Brown orders bobbies to stay on the beat

As the general election looms, Gordon Brown has stepped up his bid to retain power and insisted that more needs to be done to battle crime. And with the general public rapidly losing faith in their local police forces, the Prime Minister recommended that keeping bobbies on the beat would help to increase public confidence.

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The government's own targets say that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) should spend at least 80% of their time on the mean streets and Mr Brown insisted that to miss the target was simply not "acceptable".

Conservative leader David Cameron claims that Britain is a "broken society", but Gordon Brown railed against his rival, implying that the Tory party was guilty of scare-mongering when it came to crime figures. "Sometimes as damaging as the fear of crime is the crime of fear," he said in a speech in Reading.

As well as keeping a police presence on Britain's streets 80% of the time, targets require that non-emergency inquiries are responded to within 24 hours and monthly beat meetings held. Mr Brown urged local councils not to cut budgets when it came to front-line law and order, saying: "My challenge to local authorities and police authorities around the country is to match our commitment to protecting front-line policing – or else explain to their communities why they are not prepared to do so."

Though the risk of becoming a victim of crime is at its lowest since the start of the British Crime Survey in the 1980s, there has been no reduction in fear of crime amongst the British public.

So do you believe that a police presence on the street can reduce this culture of fear, or do the problems of "broken Britain" run deeper?