Friday, January 26, 2007

The Consequences of Talking Tough


I don't think it is too much of an exaggeration to say that our prison and courts system is close to breaking point. Yesterday a judge freed a paedophile because the Home Secretary has told him to. This man had faced a five year jail term for downloading 200 kiddie porn images. He's now out in the community. To be fair to the man, even he admitted he deserved to be in jail. Today comes news that a dangerous paedophile who is facing a custodial sentence for serious sex offences against a teenager has been released on bail by a judge who said last week he would have been in prison.

The first duty of a government - any government - is to protect its citizens against people who wish to harm them, whether from abroad at home. This government is demonstrating every day that it is, as someone once said, not fit for purpose. John Reid can't blame this one on his hapless predecessors. He knew what the problem was when he took over and did absolutely nothing about it. He talked tough, so the courts took him at his word. The consequence was the highest prison population ever, without the buildings to house the prisoners. If this came as a surprise to Reid he quite clearly, as The Sun, alleges, without a brain.

Today we saw the resignation of the Youth Justice Board. Tomorrow we ought to have the resignation of the Director General of the Prison Service. I'll leave it to you to judge when Dr Reid should walk the plank too.

23 comments:

Ed (a different Ed) said...

Although it would give me great pleasure to see another Labour ministerial resignation, I doubt John Reid will be off any time soon.

After all, we all know all 'resignations' are actually ministers getting fired - by the PM (or his office, at least). Think the first episode of The Thick Of It.

But how likely is Blair to get rid of Reid? He needs all the friends he can get right now, and any electoral fallout from keeping Reid in office will be long after he's hit the US lecture circuit.

Unless, of course, Brown gets involved. Then he's history.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I think a 'sex offender' can rightly be termed a 'paedophile' - I am not sure where you stand legally on using this term for someone who has viewed pornography on the internet.

I know the BBC is using that term - but that doesn't necessarily make it accurate.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Part of this problem could be alleviated by implementing appropriate punishment and rehabilitation for those who find themselves in breach of the law.

As it is at the moment, I believe that there is an inconsistency in the equivocation made between various sentences and the offences that have been committed. A consistent and transparent approach to sentencing guidelines has yet to come into place.

The other aspect of this is looking at what sentencing options are available for offences.

I don't believe that it is appropriate for those guilty of drug use (and some dealing) crimes, some white collar crimes, a number of motoring crimes and some finance and fraud crimes to be imprisoned when there are clearly more efficient, affordable and workable options available.

This would be the case where offenders do not pose a threat to the public and where it would, on balance, be against the long-term interests of society to imprison someone.

Such reform would ensure that the prison capacity is managed sustainably for the imprisonment of those who DO need to be kept out of normal society and not released inappropriately early or avoiding a suitable prison sentence.

It's very easy for some of the more authoritarian and hard-line people to disagree with that approach- often tagged with "let's just build more prisons and throw away the key"- but being pragmatic, prison-building programmes cost a lot of money- our money- which the Government doesn't have. Obviously this would take the form of a PFI programme, which we would all be paying for for the rest of our lives. The economic and social costs of inappropriate sentences are something else completely... You can't have more prisons and less spending with the way our government is run.

Anonymous said...

We may have the second largest prison population in Europe but we also have the highest number of offences committed.

When you compare numbers imprisoned to numbers of offences committed then we are the second most LENIENT country for sentencing in Europe.

Don't believe the propaganda from the liberal/left. The truth is that Britain today after 10 years of Blair and Brown is a criminals free-for-all and a chavs paradise.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Hmm.. I think a 'sex offender' can rightly be termed a 'paedophile' - I am not sure where you stand legally on using this term for someone who has viewed pornography on the internet....

Why else would someone pay to view child pornography if they're not a paedophile?

Unless you're naive enough to believe Pete Townshend's claim that he was simply "researching"

bt said...

Reid is yet another failed ploy on Toni's part.
The most probable scenario (from Blairs point of view) was for Reid to step in, soundbites, headlines, fiddle the statistics a bit, give him a bit of a profile as a safe pair of hands, stands as credible candidate against El Gordo, spoils the coronation.
Not exactly worked out as planned, has it?

