Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Three Great Posts

Difficult to find the time for major posts, what with wrapping, shopping and the odd party - but what need when you can sit back and see people saying just the things you'd want to say, given time, knowledge and writing ability.

Tim Worstall brilliantly takes apart the caring Dutch, who now deliberately kill 4-5,000 old or sick people in their hospitals each year, quite apart from the babies. From 'post-natal abortion', through the killing of the old, to the UK where you must provide ramps for the disabled but can kill a baby for a cleft palate, he hits every target.

Euthanasia has been practised for 10 years in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalise the practice, and now accounts for 4-5,000 deaths a year, 3.5% of the national death rate.

Huh? This ever so rare proceedure, one to be used only in extremis, in the most difficult cases, now means that for the poor benighted Dutch they have a 1 in 30 chance of being murdered in their sick beds? This is an advance in civilisation in exactly what manner? With these numbers would you want to be placed in an old people’s ward in that country? It is of course absolute proof that there is no validity to the slippery slope argument, no, none at all.

The practice is severely circumscribed and tightly regulated.

I believe this is known as gallows humour.

Melanie Phillips takes apart the Law Lords judgement on the Belmarsh 'detainees' (who are of course free to leave the UK at any time), focusing particularly on the bizarre theory that the law cannot discriminate between UK and foreign nationals - I believe we still have, for example, residence and immigration laws which (in theory at any rate) explicitly discriminate, and on Lord Hoffman's apparent ability, in his own eyes at least, to judge terrorist threats better than the elected Home Secretary.

And I urge anyone with an interest in the UK Criminal Justice system to read Norman Dennis at the Civitas blog, currently posting up a storm on Blunkett, the myth of "falling crime", and the claim that Jack Straw had left the Home Office "in a mess".

In the first eleven months of 2004, the year of Mr Blunkett's departure, with December's figure of about 2,500 still to be added in, there have been 33,673 personal-property robberies in London--with December included, not fewer than 36,000 for the full year.

Thus Mr Blunkett has not succeeded in getting the figures back even to the 35,709 personal-property robberies of 2000. Mr Blunkett was all the further, of course, from getting back to the figure with which Mr Straw began, the 27,000 of 1997, which included business robberies as well.

Robberies of personal property in London is a good figure to take. The Home Office is directly responsible for London's policing. There's been no significant change in how it robbery is defined. The category of "robberies" has hardly affected by changes in recording practices by the police. The British Crime Survey has too few cases of robbery for it to be of much use, so the Home Office uses the police figures. The figures are right up to date, so officials and ministers cannot claim that things have (unprovably) improved since the figures were collected

For all these reasons, the usual slipping and sliding between one set of figures and another is not possible here.

On the assumption that the December 2004 figure will be very low at 2,500, robberies in London would have fallen from 48,000 in 2001 to 36,000 in 2004.

But as late as 1990 there weren't as many as 36,000 robberies in the whole of England and Wales!

Taking the generous and hopeful estimate I suggested above--that the figure for London for December 2004 might be only 2,500--as late as 1961 there weren't as many as 2,500 robberies a year in the whole of England and Wales.

In the year David Blunkett became Home Secretary, 2001, there were 5,900 robberies in Lambeth alone. The national figure for robberies did not exceed 5,900 until 1969.

It is scarcely an occasion for popular celebration when the figure for Lambeth alone in the first 11 months of this year is 2,419. For this is more than the national figure of robberies for the full twelve months of 1961, 2,349, just before the cultural revolution began to shower its blessings upon us.

No the wonder people "fear" that crime is growing. People would have had to be extremely stupid not to come to fear crime. The stupid thing is to say that the fear of crime is "as much the problem" as crime itself.

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