Monday, January 21, 2008

Downhill all the way

The Sun is following Gadget and others lead in decrying Britain as a descending into anarchy as feral youths roam the streets looking for innocent people to randomly assault and murder, etc etc.

Whilst I would take any appeal by the Sun with more than a pinch of salt I have got to agree with their letter writer who derides politicians as doing little more than giving sad eyes and soundbites. Couldn't have put that better myself. Whilst I would normally avoid the Daily Wail like I'd avoid the back end of a cow with digestive problems, I did enjoy their dig at Jacqui "one doesn't mind popping out for a kebab with my own personal armed policeman" Smith.

So what do I think? I've talked before about prisons. My opinion hasn't changed much- Prisons only work in the sense of whilst someone is inside they can't commit futher offences (except against other inmates and the occasional warden.) However, the populist press can not let go of the Victorian idea of that if someone has done something wrong they must be punished, and that the only way to properly punish someone is go to jail. "Community" sentences are derided as soft.

I'd disagree. Prison costs a fortune and rarely provides any rehabilative capability. For those who were sent to jail with a job and rented accomodation, they will rarely have either when released but services to deal with rehousing offenders are overstretched beyond any capacity to deal with any effective number.

I'd agree community sentences are ineffective but thats mostly because the services to monitor these sentences are again underresourced and overstretched and people frequently get away with avoiding them. I have yet to confirm the story I heard that one person appealed his community sentence of clearing rubbish as degrading, and under the human rights act some judge or other was compelled to agree and changed his sentence.

Properly funded and monitored community sentences, with the threat of a non-playstation equipped jail as a motive for compliance, where persons keep their jobs or studies going but losing their spare time to something beneficial to a local area- something like clearing litter, clearing graffiti, whatever- would be better for the minor offences rather than clamouring to throw everyone in jail.

The nasty unprovoked beatings like what Nicolas Hague showed himself capable of- our prisons are frankly too good for him. We should have a prison sharing agreement with Estonia (apologies to any Estonians, I have no idea what their jails are like, but you get my drift).

One thing which certainly doesn't work is the youth justice system. This whole situation is so spectacularly ineffective I simply have no idea where or how to start even thinking about where it has all gone wrong. But the end result at the moment is young adults have a system where everything is geared towards bending backwards for them- we're not even allowed to wear our belt kit into youth court in case the little darlings find it too "oppressive". Tell that to the victim of their knifepoint robbery. They have absolutely no respect for authority - i.e. us, courts etc- because they don't need to. Some little burgling so-and-so I arrested after he crashed the car (after pursuing him, ha ha) he had stolen from the burglary he did 2 hours managed to persuade the judge big nasty evil bully men were making him steal these things despite not providing one hint of a name or evidence, and so got acquitted on the burglary charge! He only got convicted for driving offences! Nuts.

Despite what the government believes and will probably do, no amount of target setting for getting youths into court within 2 days or new proposed legislation will make any difference. Not while we have parents who instead of giving their offspring a bollocking for shoplifting, give them a bollocking for being stupid enough to get caught by the police. Yes, I witnessed this myself. I was actually speechless, and had to leave swiftly before my mouth caught up with what my brain was thinking. Not while we have a culture that encourages all disputes have to be sorted out by someone else, because no-one wants to take on any responsibility on themselves- it is always someone else's fault.

And in the meantime politicians continue waffling out the soundbites, and people seem to accept them, despite it being proved time and again they are at best half truths and occasional outright lies.

It winds me up when I read about the stories like Gary Newlove. I get fed up with the lack of balls (apologies to Bloggs) from anyone in a position to do anything about it apart from order yet another inquiry.

I just get back up at a stupid time in the morning, and go back to work and do the best I can with the rules I've got.