Public should tackle the thugs - Home Secretary
Published 15/05/2010 | 05:00
MEMBERS of the public should intervene in order to stop the anti-social behaviour on the country's streets, Britain's new home secretary has said.
In her first interview since her appointment, Theresa May said she wanted to create an atmosphere in which people felt able to stop gangs of youths blighting neighbourhoods.
She suggested that more police would be on the beat to "help" citizens if confrontations threatened to become violent.
Ms May said her success in the post should be judged on whether "people feel safer in their own homes" and whether public faith in the police was restored.
She revealed that a priority for the new government would be the introduction of laws to protect people who tackled burglars and "good Samaritans" who took on trouble- makers.
She will also scrap dozens of Labour measures, such as the proposal to introduce ID cards, which she said represented a threat to civil liberties.
"We need to generate an environment in which people are able to have the confidence to intervene," said Mrs May.
"The more we are able to generate that confidence, the more people will feel confident about intervening with kids on the street corner. I would like to have a situation where people felt able to intervene."
Ms May, who was previously the shadow work and pensions secretary in parliament, also refused to rule out a reduction in the number of police officers under plans to reduce the home office's budget.
She also pledged to end the what she described as the "health and safety culture" in the police and return officers to the beat.
Ms May announced plans to take samples of the DNA of every prisoner in an attempt to make it easier for the police to catch re-offenders.
The new Conservative-led administration is poised to introduce a "Good Samaritan" law, which offers immunity to people intervening in an attempt to prevent crime or anti-social behaviour.
It follows a series of high-profile cases where so-called "have-a-go heroes" have been detained by the police and faced court action.
Meanwhile, in Washington yesterday, British foreign secretary William Hague promised a "strong but not slavish" relationship with the US.
However, there was little disguising his admiration for Hillary Clinton as the two met on his first trip abroad in his new job.
Standing with Mrs Clinton in the State Department, Mr Hague hailed the "sheer warmth of the welcome" the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government had received from Washington, saying he had come so quickly "to show we reciprocate that warmth".
Mr Cameron's very first call from a foreign leader had come from Barack Obama, he noted, in a clear bid to turn the page on the sometimes cool relationship between the president and the former prime minister, Gordon Brown. (© Daily Telegraph, London)