We can’t recreate the past and nor should we try. But I do believe in a country based on those values of respect, responsibility and opportunity.
ASBOs were controversial when they were introduced and they are not perfect. But I have had too many people in my constituency in tears about their neighbours from hell to believe our ASBO policy should just be torn up as the Tories plan.
Today, I am launching Labour’s local election campaign with a pledge that Labour councils will make it a priority to combat anti-social behaviour, including supporting police community support officers.
But ASBOs aren’t enough. We need to stop problems in communities getting to that stage. And I believe that there is a way we can do that better than we do now.
It is based on the values we share and that our parents and grandparents taught us. When people graffiti someone’s wall or vandalise their garden, there is a price paid by the victim and the community.
But if it is a first offence, too often it will result in a caution for the offender and nothing else. Too often the people who should be punished don’t take the punishment seriously while the victims don’t feel they are getting justice. And nothing is done to put the damage done right.
The offender may well go on to do the same thing many more times before eventually landing up with an ASBO or more severe punishment. That makes no sense.
I say: let’s nip the problems in the bud. Instead of just giving people a caution knowing they will commit further offences, those who do the wrong thing should be forced to make it up to the victim. Make good on the damage they have caused, help rebuild the community project, clean up the graffiti.
Of course, it won’t be appropriate in all circumstances and should only happen if the victim wants it to happen. But already this system is being trialed by a small number of police forces around the country and the results are encouraging.
When offenders have to confront the consequences of their crimes and meet their victims, they can come to understand what they have done and the damage they have caused. This has made some less likely to commit further offences: it puts them back onto the right path.
This shouldn’t just be something that happens occasionally in some places it should become a matter of course. A Labour Government would back this common sense policing.
When it comes to policing, David Cameron and this Tory-led Government don't get it. The people who brought us the millionaire tax cut while raiding pensioners for more, are just as out of touch when it comes to policing our communities. This Government is taking 16,000 police officers out of communities and stripping away vital powers like ASBOs.
Labour will be campaigning in these local elections to make our streets safer. Common sense policing with police and local authorities working together. Building communities with respect to all, responsibility by all and opportunity for all.