Monday, 12 October 2009

Murderers, rapists and thieves – what do we do with them?

I will now slowly move across articles from my old blog to here. This is the first....

Fact – crime increases when economic times are hard.

Fact – We are currently entering the greatest economic depression since the great slump of the 1920s.

Fact – Violent crime – knife and gun crime – is increasing at an alarming rate.

Do you trust Labour or the Conservative Party to deal with this?

If you trust Labour, you obviously have been living under a rock for at least the last five years. If you trust The Conservatives to deal with the problem, you obviously didn’t know, or forgot, that the Criminal Justice Act of 1991 – when they were last in power – was responsible for major prison sentences being cut in half.

When discussing prison and punishment, debates always seem to split into two sides – those who believe in reform, education and skilled training for prisoners and those who believe in punishment, retribution and deterrents.

I’ve always wondered – why can’t we have both? It’s simple – prison sentences should be firm. They should take away rights and freedoms from those who have harmed others. Likewise, they should not be a holiday camp or free hotel. Sentences should be long too, it is a travesty that prisoners in the UK have been released early due to lack of space (as happened shortly after Gordon Brown took over). Conditions should be harsh. Yet at the same time, there should be classes providing education to prisoners and skills training to boot. This would provide a long term method of reform. Does all this sound unrealistic? It doesn’t to me.

Yes, your tax money will be spent on teachers and classroom equipment for inmates,it cold be the best money ever spent if it stops one criminal from going back on to the street and selling drugs, then catching one of your family in the cross fire over a turf war.

But let’s remember that prevention is better than cure. In the case of crime, the first, only and best line of defence should be our police. But it’s one of society’s worst kept secrets that we no longer have police on patrol (how often do you see bobbies on the beat in your town?) and are kept in virtual handcuffs themselves by red tape and constraints borne from political correctness and ridiculous liberal ideals. As such, we have a skilled and respectable police force that is often rendered powerless in doing their job.

How should we solve these problems?

Well when it comes to policing, I and the Popular Alliance would start at the bottom. Absolutely zero tolerance of gangs, graffiti, threatening behaviour and drunkenness on the streets. Don’t underestimate the importance of this, or mistake it for undue fear of relatively minor crimes. Stopping these types of offenses is absolutely crucial. Psychologists who study criminal behaviour (and generous behaviour, for that matter) frequently identify a ‘foot in the door effect’. What this means is that one small act of aggression or social upheaval breaks an imaginary mental barrier and makes it far more likely that the offender will go on to commit far more unpleasant crimes. No of course they won’t all do so, but many will.

If you doubt this ‘foot in the door effect’ think about how it applies to many aspects of life. How many of us have not tried to resist eating a single piece of pizza or downing that first glance of wine, only to find the whole pizza box or wine bottle empty an hour later? The good news is that such an effect can also work in reverse, and produce greater and greater acts of goodness in the right circumstances.For a very interesting read on this subject area, I strongly recommend ‘The Lucifer Effect’ by Philip Zombardo.

And rest assured, the police would have no problems doing their job under the PA. The disgraceful Human Rights Act would be scrapped and officers would be free to disperse gangs. In summary, our approach here is similar to the ‘broken windows’ police used by New York mayor Giuliani and was highly successful in fighting crime in New York.

Even in this day and age, different communities have different needs. Under the PA, police forces will be kept in regional constabulery form, and will be accountable to their communities. Regional chiefs will be elected.

When they are arrested, where will they go? Once again, under a Popular Alliance government you don’t need to worry. There will be enough prisons built. That may mean expenses elsewhere have to be reduced (oh yes, did we mention that we actually tell the truth, too? What the heck are we doing in politics?!) but it’s worth it, because nothing is more important to a society than the safety of its people and the freedom from fear of crime. In any case, the mass of red tape that we would cut would probably cover that expense anyway.

So there you have it take your pick – the rising tide of crime (thanks Labour) and politically correct prison sentences and lack of punishment (thanks Conservative) or a new system of common sense and reform. I challenge any supporter of any party to a debate on this topic. The Popular Alliance manifesto on crime is here.

No comments:

Post a Comment