30/09/2013 15:08 BST | Updated 30/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Britain's Innocent Victims Deserve Better Than an Out-of-touch Secretary of State for Justice

Chris Grayling's speech on Monday at Conservative Party conference reads as if the last 40 months didn't even happen. All his talk of tougher sentencing for knife crime and clamping down on use of cautions shamelessly ignores his out of touch Government's record since the last election and their disgraceful lack of support for innocent victims of crime.

No doubt it's more about political grandstanding, pandering to the Tory party leadership's fears of their voters, members and donors haemorrhaging to Ukip. And it's also part of Chris Grayling's burning desire to be Home Secretary and right his perceived wrong of being denied the job after the last election.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to lots of rushed announcements, usually pre-briefed to the Daily Mail, but with little focus on delivery. Let's look at the evidence. There is his failing Work Programme, which he led on in his previous job at Work and Pensions. And there is his reckless plan to privatise probation that risks public safety.

And on sentencing, things are little better. At the last election, David Cameron promised anyone caught carrying a knife would be jailed. He even took the exceptional step of courting high profile victims of crime to strengthen the commitment. There's no doubt some voters were attracted by that promise. Yet he broke that promise. Chris Grayling's latest statement will be the second time in this parliament the Tories have tried to legislate on knife crime. They've got some cheek to claim credit for their own broken promise.

And don't forget they did the same on "bash a burglar". Twice parliament has legislated on this since 2010 and on neither occasion did it really make any substantive difference to the law - a law most experts feel works pretty well as it is. It was a cynical stunt by a desperate Government.

Tinkering with the law solely to generate good tabloid headlines does little to stop crimes taking place or to support victims of crime. Instead, it undermines confidence in sentencing and breeds a dangerous cynicism in both our justice system and in politicians.

This isn't helped if the public think that serious and violent criminals are getting away with a slap on the wrist. For months now Labour has been highlighting the growth on this Government's watch of cautions for serious and violent crimes like rape. Yvette Cooper has also exposed the unacceptable 10,000 community resolutions given out by the police for violent crimes, sex crimes and domestic violence.

While cautions have their place, using them for certain violent and sexual crimes is wrong, and it is right that the Government are heeding Labour's calls to stop this. A mere slap on the wrist for rape is a slap in the face for victims.

But Monday's announcements will do little to address the scandal of offenders receiving multiple cautions. The system is clearly failing if some criminals are getting ten, twenty - or maybe even more - cautions. And it's also disappointing that, despite saying over the summer they'd do so, no mechanism is being announced for allowing victims to appeal against a caution being handed out. These are two areas where Labour will act.

It seems obvious that salami slicing from police budgets is resulting in a growth of cheap justice. And cheap justice isn't any form of justice that instils confidence in our police, courts and prosecution services. We can't afford to lose the confidence of the British public, and especially not of victims and witnesses.

In my speech to last week's Labour conference I confirmed our intention to introduce a victims' law. Victims of crime will know what to expect from the criminal justice system when they come into contact with it. But also all those who work in our courts, prisons, probation and the police will know what is expected of them. Clear rights, written in plain English, offering protection for innocent victims of crime.

Chris Grayling, in his race to be the most reactionary in the Cabinet, trumpets the abolition of the Human Rights Act and our withdrawal from Strasbourg. But by doing so the Tories would expose victims of crime, leaving them without the protection they need. Without these laws, rape victims would still be subjected to the abhorrence of cross examination by their attackers and families wouldn't get to the bottom of the deaths of their loved ones. That's why Labour is determined to protect our human rights laws, as we know they offer protection to victims and witnesses of crime

Innocent victims of crime deserve better than an out of touch Justice Secretary and a Government neglecting victims.