Crime and punishment

Glasgow model is no panacea for violence

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“Sadiq Khan’s Crime U-Turn” screamed the front page of the London Evening Standard on 19 September. The article’s subtitle added, “Mayor finally backs new public health approach we demanded”.

This followed the announcement by London’s mayor of a “new approach” to tackling violent crime in the capital.

The paper’s boastfulness continued in an editorial which indicated, “We welcome the zeal of the Mayor’s conversion even if he didn’t manage to find time to credit us.”

A dangerous enterprise

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Judge Red

A column about socialists and the legal system

The law on joint enterprise is one of the most complex and controversial in criminal law. It can be used to convict people who are said to have acted together while committing an offence. Each defendant is held "liable for the acts done in pursuance of that joint enterprise", including "liability for unusual consequences".

After the riots

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The riots that exploded on the streets of London and other English cities last month provoked a vicious backlash by politicians and the media. Brian Richardson argues that the rage people expressed was rooted in the grinding poverty and injustice at the heart of British society.


Photo: Guy Smallman

How many rivers do we have to cross
Before we can talk to the boss?
All we have it seems we have lost
We must have really paid a cost

I rest my Casey

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Louise Casey, former Asbo tsar, is recommending that the government curtail the right to request a jury trial for some offences. Matt Foot exposes the injustices at the heart of Britain's justice system.

Governments come and go but tsars remain. Like some awful nightmare, the former anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) tsar, Louise Casey, has returned - this time as the commissioner for victims and witnesses. The Con-Dem government was quick to close all sorts of quangos (many useful), but has inexcusably promoted this unelected has-been as spokesperson for reform of the criminal justice system.

Doing Porridge

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Porridge was a wonderful 1970s sitcom about life in prison.

Each episode began with a judge making the following proclamation: "Norman Stanley Fletcher, you are an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offences - you will go to prison for five years."

Louise Casey is tired of human rights

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The increasing media obsession with the rate of crime in Britain has led to another draconian gem from New Labour's former "respect tsar", Louise Casey.

In the government-commissioned "Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime" report Casey argues, among other things, that people doing community service should have the added shame of wearing high visibility jackets stating that they are being punished. She also argues that websites, leaflets, posters and public meetings should be used to name and shame those guilty of crimes such as vandalism and tell people what their punishment will be. She also suggests giving community support officers the power to detain and fine people - a bit like budget versions of Judge Dredd.

Crime: Capital's Punishment

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Politicians and the media have whipped themselves up into a frenzy over the question of crime, and the solutions they put forward involve ever more draconian measures. Donny Gluckstein discusses why inequality, desperation and alienation are key to understanding why capitalism is the primary cause of criminal behaviour.

Britain is now one of the most unequal countries in the world. A recent report on boardroom pay reveals that the average salary of a top executive is 115 times greater than the average wage and a staggering 249 times the national minimum wage. There is now a mass of statistical data that shows that the bigger the gap between the richest and the poorest in a country, the higher the levels of crime, ill health and societal breakdown.

One Law for the Rich...

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'Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.' Really? What about the big criminals robbing people of millions and of a decent life?

Compare and contrast, as the exam papers say. A heist called the biggest robbery in Britain takes place where £50 million in notes is stolen from a depot. Days of headline news follow, including a dramatic incident where police shoot out the tyres of a car, the eventual recovery of some money and the detention of suspects.

Youth Policy: Bullying the New Labour Way

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Author Barry Goldson examines the criminalisation of young people under Tony Blair.

In early September Tony Blair made a speech in which he laid down the contours of New Labour's so called 'respect agenda'. He emphasised familiar themes and rationales, and differentiated between what he called the 'law-abiding majority' and the 'unruly minority'. In many respects Blair's speech echoed messages that have featured in major strategic policy documents including Cutting Crime, Delivering Justice: A Strategic Plan for Criminal Justice, published in 2004, in which the government set out its plans to 'protect the innocent' and 'pursue the guilty'.

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