At Cabinet on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said that he was setting the government a target of cutting violent crime by 20 per cent. As I say in the magazine this week, this will be the focus of the new Cobra-style Cabinet committee on crime that he will chair with Priti Patel as his deputy.
This target is revealing of how Boris Johnson plans to govern. He won’t be afraid to set ambitious targets to try and focus minds. He told Cabinet that he wanted the committee to look at everything from the influence of ‘lefty criminologists’, a phrase that shows the newspaper columnist in him is still alive and kicking, to whether elected Police and Crime Commissioners were working as intended.
The target is also revealing of Tory worries that the spike in violent crime is threatening their reputation as the party of law and order. I understand that Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, told Cabinet that cutting crime was ‘basic hygiene’ for a Tory government.
Interestingly, Buckland and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, were in harmony on how best to tackle violent crime. The institutional tension between the two departments summed up by Theresa May’s jibe, when she was Home Sectary and Ken Clarke was Justice Secretary, that she ‘locked ‘em up and he let ‘em out’ appears to be gone.