In times when the judiciary are often criticised, it is welcome when such senior figures of Judge Peter Jacobs breaks him silence to speak out against problems with the community sentence programme.
The government have so badly mishandled the criminal justice system that we now have prisons full to bursting; so their clever new plan to deal with this is to extend community services to more and more crimes to keep down the prison population.
Community services was originally designed to deal with minor crimes, especially ones where there could be a “restorative” element to their work – such as, for example, cleaning walls or tidying communal gardens.
Now the government has put us in a situation where people who have been involved in theft, physical assault and burglary are given community sentences - crimes that used to warrant a prison sentence. But, now under Labour, they are downgraded. Of course, some of these do work, but when people refuse to complete their sentence, give the authorities the run-around and end up bouncing in and out of court with judges trying to make them comply with their original ruling it makes a mockery of the system.
It ends us costing more in court time and police paperwork and detracts from catching more criminals. Judge Jacobs should be applauded for making this front page news and now the politicians must do their part in making the system work.
More prison places, a greater police presence on the streets, more preventative work (especially when drugs are involved), a proactive youth service and restorative justice must all play their parts.
But most importantly, people must be safe and know they are safe. They demand the right to know that justice has been done, and has seen to be done. People that flaunt community services undermine the whole system and fundamentally remove faith in the police, the judiciary and the legal system. Only by getting tough on this problem can we restore that faith.