Thursday 22 April 2010

UK - A Dumping Ground for Foreign Criminals?

Lord Justice Moses one of the judges who allowed 2 Tamils to remain in UK as they threatened to kill themselves if deported
'The decision defies all common sense' Immigration Minister Phil Woolas. Tough words but you have been in power 13 years. Let's have some action!

Is it me or am I reading more and more stories about illegal immigrants committing serious crimes in our country? Some are undoubtedly thrown out but many others are allowed to stay here. Our judicial system seems to be the only one in the world that takes any notice of the Human Rights Act and it appears that some seriously dangerous offenders are being allowed to stay here in case we breach their rights or they might suffer further punishment if they are returned from whence they came.

I don't think this was being considered by the authors of the legislation, or this. And this man should have have some of his body parts removed for his crimes. If you come from a culture where committing offences carries severe penalties why should you be allowed to come here and commit those offences and not be returned home to face the consequences? And if you want to kill yourself because you have been sent home is that our concern? We won't deport any illegal immigrants if they all try that little wheeze.

This country is going mad.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Town Centre Violence

I have just spent the weekend supporting the regular response officers. Every weekend officers from departments all over the county work a Friday and Saturday night to help deal with the additional calls that largely come about because of excessive drinking. It is fair to say that some of my colleagues don't like this and try to avoid it. Personally, I feel we all need to do our bit and help out.

I worked shifts in a town centre for many years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a constant battle between the licensed premises and the police. We had our irresponsible pubs who allowed underage drinkers and drunkenness and they got visited every Friday and Saturday. I made it clear to the licensees that if they were not prepared to act responsibly I would control their premises and they would be prosecuted if they didn't start acting responsibly. I saw a number of licensees off as they didn't listen to the advice.

Most licensees are managers or tenants and are under pressure to meet targets. I can see why it is tempting to sell to kids, drunks etc. I supported extended opening hours and I hoped that this might mean we adopted a more Continental approach to drinking. Outside our town centres, this has happened to a large extent. Successful pubs have turned to selling food to survive. Those that don't make this transition are closing in their droves as the recession, smoking ban and drinking (at home) habits change.

This weekend I patrolled the town centre and visited a number of our large modern pubs. I was sad to see that here the mentality still seems to be, pack as many people in as you can, sell as much drink as you can and let the police pick up the pieces. If you visit these large town centre pubs during the week you will see tables and chairs laid out, but on Fridays and Saturdays the pubs clear away all the tables and chairs and play loud music. You end up with hundreds of drinkers stood around. They cannot have a conversation because the music is too loud and so they just drink. There are nowhere near enough staff working to monitor who is drunk and shouldn't have any more.

The results of all this are that I saw people throwing up in the street, there were four fights in pubs, five fights over taxi's and dozens of drunken idiots wandering around shouting and swearing. We also found one young woman semi conscious in a car park because she was so drunk and who required to go to hospital. Young woman in this state are so vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. There were 18 arrests on Friday and 13 on Saturday linked to drunken behaviour.

I am generally against introducing more and more legislation to control behaviour. We have seen too much of this over the last 20 years. It occurs to me though that where town centre drunkenness is problematic an area could be declared as such and all licensees required to serve alcohol only to people sat at tables. This might get us back to the situation we want to be in. People sat in pubs having conversation rather than standing around drinking and listening to deafening music. Drinks would be more expensive as less would be sold, but profit margins maintained.

Friday 2 April 2010

More of the Same

This is Mark Johnson reformed offender and drug user. He clearly still needs a lot of help.

I have written quite a bit recently about sentencing, consequences and boundaries. This article in the Guardian caught my eye and I thought I cannot let it go without making some comment.

I am sure some of you will be thinking what the hell does he expect from the Guardian. This article is just so woolly and full of inaccuracies I couldn't ignore it.

'However much we sympathise, the fury of those who have been affected by crime should not find its way into government policy.' Says Mark Johnson reformed offender and drug user.

'Switch on the TV or open a newspaper and you will be confronted by a victim of crime.'

Not on my telly or in my papers you won't. Occasionally victims of child killings gain a lot of coverage such as the parents of Sarah Payne and Jamie Bulger. Generally, victims of crime have no voice and no influence at all with regard to the sentencing of offenders.

'Everyone can empathise with their pain, and we expect them to make angry, ill-considered demands for retribution. But their fury should not dominate the news agenda – or, worse, find its way into government policy.'

You cannot empathise with a parent whose child has been murdered. You might sympathise but you clearly cannot empathise. Angry victims do sometimes make demands for retribution but I cannot think of one example where a victims demands have resulted in draconian sentences. Public outrage may have influenced sentencing in some high profile cases but not the demands of victims.

'But when children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson recently suggested that 10-year-olds who commit crimes should not be treated as adults, and that they need a more therapeutic approach than pure containment, the justice ministry was tight-lipped and the public apparently apoplectic.
Atkinson is a professional who is paid to analyse what is happening to our children. We should listen to her and the other experts whose views are based on science, not raw emotion. She has seen that our penal system is designed to protect the public and has no real investment in changing people. So when victim support groups get incandescent at the cost of keeping young offenders in secure units, I agree with them. Some £200,000 a year is too much to spend if public protection is the only outcome and the child receives no intensive rehabilitation.'

I don't recall the public outcry this woman apparently caused. Most people thought you don't know what you are talking about and ignored her. Why should we listen to these supposed experts? Most young people, not all, who commit offences come from backgrounds where they need help. I think we are all agreed on that. What the author and Atkinson don't seem to understand is that as well as help they need boundaries and consequences. Until the so called experts ruining our rehabilitation and justice systems realise this, nothing will change.

'It is a public misconception that prisons are places where offenders go to change. In fact, HM Inspectorate of Prisons has found that more than 70% of young male offenders want to change, but 42% said jail did not provide them with the help or tools to do so.'

There is no misconception that prisons are where offenders go to change. We all know that prisons are places where offenders learn other offending skills and are likely to re-offend on release. I want prisons to be places where offenders are helped and educated or trained and early release depends on achievement. 42% of offenders didn't feel prison helped them. Now there is a shock! Not! I am only surprised it wasn't higher.

'Calm, scientific voices are telling us that when children commit crime they have not made a moral choice. They have gone too far because the mechanism that holds back their healthier peers doesn't work for them for psychological and physiological reasons.'

'Hating and containing them is easy. Both are easy vote-catchers. But these are sick children. Our object should be to care for them so that they can change and get well. Hatred is an expensive waste of public money.'

For God's sake! With this sort of view influencing and changing our justice system there is no hope. So the child that beats another has no problem with their moral code of conduct they are just sick and we should just accept this and help them. I say again, until these people understand that help has to go hand in hand with strict boundaries and consequences we will continue to see more and more violence and offending by young people. Sometimes that help and the boundaries and consequences will have to take place in custody for the protection of the public, not because of hatred and cost.