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Secretary of State for Scotland (Meetings)
First Minister's Question Time
Rt Hon Alex Salmond (Scottish National Party)
When Annabel Goldie was upbraiding me just then I was thinking that matron definitely knows best what I must and must not do.
I accept that some key commitments that we have been able to achieve have been achieved because we appealed for support across the Parliament. I am perfectly happy to acknowledge the Conservative party's support, which was essential in delivering the 1,000 extra police officers, just as, for example, the Liberal Democrats' support was essential when we removed back-end tuition fees in Scotland. That is the inevitability of minority Government.
Let us look at justice and policing policy in the round. Not only do we have the lowest crime rate in Scotland for 30 years but, for the first time, people's fear of crime in communities is falling. The reason why is precisely that we have those extra officers on the streets. That is the essence of what we should be trying to do and what we have achieved together—at least to some extent—during the past few years.
However, I gently remind Annabel Goldie that she should cast a look at what her colleagues south of the border are doing. It seems to me that on a number of aspects of the approach to crime and punishment Kenneth Clarke is following not Annabel Goldie's prescription and policies but the SNP Government in Scotland's prescription and policies. I think that Kenneth Clarke is wise to say that short sentences have little value compared with alternative forms of punishment. He is wise to follow that line. Of course, that policy was put through the Parliament with the support of not the Conservative party but the Liberal Democrats.
Over the piece, I think that we can say that together we have achieved substantial things in the justice policy of Scotland. What really matters is that having those police on the streets is leading to a 30-year low in recorded crime in Scotland.