Monday, May 29, 2006

Soft On Crime

The Major is spluttering with rage over the disclosure that while serious crime is soaring, conviction rates have collapsed:
  • Serious wounding- offences have quadrupled since 1980, but conviction rate has slumped from 30% to less than 10%
  • Robbery- offences have quadrupled since 1980, but conviction rate has slumped from 23% to 9%
  • Rape- offences has increased ELEVENFOLD since 1980, but conviction rate has slumped from 40% to 5%

Doubtless there are all kinds of complex mumble explanations for why this has been inevitable, but the Major and I blame government incompetence.

First, they have been in denial. Even though we can all see the surging tide of lawlessness, and even though recorded crime is through the roof, they keep telling us it's all in our minds. According to their preferred measure- the opinion poll known as the British Crime Survey- crime is falling. But of course, when it comes to serious crime, the BCS is shot full of more holes than a victim of soft crime policy:

"First, almost half the 2.4 million 'violent incidents' that the BCS estimates happened in Britain last year involved no injuries at all, and most of the rest caused only very minor ones. Just 2 per cent required a visit to hospital. Second, even the BCS accepts there have been 'statistically significant increases in stranger violence and in the proportion of offences receiving medical attention', and that when it comes to more serious assaults, police figures have always been much more accurate. The more serious the assault, the more reliable the police figures become: stabbings or beatings that leave their victim near to death have never been likely to pass unreported."

Second, the police spend all their time filling in forms so that detection rates are well under a quarter ( see the Policeman's Blog) .

Third, the penalties are thought by peasants, Majors, and criminals alike to be trivial. A long weekend in Sussex by the sea is not really ten to twenty on the Rock.

And fourth, our criminal prosecutors are hopeless. We previously blogged the Public Account Committee's probe into the shambolic Crown Prosecution Service, and here we see the consequences.The £600m pa CPS is a classic bureaucratic quagmire staffed by low-grade lawyers who can't get a job elsewhere. The result is that many bad guys walk free because cases are withdrawn by the CPS: in reality, the CPS can't even answer their office phones, let alone mount consistently professional prosecutions.

As we said before, we need locally elected sheriffs. We also need to break up the CPS and put criminal prosecutions on the hands of locally elected DAs.

Meanwhile, the Major is organising the vigilantes.


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