Major problem now - who is enough of a Blairite heavyweight to replace Reid? Erm... answer came there none.

Blair will want Reid to take the flak and stick it out, 'cos if he doesn't my bet would be that Blair would have to go within weeks if not sooner.

Anonymous said...

When I joined my first ship in the RN, I lived in a metal box of a mess which was approximately 12 foot by 30 foot. It was above a ballast tank full of seawater and there were no carpets. Also in this space I had a table, a fridge and a TV. My mattress was six foot by 18 inches by 4 inches thick. I would spend months sailing about Norway with no heating for my metal box as the steam heating caused the crew to come down with all sorts of infections.
Did I forget to mention that I shared my metal box with 20 other men?

Buy more beds and jam them in!

Anonymous said...

Your exaggeration was not on your opening line, but on the next line. The judge did not free a paedophile because the Home Secretary told him to. The Home Secretary does not have this power. And the judge is aware of this. The judge passed his sentence in accordance with the sentencing guidelines. As unsavoury as downloading child pornography is, it is not as serious as actually molesting a child. Therefore, there was not as great a risk to the public and it was arguable that a custodial need not be passed. Peter Townsend escaped a custodial sentence for the same offence and this occured before the letter was sent by John Reid, Lord Goldsmith and Lord Falconer to magistrates and judges.

Also, you are wrong to state that this man faced a five years sentence. When the truth is he faced a sentence up to five years. It is more likely that he would have received a sentence between six months and two years.

Rod Morgan of the Youth Justice Board jumped before he was pushed. His 3 year contract was due to terminate and the job was being advertised as there was no intention to renew his contract.

I don't see your logic of expecting the Director General of the Prison Service to tender his resignation. He is only putting into practice the government policies.

John Reid can walk the plank anytime, and deserves to. However, David Davis and Nick Clegg are toothless sharks circling and any attempt from them to bite John Reid is more like receiving a wet kiss!

Iain Dale said...

Jailhouselawyer says: "It is more likely that he would have received a sentence between six months and two years."

Oh well that's alright then. He's still free now as a direct result of John Reid's incompetence. My point stands.

Gammarama said...

"Yesterday a judge freed a paedophile because the Home Secretary has told him to."

"Yesterday a judge freed a paedophile because the Home Secretary has told him to."

As Jailhouselawyer has said, not really the case. Yes, mistakes have obviously been made, but what you're saying is a complete exaggeration. The Judge in the case in question has politicised himself, ultimately it is the judges responsibility to set the appropriate punishment... he has decided not to jail him, and, as the judge probably wanted, it has become a big issue. Rightly so, it probably should be an issue, but it doesn’t mean that the judge should act in the way he has done. As for your comments saying John Reid him to set the paedophile free, that’s nonsense, and you know it.

Anonymous said...

At least we agree that John Reid is incompetent, and that he should go. But the problems will not go with him and will remain. As grammarama points out, the judge was saying cop some of this for your political interference. It was not that long ago that Reid attacked a judge for being too lenient. And now he is asking them to go easy.

I would prefer that David Davis thought about the problems and how they might be solved rather than issuing unthinking off the cuff remarks. Some of these problems faced by the Home Office have been there since Michael Howard was Home Secretary. If David Davis is just going to be more of the same we may as well give up any hope.

tom_r said...

I would love to blame Reid for all of this, but he clearly just jumped on the wrong train thanks to his political ambitions and desperate need to get exposure in order to challenge for the Labour leadership.

I can't help feeling that when the Home Office employs 80,000 people, one of them should have seen this whole situation coming? I don't remember seeing many newspaper headlines about future prison crises over the past few years - was Blair just keeping it under wraps until he could dump Gordon Brown in it?

Anonymous said...

"paedophilia" - the condition of being sexually attracted to children.

So come April, when it will be illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation...

Jess The Dog said...

The upside to this ongoing series of Home Office scandals is that they will shatter Reid's reputation. Reid is a very sinister character and the most dangerous Home Secretary we have ever had - he would be unthinkable as PM.

