Letwin reveals sheriffs plan

The Tories today unveiled plans to "reclaim the streets" from criminals by giving voters the power to elect a sheriff to run the local police.

And they would have control of thousands of extra patrol officers under a massive expansion paid for by far-reaching changes to the asylum system.

These were some of the proposals put to the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool by shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin.

Outlining his plans to remove much control of policing from the hands of the Home Secretary, he said: "We are going to give people a real say on the policing of their neighbourhoods.

"Today, I'm publishing and publishing for public consultation on the web - radical proposals to hand power over neighbourhood policing back to local communities. It works in other countries. Why can't we have it working here?

"We will remove, by law, the Home Secretary's power over local policing. We will give every Chief Constable a cast-iron legal guarantee of operational independence. And we will put each local police force under the direct, democratic control of local people.

"That means wherever you live, your Chief Constable will answer to someone you elected. If you don't like the way your neighbourhood is policed, with a Conservative government, you will be able to vote for change.

"The worst thing about the so-called low-level crime and disorder that wreck so many neighbourhoods, is that law-abiding people feel powerless to do anything about it."

Mr Letwin also vowed that a Tory government would boost police numbers in a bid to emulate the success of New York in cutting crime.

"We must put the police back on our streets. That is why the Conservative Party is committed to having 40,000 more police officers than there were at the beginning of this year."

Most of the cost of recruiting them would come from "sorting out the shambles" of the asylum system which cost the country £1.8 billion a year, he said.

"We will replace the present asylum system, in its entirety with a system of quotas for genuine refugees and the offshore processing of all claims, to deter all but genuine claims for protection from persecution."

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