Britain is in danger of "sleepwalking into anarchy" unless tougher action is taken to halt rising crime, the Tories have been warned.
Norman Brennan, a serving police officer and director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said the police had "lost control" of some towns and cities.
In a debate on crime at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth, he said some crime was increasing and that teenagers were shooting each other.
Society no longer had the respect and moral fibre that was present when he joined the police in the 1980s.
He said the police were now "tied up in so much bureaucracy, political correctness and red tape" that it was impossible to do their job.
Mr Brennan said the public were frightened when they did not see police on the beat. And he attacked the Labour Government, ridiculing initiatives such as child curfews, on anti-social behaviour, and onthe-spot fines.
He said the Government was "soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime."
He added: "It should be this Government and this Government's policies on law and order that should be in the dock along with the criminals.
"We have got to wake up from this sleepwalk, we cannot sleepwalk into anarchy.
"I urge the Government to take urgent and immediate action before it's too late."
William Mason, a special constable from Chichester, praised the police and said 95 per cent of them were "very good." But the police service had to do more to get rid of a small minority who were not up to the job.
He also called on police officers who were good at catching criminals to be promoted more easily. "Sadly, however, a few senior officers appear to have got there through box-ticking, through doing political correct courses," he said.
He added: "I would like to see us introduce a system...which sees police officers get promoted for being good at catching criminals."
Earlier, the founder and director of London charity Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh, gave an impassioned plea to party members not to demonise all children involved in crime.
"The general public have no sense of the scale of the problem in the inner city. Children are getting killed, children are sleeping with knives under their pillows, because they don't feel safe.
"Children are starving, they are having to cope with parents who are crack addicts and heroin addicts," she said.