Is this just electioneering?
An extra 10,000 new prison places will be created and stop-and-search powers expanded, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised.
The first new prison in the £2.5bn programme will be at HMP Full Sutton in Yorkshire, where expansion plans have previously been announced.
Last month, the government also pledged to recruit 20,000 extra police officers, nearly replacing the number of officers lost since the Conservatives returned to power.
But the 20,000 new police places were quickly debunked; the additions will add nothing to police ranks once natural wastage has been taken into account.
The Ministry of Justice has already said it was on course to create 3,360 places at two new prisons by 2023 and the Prison Reform Trust said the suggestion that all 10,000 newly-announced places really were new was “misleading” given earlier announcements.
The trust said prisons needed 12,000 more places just to eliminate overcrowding and accommodate new prisoners who have already been sentenced – and the announcement would increase the use of imprisonment before the capacity to provide it had been created.
As for stop-and-search powers – these had been reined in by Theresa May’s government after it was revealed that they are sometimes misused and that they disproportionately target black people – who were 9.5 times more likely to be searched than white people.
Now, a pilot scheme making it easier for police to search people without reasonable suspicion, in places where serious violence may occur, is being extended to all 43 forces across England and Wales.
But the results of the pilot scheme are not fully known yet. It is possible that the new measure will expose innocent citizens to even more abuse.
And this is the reason some commentators believe these pledges are just electioneering ploys.
They believe it is more likely that Boris Johnson wants his government to present the appearance of being tough on crime, in order to gain an electoral advantage.
The aim may be to contrive a public relations victory – painting the Tories as the “Party of Law and Order” once again, while Labour would be cast as opponents of these measures.
But Labour has in fact been calling for action to tackle violent crime for a considerable period of time.
The all-party Parliamentary group on knife crime was founded (and is chaired) by Labour MP Sarah Jones.
When she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday evening (August 11), it seemed clear that she did not approve of the measures announced by Mr Johnson and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
So perhaps this is just an election strategy. We’ll find out soon.