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LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on assuming office in 1997, said his government would be tough on crime and its causes. Although police numbers have increased with police pay, the proportion of reported crimes that have been solved has not shown significant improvement. Filling out bureaucratic forms and chasing after illusory targets have reduced the value of the increase in police numbers.

Even as various criminal justice measures have led to increases in the length of prison sentences and minimum sentences set for specific crimes have reduced the sentencing discretion of judges, ministers, in response to media hysteria, have criticized judges for being too lenient. Government relations with the judiciary have reached a low point. The lord chief justice has criticized the government’s high regard for imprisonment and has called for more use of community punishment as an alternative for nonviolent offenders.

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