Saturday, January 10, 2009

Murdered Protecting The Family Business

The Village Postmaster has a special reason to be shocked about the gunning down of Craig Hodson-Walker: every day he and his family stand in the very same frontline as Craig.

We're just as shocked. Shocked that in 2009 Britain, we have armed gangs roaming the countryside, targeting quiet village stores in broad daylight, and quite prepared to murder anyone who gets in their way.

We're also angry. Angry that successive governments have totally failed to grip the long-term rise in murder and violent crime inflicted on law-abiding communities. And angry that the homicide rate has virtually trebled since the mid-sixties.

Now of course, there are all sorts of reasons that may have happened, but we believe much of it reflects a fundamental problem we have with deterrence: ie there isn't any.

As long-time readers may recall, we see a clear link between our soaring murder rate and the abolition of capital punishment - which is why many still call for its restoration. But we're not going to blog that, because it's never going to happen, and our self-denying ordinance remains in place.

Instead, let's consider the alternative deterrent foisted on the British public when hanging was abolished in 1965: life sentences.

As it happens, Tyler's Christmas pressie from Tyler Senior included Words and Deedes, a collection of articles written by the late great Bill. And in 1962 he wrote a piece highlighting some of the difficulties with the life sentences then being promoted by abolitionists (he personally favoured retention). In particular, he questioned whether Home Secretaries and others would actually have the stomach to keep people in jail for life: as he put it "not many want to substitute for sudden death by hanging slow death in gaol."

And how right he was. Although the public - three-quarters of whom opposed abolition - were promised a deal, under which "life really does mean life" for murder, these days "life" has actually come to mean an average of just 14 years. Our wonderful parole system releases convicted murderers sentenced to life imprisonment after an average of just 14 years.

What kind of deterrent is that to the hoodlum scum who shot dead Craig Hodson-Walker?

In 14 years or less, they could be out and about killing someone else. Remembering of course that an average of two victims every year are murdered by someone who has already been imprisoned for one murder, but released to murder again (see table 1.12 in the official Home Office stats).

What's more, the whole thrust of recent developments is towards even shorter prison terms for killers. In 2002, a notorious double-murderer used European Human Rights laws to stop our Home Secretary imposing minimum jail terms for lifers. And our liberal legal establishment whooped with joy.

Because those liberal lawyers of ours don't like life sentences one little bit. And worryingly, they deny there ever was a "deal" with the British public over life meaning life. Leading QC and founder of Amnesty International, Sir Louis Blom-Cooper, says:
"The notion of a bargain with the public that there would be substitution of very long sentences as a quid pro quo for abolition is nonsense. There never was any such bargain. When abolition took place the legislation was simply to get rid of the penalty."

That sure ain't the way we remember it. But it does underline how little say we had - and still have - in the decision.

The truth is that hundreds of innocent people die in this country every year because our rulers have shamefully failed to deter murderers.

14 years and falling simply doesn't do it.

As simple as that.

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