Cameron seeks "revolution in responsibility"

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David Cameron is calling for a "revolution in responsibility" where individuals, businesses and the media take responsibility for tackling the problems faced in today's Britain, rather than allowing the government to have overall control.

The Conservative leader says he is concerned about "how badly we all behave towards each other in public" today.

Ahead of a speech to the Royal Society of Arts later today, Mr Cameron highlighted the attacks on shopkeepers and health workers as evidence that "behaviour in public is getting worse".

He admits that the government alone cannot tackle the apparent problem but accused Labour of taking responsibility away from the public over the last ten years and therefore helping to create an irresponsible society.

"The police officer feels 'I can't be responsible and stop someone in the street because I have to fill in a form'; the head teacher thinks 'I can't be responsible and sort out my school because if I exclude someone I might be overruled'," the Tory leader told the Today programme.

"They've taken away responsibility, we need to give it back to people and build a responsible society."

And he suggested there were "two ways" to respond to this increase in bad behaviour.

"Take an example I have of two ladies on a train the other day who said to me, 'I can't use the bus any more because the children are so rude to me'. What are the two answers to this?

"One is to put every child on an Asbo (antisocial behaviour order) and a police officer on every bus and a parenting order for every parent. An alternative is to say, stand back a second, let's try and recreate the responsible society where children are brought up properly and behave properly.

"And what we need in our politics is more of that long-term thinking and less of the short-term kneejerk reaction."

He added: "Taking the big picture on this, we've had ten years where we've been rolling forward the frontiers of the state and as a result we've taken a lot of responsibility away from parents and teachers and police officers as I've been arguing."

Mr Cameron pledged that the Conservatives would "make police officers more responsible" and "stop them having to fill in a form every time they stop someone so they can get on the streets and help police you".

He also stressed the need to "try and build up the good institutions of society like families that in the long-term cut crime", warning: "Otherwise we're just going to be treating the symptoms and not the causes."

In response to Mr Cameron's comments, Home Office minister Tony McNulty dismissed the Tory line as lacking substance.

"We get the sort of muzak, rather like the annoying stuff you get when you go up and down in the lift, but no substance," he told the BBC.

The Liberal Democrats express similar views, with home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg saying that "until David Cameron is prepared to put flesh on his soft-soap rhetoric about trusting communities it will be difficult to take him seriously".

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