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October 1, 2008

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Cameron blames health and safety culture for ‘broken society’

David Cameron yesterday claimed a “health and safety, Human Rights-Act culture” had emerged under Labour and was responsible for “treating people like children”.

Addressing Conservative Party members at their annual conference in Birmingham, he contested arguments that a larger state was needed during tough economic times, and suggested that the growth of government under Labour had caused societal breakdown by showing a “total lack of trust in people’s common sense and decency”.

He aligned this attitude with the culture of health and safety and the Human Rights Act, and claimed it had infected every part of people’s lives.

Said Cameron: “If you’re a police officer you now cannot pursue an armed criminal without first filling out a risk-assessment form. Teachers can’t put a plaster on a child’s grazed knee without first calling a first-aid officer. Even foreign exchanges for students — you can’t host a school exchange any more without parents going through an enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check.”

His speech followed Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve’s comments earlier in the week, when he blamed health and safety legislation for “holding police officers back, making them more risk-averse”. Grieve said a Conservative government would amend section 2 of the HSWA so that protecting the public from risk takes priority over the risk to police officers.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) declined to comment on the Tories’ plans, saying that it was not appropriate for it to comment on party political conferences.

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