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.