14 July 2008

Crime and Punishment

This might be boring so if you don’t wish to read the diatribe of a right-wing nutter click on the little cross in the top right of your screen. Caveat over !

The other day whilst sitting in my local bar waiting for some ex-colleagues from BT I picked up the Daily Mail and immediately saw that yet another youngster had been stabbed to death in London. Those who say knife crime in particular and crime against the individual in general is not an epidemic in the UK is either a politician or some do-gooder who has little sense of reality. It led me to think about the underlying nature of this UK ‘social disease’ and how to possibly address it and here are my thoughts.

As a youngster brought up in Glasgow’s toughest neighbourhoods I knew crime. My earliest memory of crime and punishment (although I’m probably stretching the point here) is when I saw a new Triumph Mayflower car parked outside my house in Glasgow. It was stunning – a triumph (pun intended) of sleek design and pure motoring class. Anyway, I was 7 years old and could not resist getting into it and sitting in the driver’s seat and moving the steering wheel whilst making those brrmm brmm sounds kids make when playing with cars. What I stupidly forgot was that no more than 10 yards away was a blue police box (same as Doctor Who’s) and outside was a policeman. He came over, opened the door, dragged me out and took me up the close (which is a Glaswegian alleyway leading to ‘flats’ called tenements in Glasgow). He then proceeded to take my short trousers down and spanked me on my bare bottom until I was screaming. Now three things come from this – (a) it could’ve been my father’s car although someone living where I did could not possibly afford such a car, (b) I never ever did that again and (c) that sort of thing would not be allowed today – I could sue for assault and battery, sexual assault and infringement of my human rights !

Later, in my teens I lived in Easterhouse, a notorious Glasgow overspill housing estate where gangs roamed freely, walking the streets at night was a calculated risk and unless you could run the 100 metres faster than Dwain Chambers on drugs you stayed indoors. After several years of lawlessness (and not a single police station in the area) vigilante groups were set up and within months their summary justice had cleaned up many areas of the sprawling estate. All they had to witness was a group of youths causing damage to cars, smashing windows or harassing innocent passers by and their ‘punishment’ was meted out without mercy. The problem was dramatically reduced.

So it is with a growing sense of unease that I read of the epidemic of knife crime in the UK and a justice system which inexplicably does not ‘cage’ those found in possession of a knife. My earlier point is that if a severe punishment is meted out early enough the problem generally goes away.

I used to go to the Old Bailey whilst I worked in London and the thing which struck me was that on many occasions the ‘victim’ would be a proven drug dealer, rapist or other low-life whose time had come and whilst I have a view that those who ‘live by the sword (generally) die by the sword’ and I’m not particularly worried about that, the kids who carry knives these days are in the early stages of a life of crime and many of them can be made to see the error of their ways – not by the UK Government’s half-baked plans announced yesterday of ‘meeting their victims’ but by a quick, short, sharp punishment in a correctional establishment run in a way which makes them feel they’re being punished not rewarded.

Back to the Old Bailey. When you’re there you’ve been implicated in something really serious and yet during these murder, rape and robbery trials the defendants would often laugh and joke whilst quite obviously facing a long custodial sentence. For them, being inside for twelve years was at worst an inconvenience. At best they’d be reunited with their mates, they’d be fed, watered and would get copious amounts of drugs.

All this leads me to the conclusion that until we get a right-wing government in the UK, a government who actually takes crime seriously and who brings back a measured and appropriate punishment regime, then crime and more particularly, crime against the person will continue to proliferate.

I’m sure we’ve all watched US crime programmes where those pronounced guilty get life without parole, 200 years, the death penalty – read the following article. This would sort the low-life out.


1 comment:

Tan said...

stop reading the daily mail..