December 27th, 2008

Send him down

Posted in The Job - General by 200

The Labour party have been banging on about increasing prison places since they came to power but there is little evidence that they’ve actually done anything about it. Well that’s not strictly true, they have done something about it; they’ve created policies for letting criminals out early because of their failure to create enough room for them inside.

This is all very strange when you realise how much easier they have made it to get people locked up. In the last ten years they have created 1,000 brand new offences for which you can receive a jail term. I’ve not got my calculator out but the Telegraph reckons that’s one new jail-able offence every four days.

Many of these crimes have been described as petty which, in other countries, would only be regarded as minor misdemeanours & therefore not with a custodial sentence. These include six months for kids caught with fireworks in public, jail for fishermen who don’t ask permission to fish on the Lower Esk in Scotland, or  a swift bit of porridge for anyone importing an unauthorised veterinary product. The best example given is a jail sentence for vicars who allow unlicensed concerts in the church hall.

I think I’ve mentioned this government’s reliance on legislation before. It just seems that they think the only way to deal with a perceived problem is to legislate, either that or they just need to control every facet of life. Actually, a nano-second’s thought on that and it is both reasons.

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  1. Andy says:

    There may be another reason. I was reading a book the other day (yes, new recruits can read) which was written by an Italian author called Manzoni who was writing in the early 19th century. He complains in the book about the over-abundance of legislation and points out how futile it always is. His position is that a weak government over-legislates – it makes them feel as though they are doing something and it makes some of the populace feel more secure. The majority of the populace have their freedoms restricted and the only people unaffected by it are the real criminals who carry on doing exactly the same as they did before, secure in the knowledge that they are now “hidden” by the mass of useless legislation.
    For some reason, I found that appropriate to the current government

    December 28th, 2008 at 05:35

  2. James says:

    It’s the legacy of circle jerking left wing students with little to no experience of the ‘real’ world.

    December 28th, 2008 at 12:42

  3. john says:

    All the extra legislation has achieved one thing, many previously law-abiding people (those who consider it their “duty” to obey laws because they ARE laws) are now “criminals”.
    the common sense approach, that there is no point in making something illegal if there is no way to enforce it, seems to have been lost.
    We now have police with few powers (cpos’) and fewer police with powers.
    The courts are duty-bound to release criminals, unless they have a history of assaulting magistrates and judges.
    We have unassailable crooks running the financial system (into the ground), largely because they pay their dues to the political system.
    While the unassailable crooks running the country into the ground continue to do so, because the political system is paying its dues to them.
    Politicians = crooks
    Bankers = crooks
    People = crooks.
    The egalitarian approach has triumphed, but at a cost.

    December 28th, 2008 at 13:33

  4. Civ_In_The_City says:

    I don`t have any particular political affinities I`m aware of but still feel that the law should not generally have any part in my life unless I`m breaking it. The fact that so much new legislation has been introduced, and old legislation more vigorous enforced, means I at least feel I`m much more likely to be criminalised while going about my business.

    Politicians talk about the fear of crime not being connected to the reality but the fear of being criminalised is a much bigger problem for them.

    December 28th, 2008 at 21:27

  5. MarkUK says:

    I’ve got to disagree with James; although the nasties in parliament have been over-legislating, it doesn’t go back to 1997 but to about 1980. Whilst the current Pink Tories are more efficient at making new law, the original blue ones are still quite good at it.

    John has got a point; what’s the use of having unenforceable laws? they simply bring the whole system into disrepute and drive a wedge between police and public.

    Many other laws need to be applied with discretion. Is it always in the public interest to proceed with a minor speeding offence at 3.00 am on a Thursday morning in a well-lit empty street? Still, that’s what you get when you have robocop on a pole. Unfortunately, said robocop can’t tell good driving from appalling if it’s within the speed limit.

    The politicos are also in danger of politicising the police (and people like Iain Blair make it easy for them). This started in the miners’ strike and has carried on to the stage where you can be arrested for reading out a list of names within a mile of Parliament.

    December 28th, 2008 at 22:49

  6. Weary says:

    It’s a classic Government tactic to introduce new criminal legislation on the basis that new laws = reduced crimes. The Tories were just as guilty as Labour in this respect. Style over substance again. If you look at it rationally, there is a reason, very occasionally, to legislate to cover all the naughtiness that can be done with new technologies. But really, there is no need for this to happen more than once every few years. But the problem is that our criminal law is such a frickin mess. Without being too big headed, I’m pretty good on the law stuff. I trained as a solicitor. In my previous Government job, I had a hand in drafting legislation. Due to exams and what have you, I keep up with legislation. In my little corner of the Babylon, I’m considered the go to guy for legal stuff. But everyday, I have to pull one of my legal tomes out of my drawer and look stuff up.

    Really, what we need is a unified criminal code with the dead-wood chucked out, the useful criminal laws re-enacted and all in one slim volume for easy access. Like sensible countries have. Of course it’ll never happen because tidying up legislation just isn’t a very sexy in PR terms.

    Oh, and re-introducing discretion. But that’s never going to happen.

    But if I had one Christmas wish (and it’s bit late now) it would be the repeal of the Protection from Harassment Act, possibly the most ridiculous piece of legislation on the statute books. It made perfect sense at the time; we needed a law on stalking, now you have one, thank you very much. But the way it is worded, namely that I do something twice which someone doesn’t like, is so laughably wide that I wonder if Parliament was in a hurry to get down the pub when it passed. So we now have to face having to arrest Bazza every time he sends two text messages to Shazza asking if they can get back together again. I mean it’s a domestic – gotta arrest don’t you.

    January 1st, 2009 at 16:40

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