The current approach to tackling crime in Britain is wrong. Politicians think it is a vote winner to appear ‘tough on crime’ while ignoring many of the causes of crime: poverty, social alienation and systematic discrimination.
The collateral damage of the criminal justice process is also profound. A criminal record is a life sentence for many: an ongoing obstacle to participation in work and the wider community. Families and communities whose loved ones are arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned and supervised experience deep and lasting loss. Collateral damage is also found in the stress experienced by many victims of crime, whose traumas and distress are often left unresolved, and in the dissatisfaction of witnesses, whose experience of the criminal justice process can be so negative.
Criminal justice also crowds out other, more innovative, just and effective policy and practice solutions to the problems our society faces. It is good at punishing certain individuals and groups. It fails to prevent social problems from arising, or to resolve those that occur.
Too many people are in prison, too many people suffer injustice or have their lives destroyed by a system that is geared towards punishment rather than rehabilitation. Instead of this socially damaging approach, Left Unity will fight the causes of crime, eradicating poverty, increasing opportunities and ending the hopeless and self-defeating war on drugs. This will include legalising cannabis and decriminalising other drugs.
We want to build strong communities, expand youth facilities and improve public safety through policies that make our towns and cities better and cleaner environments. Prisons will be refocused towards rehabilitation, on helping people away from crime and back into society.
The war on terror is being used to create scapegoats and persecute communities and has become a ‘catch-all’ law with a chilling effect on political dissent. It is bound up with racism and imperialism.
We are in favour of repealing all anti-terror legislation, ending all collaboration with foreign governments fighting the so-called war on terror and for the arrest of anyone involved in torture, rendition or other crimes against humanity. There must be no more detentions without trial or secret trials.
Time and time again we see police attacks on protesters and young people who are fighting back against injustice. The police are used by the government to clamp down on our civil rights, including the right to protest.
We are on the side of those who resist austerity and poverty, not those who repress. Disarm the police: no more tasers, extendable batons or CS spray. No water cannons in Britain. End stop and search as a policy as it is disproportionately used as a racist measure against young black men.
Left Unity is opposed to any attempts at the suspension of habeas corpus and will defend the right of trial by jury of our peers in open courts. We also defend the presumption of innocence and are against the right to silence being used as indicative of guilt.
All legal aid funding should be reinstated, and the privatisation of the criminal justice system must end. We support the abolition of police and crime commissioners, to be replaced by directly elected police authorities.
Left Unity opposes the government proposal to repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights. If repealed it will lead to further miscarriages of justice, more attacks on the right to protest, more state surveillance over ordinary people, and more attacks on migrants and foreign nationals.
We fully support the rights of all people, regardless of background, culture, class, ethnicity, social status etc, to seek redress in the courts system against injustice and oppression in all its forms. The Human Rights Act provides important avenues for people to do this.
Left Unity does not uncritically endorse all judgements of the European Commission on Human Rights and supports progressive reforms to the European Convention itself where necessary, for example, the inclusion of a right to strike in the Convention.
Left Unity opposes state surveillance of internet traffic and demands the closure of GCHQ and the opening of its archives for public inspection.
We urgently support the calls to see more action taken around the endemic problem of child abuse and violence that has been covered up by the system. Left Unity has worked with survivors and campaigners on this issue to challenge for a full and free abuse inquiry headed by someone not linked to the establishment.
Left Unity pledges also to fight for a better funded service to allow social workers, teachers, care workers, GPs, nurses and medical staff to detect child abuse at an early stage.
Governments and businesses regularly try to dominate and control the internet, using copyright laws and intellectual property rules to harass people and limit access to culture.
The scandal of intelligence agencies reading our emails and snooping on our online histories must end. Left Unity is in favour of internet freedom, an end to arbitrary censorship and support for the right to privacy online.
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Left Unity is a member of the European Left Party.
Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.
Sat 21 Mar, 12.00-18.00
March Against Racism
Events in London and Glasgow.
Sign up to the Left Unity email newsletter.
Get the latest Left Unity resources.