Incidentally, the main difference between someone who sexually abuses children and someone who downloads child pornography is that, in the latter case, they are paying someone else to do it. In both cases, prison sentences are needed as a deterrent.

Anonymous said...

Iain, neither is it correct for you to say that that chap would have been in prison for two years - the sentence would have been for six months, but it was suspended [for two years, I think]

I think it is important you get your facts right here, rather than resort to 'Sun' style 'paedo' ranting.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Just watched John Reid on Channel Four news. Usual thoroughly dishonest trick of categorising criminals as "dangerous and persistent" (lock them up) OR "minor offenders" (let them out).

But "minor offenders" are NOT sent to prison, and have not been, for many years now, except, possibly, retired clergymen who refuse to pay part of their council tax and single mums who can't afford a TV licence. (Together these represent about 0.0001% of the prison population.)

The rest are inside because they deserve it, and because the public deserves to be protected from them.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

By the way, what's this silly preview box which keeps coming up when I try to click on "Post a Comment"? Serves no useful purpose, and slows the software down.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that reid should walk the plank. too hityy-missy.
Which brings me to a much better use for the plank with Reid 'the plank'. Hitty but don't missy! Hitty bloody hard again and again. But don't worry about the downside. Even if you get caught and convicted, there's no room in the prisons!

Anonymous said...

trumpeter lanfried: I almost felt sorry for John Reid being grilled on Ch4. Gone was this ranting and raving when he verbally attacked a judge. But I don't feel that he was being sincere. I think we should step up the war on this terror!

John Miller said...

It is totally wrong of the media to bandy around the term paedophile as representing anyone who has any sexual connection with someone under the age of 16. I have spoken at great length with an officer of the Met whose job for two years was to investigate these people. Thankfully, it is a rare condition, and it is a mental illness. Someone who looks at images of children on the internet may have a condition ranging from voyeurism to paedophlilia, but they are somewhere on that spectrum, not at the worst extreme.

I remember seeing an analysis of Google search questions. the top 19 were sexual in context and number 20 was Microsoft! If you jail everyone for looking at illegal images (and that includes a lot of "ordinary" porn) then you would fill the prisons 100 times over. Let's have a reasoned argument and not perpetuate tabloid hysteria. The very worst hypocrisy has been the born again christian's prayers before board meetings at News International before Murdoch sanctions the tits shown in his newspapers. how can that be a role model for any sort of public policy?

bebopper said...

JESS THE DOG has a good point. I paraphrase: "A person who downloads child porn is paying someone who made it and deserves prison."
I still feel uncomfortable that someone who looks at images is bracketed with someone who actually does the deed.
If I develop a taste for snuff movies, am I to be treated as a murderer?
Thought crimes belong to New Labour. We should steer clear of them.

garypowell said...

The fact that this man IS a paedophile is perfectly clear. What the hell would anyone want to see porno pictures of children unless they were a paedophile. I have never wanted too for any reason at all.

However we do not convict people YET for wanting to be a criminal or a rapist or for watching the Old Bill or violent movies to often. Not even "yet" for supporting the "WRONG" political organisation.

Although it would be to much to expect any of us red blooded "normal" hetros to start a campaign to preserve the rights of paedos unless they interfear with the rights and liberties of others. Just remember some of you, it might be YOU NEXT.

BTW

In answer to the question.

Now and ASAP.

Can I be in charge of tieing the weights to his feet? Or can I get arrested for thinking that sort of thing now?

As as far as I know, just being a paedophile is not against the law, just looking at child pornography.

So

Can anyone tell me how they knew there were so many pornographic images of children unless someone saw them and counted them. If someone did so, why have they not also been arrested?

A silly unworkable and cruel law drafted by educationaly subnormal populist authoritarian socialists for an increasingly reationary and stupid iliberal public. Which truely deserves its ilogical, and irrational fascist government.

What is worse it wont help one single sexualy abused child anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Also, afaik, there is no evidence that these were images of real people rather than something generated on a computer. This is an example of another nulab thought crime.