Sunday, October 25, 2009

More Cost Ineffective Justice

Violent crime now even worse than unthinkably thought in 2000*

Returning from a couple of days sans broadband, we've been catching up with the Village Postmaster.

He and his family have suffered what's officially categorised as a high trauma crime - robbery in their own home. But we're pleased to see they're back up and running, and they've clearly had huge support from their customers and the local community. After 50 years of soft criminal justice and corrosive welfare dependency, it's reassuring to know some bits of Britain remain unbroken.

At least the police do seem to be taking it seriously. They told the VP that the raid on his store was one of many - the night after his own raid, three more retailers in the county suffered the same fate, quite likely at the hands of the same gang. They really do need to hunt down these scum before somebody gets hurt.

But then what? We return to the same question we asked initially - why do we have to tolerate people like this among us? Why can't we just lock them away for good?

As we've blogged many times, the Home Office has previously estimated* that half of all serious crime is committed by around 100,000 persistent offenders. Each one commits an average of 90 serious crimes every year. Yes, that's right - 90 (see here).

But of those 100,000, only 20,000 are in prison at any one time. The rest are out among us, free to crack on - robbing the VP in his own home, raping, pillaging, whatever takes their fancy.

The obvious solution is to build another 80,000 prison places (doubling the current number) and keep these persistent offenders inside. Permanently.

At the current average £40 grand per place, that would cost us £3.2bn pa, £1bn of which we could get by abolishing the useless probation service (eg see this blog). And by using a little imagination, we could substantially reduce the cost (Tyler Senior favours doing a deal with the Russians for some of their underutilised correctional facilities).

It all seems so obvious to Tyler, the Major, and a host of ordinary people out here in the real world. So why don't we do it?

We know why: our wibbly Prog Con elite - who rarely experience serious high trauma crime themselves - persistently block any such moves. People like Aaronovitch, Finkelstein, and Easton, are forever telling us we are Daily Mail moral panickers, and we are in denial about the true facts (eg see here and here). For is it not the case that the government's official crime statistics show a continuing fall in serious crime?

To which our response has always been that the published official crime stats are so massaged and manipulated that they're not worth the eco-friendly recycled paper they're printed on. And in the last couple of days we've had yet more proof.

First, Denis O’Connor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, has confirmed something we've blogged before - namely that the police are systematically under-recording crimes of violence:

"The plight of battered wives and other incidences of violence are being ignored by police. A third of the violent offences which were not recorded as crimes should have been...

Among the cases was that of one force which recorded that “no crime” had taken place when a woman’s partner slapped her, grabbed her by the neck and threw her on the floor, leaving her battered and bruised. The officers wrote that the victim would say that she had injured herself and that her partner’s account was “more accurate”...

In another incident, a man was knocked to the ground by a blow behind his ear. He was then kicked in the body. He needed six stitches in his head. The officer said he found the circumstances unusual and that the man might have been under the influence of alcohol when he fell. Mr O’Connor’s report said the incident should have been recorded as grievous bodily harm."

According to O’Connor, "the drive to meet government targets could be one reason why officers were failing to record offences".

You don't say.

Second, Policy Exchange have unearthed some unpublished Home Office research showing that the number of hardened offenders has increased alarmingly since the data summarised above:

This new study identifies 350,000 high-rate persistent criminals, who each commit around 260 crimes a year on average. That compares to the 155,000 identified in the earlier Home Office report* - a massive increase. And the number of active offenders overall now stands at an estimated 1.6 million (compared to 1.2 million earlier).

Alarmingly, it is in crimes of violence that the situation has deteriorated most.

The chart above is taken from a confidential crime report produced by Lord Birt for Tony Bliar in 2000. It shows what Birt thought would happen to violent crime by 2010 if the historic trend continued.

But although the chart was designed to shock, Birt was too optimistic. Even though we haven't yet reached 2010, according to the latest HO stats, recorded offences of violence against the person are already running well above the three-quarters of a million extrapolated by Birt. And that's despite the police fiddling the numbers.

But forget hopeless Labour - despite their neat slogans, they've always been useless on crime, and surely we all knew that really. The key question now is what is hug-a-hoodie Cam going to do about it?

I'm afraid I know. And it's not good news.

He's going to say, yes all this crime is a terrible indictment of 13 years of Labour misrule. Yes, indeed. And I'd like to help - I really would. But unfortunately there's no money. Cuh! What can you do?

Which is simply not good enough.

Because quite apart from the high trauma regularly inflicted on innocent hard-working families like the VP's, the Home Office itself reckons the loss and damage to property is now running at well over £100bn pa. Which makes the prison bill look like peanuts.

It's time. Broken Britain or not, we demand some proper cost effective justice.

*Footnote The earlier Home Office research was summarised in Lord Birt's thinking the unthinkable 2000 report for Bliar's Strategy Unit "A new vision for the Criminal Justice System" (see here). Including those 100,000 active persistent offenders who commit 50% of all serious crime, it said there were 1.2 million "active offenders". 155,000 of them were "high rate" offenders each carrying out an average of 250 - yes, 250 - crimes a year.

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