Over the last 50 years or so we have become victims of an experiment by liberal policy makers, exacerbated more lately by our attachment to Europe and the Human Rights Act. These naive policies, which have supposedly given individuals more freedoms, have in fact resulted in the majority having their freedoms eroded. In the case of crime, the decent law abiding majority are now fearful of leaving their homes and worried about becoming a victim every time they step out of their door.
Most sensible people understand the underlying issues we have in society but we seem to be completely impotent when it comes to addressing them. Until the 1960's behaviour in society was heavily influenced by peer pressure. It wasn't Utopia by any means, but somewhere the baby has got thrown out with the bathwater. The rights of the individual has now gone beyond all sensible boundaries and the impact on others is apparently of little consequence.
One factor affecting crime has been the breakdown of the family unit. Single parenthood and both working parents has meant less direction and control at home for young people. There are some very good single parents but we all know that many struggle to cope and their offspring are more likely to underachieve and fall into crime. We are not allowed to say this however. We have been brainwashed by the politically correct brigade that single parenthood is a personal choice and we should not criticise others choices no matter what it costs us.
All authority has been undermined by liberal policies. We are told how we should, or often shouldn't, discipline our children. Children need discipline and guidance but we have an ever growing number of feckless parents unwilling or incapable of bringing them up to behave decently. They breed away secure in the knowledge that the working taxpayer will pick up all the bills and society will be left to try and sort out the mess. Schools, children's homes, Youth Offending Team etc., have all been indoctrinated that children must be treated as adults. Treat them with respect and they will respect you. The reality of this has been that authorities are held in complete contempt by unruly and criminal young people. They behave as they like, safe in the knowledge that there will be no effective consequences for their behaviour.
This criminal justice system is now infested with these liberal policies. Successive Governments have allowed this to happen on the advice of civil servants and so called experts, academics with no real understanding of, or grass root experience of law and order. For decades now successive Governments have been easily persuaded to adopt these policies on the false premise that it costs less to do so. The policies have allowed an ever growing pool of persistent offenders to commit offences with impunity. Treating children as adults has just meant that many of them have never grown up and they become children in adults bodies with no idea of how to behave or of responsibility to society in general.
In 1986 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) came into being. Until then, the police prosecuted for the Crown. The CPS was sold to the public on the basis that independence was needed in the process and a more professional service. The reality is that the CPS have targets to reduce the number of cases coming to Court. Cases are dropped or plea bargained to ensure that justice is is rarely done. Prosecutions are avoided wherever possible to save money, meaning even fewer offenders face any sort of justice.
You cannot become a Magistrate now unless you pass the liberal policy test that means victims are of no concern and your role in the criminal justice system is understanding the offender is the 'victim' and consequences and deterrent have no place when considering sentencing. Judges have likewise been brought under control by ensuring that only those who toe the line are appointed or progress. Both have their hands tied by the sentencing guidelines designed solely to save money by ensuring that no one goes to prison until they are so far down the road of criminality that there is no chance of reforming them anytime soon. When persistent offenders do get their first six week prison sentence it is of no effect whatsoever.
Unless it is a very serious offence, by which I mean murder, rape or manslaughter, young offenders will usually receive a reprimand for a first offence and then a final warning for a second. On reaching adulthood they are eligible for a caution before finally being charged and put before a court. The average offender has six court appearances before they receive a custodial sentence. So the average offender is caught and processed by the police nine times before a custodial sentence is imposed. The police only detect around 6% of all crime (not recorded crime.) This means that the average offender will have committed up to 150 crimes before a custodial sentence is given. A first sentence will usually be just a few weeks. No time for any rehabilitation. Too little too late.
The public are frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the justice system in protecting them but don't focus their anger on Government, partly because they don't understand how appalling the justice system has become, but also because they have been brainwashed that prison doesn't work. They have been told that community penalties are more effective when clearly they are not. Re-offending rates for community penalties are higher than prison. Most importantly though, persistent offenders cannot commit crimes, and increase their tally of victims, when locked away . Taking account of the fact that only 6% of crime is detected the actual re offending rates for persistent offenders are almost 100% whether they are sentenced to prison or community penalty. Prison only fails if we don't lock people up soon enough or for long enough to protect the decent law abiding majority.
