March 27th, 2008

Soft on Gun Crime

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

A chief constable calls for the ‘stiffer’ sentences available for those convicted of possession of firearms to be implemented fully. 

The government introduced a minimum 5-year sentence for possession of a firearm in 2004. This means that anyone convicted of having an illegal gun should go to prison for a minimum of five years. Of course, as everyone knows what this actually means is a minimum of 2 1/2 years since people only serve half their sentence. (isn’t it about time we got rid of this notion of serving half the sentence & either give them half the time & make them serve it all, or stick to the full sentence, at least that way people would know what the penalty was?)

The government have confirmed that most criminals don’t get the bare minimum sentence. In fact in 2005 the average sentence for this offence was 47 months & only 40 per cent of offenders were given the statutory minimum of five years.

You can argue ’til the cows come home whether a particular sentence is a deterrent or not but the fact remains that there is absolutely no point at all in announcing a minimum sentence & then sitting back on your arse & letting judges hand out whatever sentence they they can drag out of the tealeaves in the bottom of their daily beverages, which is what the government does. Actually, I’ve just realised what the point of a minimum sentence is. It’s so the government can announce it’s tough on crime, get lots of headlines and more soujourns back to Whitehall for tea & medals.

Gun crime continues to rise. There are many facets to fighting it, sentencing is just one. There are plenty of people within the criminal justice system who think that 5 years is nowhere near enough of a deterrent to carrying a gun.

A spokesman for the Home Office said that although the minimum sentence was not being used as per the guidelines, the average sentence for this offence had ‘risen sharply’. Well that’s alright then.

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