Crime is a top issue for British voters

Ipsos Mori Issues Index Dec 2012

Despite - or perhaps in part because of - the economic crisis, crime remains one of the top issues voters care about. The December 2012 Issues Index from Ipsos MORI shows recent figures. Asked unprompted to name the most/other important issues facing Britain today, crime/law and order ranked above rising prices, the NHS, education and pensions as priorities for British voters. Only the economy/unemployment and race relations/immigration were ranked higher.

The aggregate data for every month of 2012 reveals that the older someone is (and so the more likely they are to vote), the more likely they are to be concerned about crime and law and order. Ethnic minority voters are especially concerned about crime.

Tougher sentencing is overwhelmingly popular - especially in the North

Northern Lights cover
In 2012, polling revealed that tougher sentencing for criminals and tackling the abuse of human rights would be especially popular in the many Northern constituencies likely to be decisive at the next General Election. Evidence-based criminal justice policies are overwhelmingly popular in the country as a whole, but even more so in the North.

YouGov polled a representative and geographically broad sample of the population for the think tank Policy Exchange. The polling data is available in Appendix 1 to the report Northern Lights.

  • 69% agreed that "criminals should be given longer sentences, even if that means we have to build more prisons" - only 20% disagreed.
  • As well as being far more numerous, supporters of more prisons feel much more strongly about it than opponents. More than half of those who agreed with the above statement said they "strongly agree", while of the 20% who disagreed only 1 in 4 (5%) "strongly" disagreed. 
  • Tougher sentencing would be most popular with Northern voters, with 73% agreeing and 16% disagreeing.
Human rights:
  • 72% of the British public agreed that "human rights have become a charter for criminals and the undeserving". 16% disagreed.
  • Strength of feeling was similar as with sentencing. Almost two thirds of those who agreed "strongly agreed" while just over 1 in 3 who disagreed felt strongly.
  •  The evidence suggests Labour could more competitive in the South and the Conservatives more competitive in the North by tackling abuse of the concept of human rights. 78% in the South outside London and 76% in the North agreed, while only 14% disagreed in both regions.
Party politics:
  • There is cynicism about the Conservatives' and Liberal Democrats' ability to respond to voters wishes on crime. Only 23% of voters felt that a consequence of the 2010 Election was that criminals would get tougher sentences. 56% thought this was false. 
  • Voters also expressed cynicism that the political parties offer voters a choice, suggesting a gap in the market for the party that can reflect the views above. 59% agreed that "the political parties are pretty much all the same these days" while only 32% disagreed.