surprise, it's certainly a concern to one Shropshire

:52:40.:52:43.

magistrate. He's so worried about an apparent rise in on-the-spot

:52:43.:52:45.

justice, that he submitted his own Freedom of Information request to

:52:45.:52:48.

West Mercia Police. He gave his results to BBC Shropshire's

:52:48.:52:58.
:52:58.:52:59.

Low level anti-social behaviour. The kind of crime police forces

:53:00.:53:02.

have the power to deal with themselves without going through

:53:02.:53:08.

the courts, but some think these powers are being taken too far. One

:53:08.:53:10.

Shropshire magistrate I've been talking to, who doesn't want to be

:53:10.:53:13.

identified, decided to try to find out exactly how often these powers

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were being used and the types of crime being punished directly by

:53:16.:53:24.

the police. West Mercia Police dealt with half of all crimes out

:53:24.:53:27.

of court last year, including some serious offences like distributing

:53:27.:53:29.

indecent pictures of children, wounding with intent and sexual

:53:29.:53:34.

assault. Nationwide research carried out by the Magistrates

:53:34.:53:44.
:53:44.:53:46.

Association shows similar results. We also saw offences of child abuse,

:53:46.:53:49.

arson, child pornography and a range of other offences like that

:53:49.:53:55.

being dealt with either by cautions or penalty notices for disorder.

:53:55.:53:59.

They are stepping over into dealing with matters and offences which

:53:59.:54:03.

should properly be dealt within the justice system in a court of law.

:54:03.:54:06.

Magistrates say there is no consistency either when it comes to

:54:06.:54:09.

dealing with crimes out of court, making this kind of justice a

:54:09.:54:13.

postcode lottery. Latest Ministry of Justice figures show that in the

:54:13.:54:15.

West Midlands, 32% of offences were dealt with through out-of-court

:54:15.:54:18.

disposals - specifically warnings, cautions or fines, compared to 36%

:54:18.:54:23.

in West Mercia and 44% in Warwickshire. John Macmillan is a

:54:23.:54:26.

local solicitor who's been arguing cases in the West Mercia area for

:54:26.:54:34.

40 years. This is not a judicial process. But it is an

:54:35.:54:38.

administrative process and a cheap and cheerful way of dealing with

:54:38.:54:42.

things, sweeping them under the carpet. It is getting crime,

:54:42.:54:46.

lifting the carpet, shoving it under it and saying, this has not

:54:46.:54:53.

really happened. The public don't know about it. West Mercia Police

:54:53.:54:55.

say they only use out-of-court punishments for low-level offences,

:54:55.:54:58.

but the figures we obtained from our Shropshire magistrate show some

:54:58.:55:01.

serious crimes were also dealt with in this way. It would be

:55:01.:55:06.

exceptional for those types of cases, the more serious cases, not

:55:06.:55:10.

to go to court if we believe the evidence was there to do so. There

:55:10.:55:14.

will be some occasions where those have been dealt with outside the

:55:14.:55:18.

court process with the clear consent of the victim and with the

:55:18.:55:22.

defendant actually admitting the crime, and with the senior

:55:22.:55:26.

oversight and officer and somebody from the Crown Prosecution Service.

:55:26.:55:29.

Thousands of people are processed in this custody centre in Worcester

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every year. Many will never see the inside of a courtroom. West Mercia

:55:34.:55:37.

Police says dealing with people out of court is not about saving money,

:55:37.:55:39.

it's about delivering fair and appropriate justice, as well as

:55:39.:55:43.

reducing re-offending. But many magistrates remain concerned about

:55:43.:55:52.

the police playing prosecutor, judge and jury.

:55:52.:55:58.

Those cases dealt with out-of-court do not go into the national

:55:58.:56:01.

database, so if I'd commit an offence in Cheltenham and then

:56:01.:56:06.

again in Stoke, there is no record that I have committed an offence

:56:06.:56:12.

before. His justice being done or is it being swept under the carpet?

:56:12.:56:16.

I think that point was made there that if all sides agree, you can

:56:16.:56:22.

have summary justice, in a sense. It is important that there is an

:56:22.:56:27.

element of common sense. I would say that, I am Conservative! I

:56:27.:56:32.

might take a side issue but if it is practical and common sense,

:56:32.:56:38.

don't have too much of an issue with it. Tony Blair was a great fan

:56:38.:56:42.

of on-the-spot fines if he could have got it through, so this is not

:56:42.:56:48.

confined to the Tories and Lib Dems? Absolutely not, and if it

:56:48.:56:52.

makes sense, why not? The disturbing part is if we are seeing

:56:52.:56:56.

the whole way in which it is applied to change and if it is

:56:56.:57:00.

extended to a more serious crimes, because in those circumstances, you

:57:00.:57:04.

do want to have fairness and justice. A brief word from each of

:57:04.:57:08.

you - it could be seen by journalists as a way of massaging

:57:08.:57:14.

the crime figures? Absolutely, especially when there is so much

:57:14.:57:18.

attention on access to information and have -- if the information is

:57:18.:57:22.

not there, it is dangerous. It is something we can look at and maybe

:57:22.:57:28.

it will help with the swift process of justice. But can you reassure

:57:28.:57:33.

the public that justice is safe in their hands? Absolutely. I think

:57:33.:57:37.

common sense will prevail. I think the big issue is the cuts to the

:57:38.:57:43.

police service. We must leave it there. Thank you for being with us.

:57:43.:57:49.

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