Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Criminal Records

You sorted for squirrels?

So Blair has created a new criminal offence for every day he's been in office- a record breaking 3,023 since 1997, of which 527 came last year alone.

All the more impressive then that Labour have been so successful in reducing crime. Last night a "Downing Street spokesman" reiterated their familiar headline that "Crime has fallen by 35 per cent since Labour came to power".

But of course, crime has only fallen if you count it using the British Crime Survey- the government's crime opinion poll- rather than the soaring hard stats of crimes actually recorded by the police. And as always, polls schmoles.

For a start, how many people actually realise that "obstructing an inspection by the Adult Learning Inspectorate" is now a criminal offence, under the Learning and Skills Act 2000? Or that selling grey squirrel and Japanese knotweed is now outlawed under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006? And while you might reasonably guess that "causing a nuclear explosion" is illegal (but presumably OK until outlawed in the 1998 Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act), would you guess the same about a "failure to rigorously separate the accounts of ground-handling activities from the accounts of other activities in accordance with current commercial practice" (Vehicle Excise Duty (Immobilisation, Removal and Disposal of Vehicles) Regulations 1997)?

So when some government pollster asks you how much crime you think is going on, how on earth are you supposed to know? It turns out even the Attorney General's office has no idea how many offences actually exist on that famous statute book, saying only "there are thousands and thousands." Yes, quite. Well thank you for that.

With 3,023 new offences, it's plainly ludicrous to suggest crime is going down. Take all those millions of unprosecuted mobile phone drivers. Prior to 1 December 2003, that was perfectly legal: now it's not, and just because the police ignore it doesn't mean it's not a crime (it will be interesting to see what defence the Hampshire tyre slasher offers if he's caught- Deathwish style, he's clearly been mightily provoked by non-existent policing).

Actually, having glanced through some of Labour's new offences, I'm pretty sure the Tylers have become habitual criminals. I strongly suspect that Mrs T is up to her neck in obstructing the work of the Children's Commissioner for Wales (contrary to the Care Standards Act 2000).

PS If anyone wants a few squirrels or some Class A Japanese knotweed, I might know a man who could point you in the right direction. I'll say no more.


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