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Blair Airs New Ideas In Crucial Battle To Beat Crime‎

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Prime Minister Tony Blair, Editor of The Somali Voice KaysarCabdilaahi Maxamed

Bristol, UK, June 23, 2006 – Tony Blair may be under fire in the Commons and the country over law and order. But an invited audience of community leaders from Bristol was ready to hear the Prime Minister's new ideas on how his Government can effectively fight back against criminals.

After his visit to crime victims in Southmead, Mr. Blair made an appearance at the Labor Party's first ever Let's Talk event.

The party will be holding 50 of these events across the country, giving people a chance to discuss the hot political topics.

This one took place in the sports hall of the St Paul's Community Sports Academy in Newfoundland Road crime and civil liberties were on the agenda.

Mr. Blair told the meeting: "We also must look at policing. People want community policing that is visible. Although we will not be able to return to a bobby on the beat like we did in the 1950s, we do need to make changes."

The event was attended by about 50 representatives of community and crime-fighting organizations, local MPs and councilors.

They first heard a speech by Hazel Blears MP, Minister Without Portfolio at the Cabinet Office, followed Bristol lawyer Kerry Barker, Sue Lloyd of Victim Support Avonvale and Andy Brown of offender rehabilitation charity Community Links for Ex-Offenders.

The delegates then were divided into groups and retired to tables at the back of the sports hall to discuss crime and civil liberties issues.

Towards the end of the discussion Tony Blair entered the room, flanked by a horde of attendants. He began moving from table to table to listen to the heated debates.

But after a few minutes all the delegates were called back to their original seats, meaning Mr. Blair did not get a chance to sit on all six of the tables. He was heard to say: "But I haven't been to all the other tables yet."

After hearing suggestions about how to improve the country's criminal justice system, Mr. Blair promised the feedback would be noted by Labour's policy advisors.

After the meeting many of the delegates the Evening Post spoke to were impressed.

Kayser Maxamed, editor of the Somali Voice, said: "It was a very interesting meeting and I learnt a lot. The issue of terrorism is very important to everyone in this country, but especially to Muslims and I think Mr. Blair is trying to deal with it."

Emily Smith of the Safer Bristol Partnership in Hartcliffe and Withywood said: "Many of the things we want in the area, such as community justice panels, appear to be in the pipeline."

Anil Nagar is the spokesman for the Eastville Residents Action Group, which has campaigned strongly against the problem of street prostitutes in Fishponds Road. He said: "I think the Prime Minister was very forward and positive... I am very hopeful that he will do what he says he will."

Source: Bristol Evening Post

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