Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Surrender On All Fronts

David Blunkett today threw up his hands and agreed that no more criminals should be sent to prison. He also agreed to subordinate the Prison Service, which currently protects millions of people from crime by locking up some (admittedly a minority) of those who commit it, to the Probation 'Service', an organisation which vies with Social Work departments in political correctness and practical ineffectiveness. On a separate front, IRA/Sinn Fein apologist and domestic violence specialist Ken Livingstone has been readmitted to the Labour fold.

At last, a decision on prisons. The prison population has risen continually since Michael Howard's reforms first started to reduce some crimes, despite the efforts of Scots jurists. At some stage it was obvious that either the trend would have to be reversed, or new prisons would have to be built. Both Straw and Blunkett have sat hypnotised as the prison population rose, and have refused to sanction the major building program which was neccessary. They are left with no option but to try to send fewer people to jail. The methods used, mainly so-called 'community' service, are proven failures and their even wider adoption will result in more people becoming victims of crime.

It is difficult to realise the extent of the rot in the Criminal Justice System unless you have direct experience of it (usually as a victim), but one of the glories of the Web is that the grim facts are there for all to see. Image of magistrates as hard-headed traditional types ? Forty years too late mate - this gives more of a flavour of today's Bench.

"Magistrates rate Probation as having a greater effect on reducing crime than Prison.
Eight out of ten agree that community sentences punish offenders.
Eight out of ten agree that community sentences enable offenders to pay back to the community.
Seven out of ten agree that community sentences help to rehabilitate offenders. Magistrates are not aware yet of the evidence that Probation programmes reduce re-offending.
Magistrates seem to want wider public support for their use of community penalties."

I like "Magistrates are not aware yet of the evidence that Probation programmes reduce re-offending." That's because there isn't any.

If you check out the Youth Justice Board you'll find they're Guardianistas to a man - or more usually, to a woman. And as for the training of Probation Officers - take a look at this management-babble and see if you can find any mention of how they're actually going to prevent reoffending. All I gathered from it is that the male probation officer is an endangered species, outnumbered three to one in the 2000 intake. They also monitor by race and disability, though sadly not by all three - so the spectre of the disabled - no ! Don't go there !

More information on community sentencing is available at Peter Coad's invaluable links page at the Criminal Justice Association.