50 years ago crime levels were 10% of what they are now. It wasn't perfect but it was a far safer country than it is now. You could leave your house safe in the knowledge that when you returned to it there was little chance that it might have been burgled. That is now ten times times more likely. You could walk down the street knowing that the chance of being robbed was almost non existent. Now you are 20 times more likely to be a victim of a street robbery. We are one of the pariahs of Europe. Crime in the UK is double the European average. America and South Africa are portrayed in the press as violent countries. The reality is that you are far more likely to be a victim of violent crime here than in those countries.
Governments and the justice system have completely failed to protect the public from persistent offenders. By ensuring that these criminals almost never face any meaningful consequences it is actually rewarding their behaviour. Worse still, we have all been brainwashed that it is not the offenders fault. They are the victims of their upbringing and society in general. The message is that their offending is our fault and so the public should suffer the guilt and consequences of their behaviour. Offenders see that crime does pay very well, so the number of offenders is increasing and the cost of tackling it is now prohibitive. We have been abandoned to the persistent offenders. Successive Governments have given up protecting us. We are told to protect ourselves. We should invest in alarm systems, better locks, CCTV. We shouldn't walk down dark streets at night or use our mobile phones in public. We should hide our valuables from sight. If we don't, then when we become a victim of crime it is our fault for being so stupid when we know persistent offenders are hovering like vultures waiting for their next prey. Taking these preventative measures simply ensures that someone else will become the next victim instead of you. Next time it might be you instead of someone else. We are also told that our fear of crime is imaginary, that crime is nowhere near as bad as we think. Government, Local Authorities and the police have invested enormous resources trying to convince us that our fear of what we see and feel every day is imaginary. This is inexcusable tosh.
In general, the police have kept plugging away, arresting offenders and doing all they can to get them into the system and hopefully, one day, some sort of effective penalty. There are signs now that police morale is failing as a result of the persistent failure of the rest of the justice system. This should be of major concern as the police are the only part of the system currently of any effect. They are the only reason our current prison capacity is full despite the best efforts of Government and every other part of the system to keep them empty.
Decent law abiding members of the public are rightly fed up with our justice system. They see motorists being given hefty fines and points on their licence which has significant consequences for them, while thieves, robbers and burglars walk away laughing with no consequences at all. Persistent offenders treat the police, like the rest of the justice system, with contempt. Decent members of the public are losing confidence in the police, as we are the public facing part of the failing system, whom they hold accountable. Some commentators suggest that more police officers are needed to tackle the current crime epidemic. I disagree. If the justice system properly incarcerated the persistent offenders that the police do catch and ensured there was some effective rehabilitation, crime could be cut by over 50%. This would then allow the police to focus on the remaining persistent offenders and allow the public to start enjoying a life without a genuine fear of crime.
We need to totally overhaul our justice system. For persistent offenders it is a laughing stock and rather than providing any consequence or deterrent it encourages them. Cautions, fines and community penalties have their place but once these have been tried and failed then persistent offenders need to be incarcerated to provide an effective punishment, rehabilitation and, most importantly, justice for victims and protection for the public at large. Persistent offenders need to understand that continuing to re offend will mean more of the same for a longer and longer period. CPS targets should focus on convicting the guilty. The sentencing guidelines and the liberal sentencing policies need consigning to the bin.
The riots last August were a wake up call. A warning of what is coming if we do not change the current failing system. The growing numbers of persistent offenders are becoming bolder in the current climate. Thankfully, the police have put a lot of resources into catching those responsible for the riots. For once, the Government, frightened by what they saw, demanded that the ludicrous sentencing guidelines be overridden. Many rioters have received their just desserts, to the consternation of the hand wringing liberals. This may give us some breathing space, but rioters aside, it is normal ineffective business in the justice system and so we can expect more serious disturbances on our streets.
We should use the recession as an opportunity to invest in prison building. Prisons should be reformed so that there are military style punishment elements moving on to education and learning prior to release. Sentences should be served fully and early release only considered for those that work hard, achieve and show genuine reform. All foreign criminals should serve a minimum punishment term and then be deported with no opportunity to return.
I understand that much of what I have said is heresy to some, including many brainwashed, ambitious, senior police officers. I honestly believe that unless we make changes our society will continue to decline on its present course. I for one am fed up with trying to defend the disgraceful justice system and conning the public that crime is lower than it really is.