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Cooper vow to halt 'private police'

Labour's bid to march on to traditional Tory territory will continue on Wednesday when Yvette Cooper vows to defend the founding principles of the police against creeping privatisation.

The shadow home secretary will declare that the Tories have forfeited their claim to be the "party of law and order" and paint Labour as the heirs of ex-Conservative PM and father of modern policing Robert Peel.

Her speech comes a day after Opposition leader Ed Miliband made a bold bid to wrest the "One Nation" mantle of another former Conservative premier Benjamin Disraeli. And she will promise new legislation to ensure those guilty of financial wrongdoing - such as the bankers responsible for the Libor rate-rigging scandal - face criminal prosecution.

Making the day's keynote speech to the party's annual conference in Manchester, she will hit out at the "double standards" of ordinary voters facing court over unpaid TV licences while people who defrauded millions got off "scot free".

A hard-hitting review by financial watchdog chief Martin Wheatley last week put forward reforms that would see unscrupulous bankers face criminal prosecution in a bid to prevent a repeat of the "shocking behaviour" over Libor.

With the banking sector under fire over a series of mis-selling scandals as well, Ms Cooper will pledge to introduce an Economic Crime Act to ensure action and protect small investors.

"People were fiddling figures to get rich, while small businesses paid the price," she will say of the rate-fixing.

"Yet no one has been arrested. The experts say it can't even be treated as a crime offence. The police and the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) don't even seem to know where to start. In the United States they have seen 800 prosecutions for serious fraud since 2011. Here in the UK the SFO pursued just 20.

"If someone doesn't pay their TV licence they'll end up in court. But defraud millions of pensioners or small businesses and you can get off scot free. We need an end to the double standards. We need a new Economic Crime Act. People need to be able to invest with confidence knowing everyone is playing by the same fair rules."

She will also accuse the Government of seeking to privatise "huge swathes" of police operations despite the failure of security firm G4S to provide the Olympic staff it promised - forcing the police and military to step in. "Labour Police and Crime Commissioners will halt this Tory rush to privatisation of our police," she will say, ahead of elections to the new posts next month.

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