Thursday, January 04, 2007

Capital Punishment: Self-Denying Ordinance

As we know, capital punishment is still something that arouses strong feelings on both sides. It's also something that is most unlikely ever to be reinstituted in Britain during my lifetime, especially after the grim video of Saddam's hanging.

And for BOM - special subject the waste, lies and general all-round incompetence of Big Government - it's a contentious off-topic distraction. So we're going to stop blogging it.

As Sean so splendidly pointed out, my chart showing the increase in homicides since 1965 might reflect the impact of Dylan playing electric guitar at Newport, rather than the abolition of hanging (see comments). And as others have argued, all those up-down US stats showing an apparently strong inverse relationship between the rise and fall in homicides and the off-on death penalty could just be some statistical artefact.

Yes, indeed.

Correlation does not imply causation.

No, indeed.


For the future, we will switch to regular monitoring of the homicide stats, without further comment. Other that is, than the observation that post-abolition, those running our criminal justice system are entirely unable to come up with any effective solution. As with so much crime, we're pretty much on our own.

For reference, here's the last annual charting by the Home Office (Home Office Statistical Bulletin 02/06, Fig 2.1, with the underlying stats set out in Table 2.01):

So in the five years pre-abolition, homicides averaged 298 pa. In the most recent five years, they averaged 891. Which on my reckoning is a tripling (OK, OK, strip out Harold Shipman if you insist, but it doesn't change the Big Picture).

And yes, the population has grown over the years. In 1965 we had 54.4m, and now we have 60.2m. So that's an increase of about 10%. Again, it doesn't change the Big Picture.

Finally, just for completeness, we might just note that in the decade pre-abolition, actual executions averaged under five pa.

Updated HO stats should be available soon.

Stay safe.

PS On our own? Yesterday we heard of yet another murder where a police failure to act- this time on actual intelligence- directly caused a death. They'd heard of a plan to shoot a "well-known gangland figure", but chose to ignore it. Sure enough, "at around 2.30am on April 21 2003 - Easter Monday - eight men stormed through a side entrance at Turnmills, fighting with door staff and firing shots in reception. Some of the 970 clubbers were robbed and three rounds were fired outside the premises. In the melee, Target A fled in an Audi TT sports car with Jason Fearon, 26, chased by the attackers in a BMW. As the cars sped through Clerkenwell, the attackers fired off 23 rounds from the window of their car. One struck Mr Fearon - who wore a bulletproof vest - in the head. He was pronounced dead at University College hospital."

Now we middle class types might say, ah, gangland killing... who cares? But it just so happens that young Tylers have been known to attend Turnmills. And you know, I'm really not paying my taxes so they can get caught in St Valentines Day crossfire.

For a round-up of similarly scary police bungles, watch The Bloke here. How different it was in Mrs T's brother's day.

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