Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the tag “crime”

Grayling Takes Another Swipe at Justice

Let me start by telling you a little story. Some years ago I was involved in an accident, no one was hurt but I was charged with ‘Driving without due care and attention’.

I went to the Magistrates Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge, maintaining that it was an error of judgement on my part not as charged and was indeed an accident in the true meaning of the word. Having made my opening statement the magistrates paused proceedings and the Chair pointed out to me that if I maintained my not guilty plea then there would have to be another hearing and a witness would have to come from Southampton and should I be found guilty then I would be responsible for his travel expenses, loss of earnings and in all probability an overnight stay.

The hearing was adjourned for a tea break to give me time to think. I changed my plea to guilty as I couldn’t afford to take the risk. Just for interest sake the magistrates said they would fine me the minimum allowed in law with the minimum points on my licence.

Now Grayling, that unqualified disaster of a Justice Minister, has brought in new fees, which come into force on 13 April, are not means-tested and will start at £150 and can rise to £1200 for anyone convicted of any crime. As my example above shows many people will plead guilty to something they have not in fact done rather than risk the extra penalties that may be imposed.

The only advantages will be money for the government and a sharp rise in police conviction rates.

However! JUSTICE WILL BE DENIED & JUSTICE WILL BE PERVERTED.

Knife Crime in UK

Knife Crime! Government and not just this one, are frequently banging on about knife crime, the latest being anyone caught for a second time carrying a knife will be imprisoned for six months, where of course they can learn to use them more effectively.

I have been to a France a few times and there they have shops that specialise in selling knives. The following is from global knife statistics: “France has seen no equivalent of the wave of fatal stabbings in Britain, and newspaper reports on the so-called “culture du poignard” (knife culture) reigning in London and other big cities are read with universal horror.”

It follows then that knives are not the problem so there must be some other underlying cause; would it not therefore be better to research this rather than banging up more people in crime academies?

Prison & Punishment

The Government is scrapping the idea of building 3 new ‘Titan’ prisons with an inmate population of 2500 each and instead building five new prisons of 1500 each with cost running into billions. So far since 1997 prisoner numbers have increased by 24,000 and are expected to reach a total of 96,000 by 2014.

Apart from the USA no other country imprisons a higher percentage of it’s population than the UK.  What a shameful record and what a disgraceful waste of money given that 80% of ex prisoners re-offend. Quite obviously prison does not work, so why spend even more on a failed system? Why not spend the money on crime prevention and rehabilitation of offenders? It’s easy to say we’re going to lock up more people than the opposition party but it takes courage and leadership to say that our aim is to reduce imprisonment.

A start could be made by moving the mentally ill into a caring and supportive environment and drug addicts could be moved to treatment centres and given appropriate support within the community. Better still de-criminalise drugs and just watch the crime rate plummet. Many people are in prison for non payment of court fines or could not obey an order to pay for their TV licence for example, surely a better way would be a community service order and help on how to survive on meagre state benefits. Even better would be an increase in those benefits and perhaps a ‘benefit standing order to pay for the licence weekly.

Prison only serves as a university in crime and upon release it can be of no surprise that the ‘graduates’ put their new found skills to practicle use.

Knife Crime in UK

Freethinkeruk has just returned from a long weekend in Brittany France. Whilst browsing around the shops for a while, as you do, I came across a sport shop where, amazingly, almost an entire window display was taken over by knives. There were pen knives, lock knives, hunting knives, scuba diving knives, all obviously extremely well made and at reasonable prices.

Here in the UK there are laws banning the sale of certain knives and calls for a total ban are even being made along with, even weirder calls for all knives to be manufactured without a point; so hard luck if you’re a fisherman or a chef or many other legitimate users of a knife. Despite all this and various campaigns death and injuries caused by the use of a knife have increased but not as much as could be believed from the tabloid press. There is however not a dramatic increase in France where, as I said, knives can still be legally purchased over the counter.

When freethinkeruk was a young teenager (many, many years ago) nearly every boy had a knife which was most likely to be of the ‘flick knife’ design. Possession gave a mild feeling of bravado, an enjoyment in the quality, skill and design of it’s manufacture as well as being useful for carving bits of wood. It was never (or hardly ever) considered for attack or even defence when threatened and when past the age of around 16 was discarded or sold on to a younger lad.  What has changed is not knife possession but the willingness to use one in the UK. So what has changed in the last half centuary? It is true that there is far more more graphic and explicit violence on television and in films, video games almost invariably involve killing someone or something and war and our military is often glorified in the news items. I’m sure that in combination all these influences must lead to a somewhat deadening of our morals and sensibilities but not turn us into killers. During this period of time though, there has been a huge widening of the divide between those who have a lot and those who by comparison, have little. State control and surveillance has never been greater and opportunities for social mobility have been decreasing to the point where it is all but impossible for those in inner city estates and similar situations to achieve their potential. The frustration and indeed inner rage resulting from this oppression will inevitably vent off in vandalism, graffiti or violence.

More restrictions will do nothing, what is required is social change on a huge scale which this government will not give and neither will any potential replacement. The only hope is for enough of us to think for ourselves to demand change. It is possible and hopefully this blog will in it’s very, very, small way will help along with other voices in the wilderness.

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