Partnerships – that must have been one of the most overused phrases in recent years. It epitomises New Labour's philosophy. But what happened to partnership of the police and the business community?
In one week we have seen the launch of proposed new laws designed to hound and punish company executives for a range of corporate killing charges when, under existing legislation, there could be no hope of a conviction.
While the thugs who murder in the street will be able to rely on a fair and equitable burden of proof before they are convicted, the company director will face a kangaroo court before being heavily fined or even sent to prison, perhaps for a genuine accident within his company.
On the other hand, we now see police forces refusing to come to the aid of businesses being ransacked by villains and burglars. It's a robber's charter, a highwayman's dream. The message to toe-rags in the Midlands is: break into a factory in Britain's heartland and you will have a free rein.
And who will pay as a result of these changes? Insurers, of course. Bosses criminalised under the new rules will be defended by insurers, while factories ransacked by the Midlands Mafia will expect their insurers to pay out for the losses.
What are insurers to do? They have every right to withdraw cover – if the police refuse to defend private property, can anyone seriously expect insurers to insure it?
This is too important to be left to individual insurers to decide a strategy. This is not just a Midlands issue. This is a national outrage that must be tackled at the highest level. The police must not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities in this way.
Tony Blair said he would be tough on crime and on the causes of crime. If he wants the support of the insurance industry and a genuine partnership, he must be tough on the fighters of crime too.