Monday, May 05, 2008

A Judge who has it spot on

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.


Anonymous said...

As usual anthony you are talking out of your backside and without really knowing what you are talking about. Community sentences are not just about unpaid work they are also about rehabilitation and managing risk inthe community. You comments about ending the release of prisoners before they have served their full sentence fails to understand the role of the probation service and how risk is monitored in the community. Prisoners are not just released without sueprvision or restrictions. do you research before you talk usual tory crap

Anonymous said...

i suggest you find out what the probation service does and stop feeding unnecessary public fair and tory rubbish

Anonymous said...

have you not had any responses

Antony said...

As you might imagine, although my personal experience is limited to the youth side and the YISP aspect, I am very aware of the role and purpose of the probation service. Yes it works for lots of people but for a significant minority it does not and this police is driven by govt failures elsewhere in the system. I am sorry that you are unable to make more of an intellectual or reasomable response than calling it "rubbish" or "crap". Must try harder, anon.

p.s. The letter was printed today in the EEN and judging from emails and phone calls people agree with me and not you. Were you at Tuesday's SNAP meeting? Did you watch Look East on Tuesday? Public confidence is at an all time low because of this. You had better sharpen your arguements if you want to keep the current failing system.

Anonymous said...

Back in the days of Conservative government, when Michael Howard was talking tough and the prison population was rising. People still got released at halfway for short sentences and serious criminals used to get parole even back then. Not a huge amount has changed. However what has changed is the length of time it takes to put someone back into prison when they breach the terms of their release. Back in the 90's you had to get a summons or warrant at Court, get them there, get them found guilty and then they might (just might) get sent back to prison. If they were really cute the person would lay low until their sentence had expired - then not a jot could be done with them. On average it could take 4-6 weeks in which time who knows what the offender would be up to.

These days within two hours of breach the Police can pick someone up and return them to prison - all thanks to recall through the home office. A rather brilliant Labour innovation.

Whilst the Tories might talk about how tough they were - in 18 years they left a massive gaping hole in public protection policy that Labour filled within 2 years of taking office. Facts are facts.

There is a prison crisis, Labour has caused it through a variety of failings but I fear the Tories had no solutions in office and they have none now!