The coalition agreement: consumers and crime

Welcome to the fourth in a series of posts going through the full coalition agreement section by section. You can read the full coalition document here.

A brief section in the coalition agreement on consumer protection offers a handful of positive policies – such as strong consumer protection, more pressure on credit card companies to keep their customers fully informed and clearer food labelling – which could have featured in any party’s manifesto. There is also the well meaning but fantastically vague promise to “take forward measures to enhance customer service in the private and public sectors”. Make of that what you will…

The crime and policing section is one where the Conservative influence on the coalition agreement is clearest. Whilst many parts of the document read as if they were mostly taken from a Liberal Democrat policy paper, this section has a distinctively Conservative flavour. How difficult the policies will be for Liberal Democrats to support will depend a lot on the details.

Take the pledge to “amend the health and safety laws that stand in the way of common sense policing”. That is Conservative rhetoric, but if the resulting proposals are sensible reforms they may well also get Liberal Democrat support. Time will tell. Another source of tension may be the proposal to “give people greater legal protection to prevent crime and apprehend criminals”.

Moving on from possible strains within the coalition to possible external hostility to it, the promise to “have a full review of the terms and conditions for police officer employment” may result in significant conflict with the police.

Alcohol features repeatedly with promises to ban sales at below-cost prices, bigger penalties for under-age alcohol sales, reviewing alcohol taxation and pricing “to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers”, an option for councils to charge more for late-night licenses (to pay for more policing) and more powers for councils and the police to remove or block licenses under the Licensing Act.

There are also some measures with a more liberal hue: better recording of hate crimes, no permanent bans on substances until advice received from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and a review of the US/UK Extradition Act.

Filling out the section is a smorgasbord of worthy intentions such as better crime statistics information for the public and more local meetings between the police and public.

Overall this is one of the most Conservative sections of the agreement, though that is tempered by the Conservative ministerial team at the Home Office having strong influences from the liberal and modernising sections of the Conservative Party. Even the Home Secretary, Theresa May, whilst not likely to be confused for a liberal, was the person who talked about her party’s need to move on from being seen as the “nasty party”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments and data you submit with them will be handled in line with the privacy and moderation policies.