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English crime wave....Agricola?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by fallingblock, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. fallingblock

    fallingblock Well-Known Member

    The Sunday Times, London
    February 08, 2004

    Official: England is international soft touch for criminals
    Will Iredale and David Robertson


    FEWER burglars and robbers are convicted in England and Wales
    than in other leading western nations, according to a study of
    crime trends by the American government.

    The research, by the US Department of Justice, shows that England
    and Wales have had some of the largest increases in theft yet
    some of the biggest falls in conviction rates.

    Robbery suspects in America are now five times more likely to be
    convicted than those in England and Wales, while convicted
    burglars across the Atlantic are twice as likely to be punished.

    The study of eight countries amounts to an indictment of the
    prosecuting agencies, including the Crown Prosecution Service
    (CPS) and police, exposing for the first time the gap between the
    best and worst countries.

    In the best - Australia - robbers are seven times more likely to
    be convicted than in England and Wales, where only 18% of
    recorded offences result in a conviction.

    The research, which will be published later this month, is the
    most comprehensive yet conducted into international crime trends
    spanning nearly two decades. Teams of academics in each of the
    countries used sophisticated calculations to compare data from
    each nation.

    They found that America is the most successful in improving
    conviction rates for burglary, up by 50% between 1981 and 1999.
    The rate in England and Wales fell by half, the worst record of
    the countries studied. For the 889,000 break-ins last year, only
    26,300 offenders were convicted - a rate of less than 2.9%.

    Robbery convictions in England have remained almost static during
    the same period, according to the research conducted in Britain
    by Professor David Farrington, a criminologist at Cambridge
    University. Such convictions have nearly doubled in Australia and
    have risen by 25% in America.

    Experts attribute the American success to its "zero tolerance"
    approach where minor crimes are blitzed by police and severely
    punished. This has led to a tenfold increase in America's jail
    population since the mid-1970s and lower crime rates. American
    criminals also serve more time in prison. Convicted robbers have
    spent an average of 40 months in jail over the two decades, while
    those sentenced in Britain served 20 months.

    "Here in the United States we have been on an incarceration
    binge," said Alfred Blumstein, professor of public policy at
    Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "Before, a burglar had
    to work hard to get into prison. But there has been a big
    increase in incarceration rates and much more attention is paid
    to these sorts of crime."

    While robberies nearly quadrupled in England and Wales from less
    than 21,000 to almost 79,000 over the two decades, they fell by
    10% in America. In the same period, burglaries in England and
    Wales increased by a third, while falling by a third in America.

    The tougher American approach has been accompanied by a huge
    expansion in prisons. In Britain, by comparison, courts have been
    advised to use alternative methods of punishment to ease the
    overcrowding in jails. Two years ago Lord Woolf, the lord chief
    justice, proposed community punishments for convicted burglars,
    who would previously have been jailed for up to 18 months.

    Based on this advice Judge David Radford of Snaresbrook crown
    court in east London allowed Danny Coulson, a 28-year-old drug
    addict, to walk free despite confessing to 18 burglaries. Coulson
    was given a 12-month drug test and treatment order and an
    18-month community rehabilitation order.

    England's poor conviction rates have also been blamed on the
    bureaucratic burdens on police officers which distract them from
    frontline roles, and the incompetence of the CPS.

    An investigation by The Sunday Times two years ago revealed that
    case files were routinely lost and prosecutors were failing to
    gather sufficient evidence to take cases to trial.

    Official figures for 2001 showed that 172,000 cases out of a
    total of 1.4m were discontinued by the CPS; 6,000 were dropped
    because lawyers failed to prepare paperwork in time.

    David Blunkett, the home secretary, has moved to limit jury
    trials. He is also introducing tougher sentences for burglars and
    is championing antisocial behaviour orders to stop troublemakers
    taking over neighbourhoods.

    It looks as if the situation in England really is getting worse.:scrutiny:
  2. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    IIRC ... within the last year or so .. the cops there have actually stated that ''low priority'' burglaries etc will not even be investigated ... just too busy!

    Probably ... too busy with making traffic citations!:p
  3. agricola

    agricola Well-Known Member

    the article, athough its from the Times, does contain a number of points which have their basis in fact:

    i) the old-style CPS was incompetent and did not in any way fill the role of prosecution, except in major cases. At the street level, the people who I deal with - handbag thieves, shoplifters, small time burglars and the drunken assault people - would often turn up at court with their lawyer (who had obviously done his or her work and prepared the case for the defence), wheras I would have to meet a CPS person who, very frequently, would have been given the case (together with 4-10 other cases per day) that morning, or at best on the Monday morning of the same week. This meant that often, what was a very strong case turned into the CPS haggling with the defence for bind-overs because they didnt know their brief, and so couldnt challenge the defence's contentions. The situation is better in more major offences like robbery, but the CPS prosecutor will have other irons in the fire and cannot devote his time as much as the defence brief can.

    The situation has improved slightly, as some stations (mine is fortunate enough to have one) contain a CPS prosecutor whose sole job is to monitor the cases that are being prepared by Police and advise us, and the CPS prosecutor that will take on the case, the facts and the strengths and weaknesses of these so as to at least improve their knowledge of what they are dealing with. Its a small step, but its one in the right direction.

    The pre-CPS system retained for the bulk of small-time cases Police Officers who prosecuted these minor offences, which constitute the bulk of crimes in the UK. The system worked by all accounts because the officers knew the cases they were dealing with and had personal experience of how situations like that arise, and so could plan accordingly. However, in a lawyer-dominated world as we have at the moment anything that reduces their earnings has zero chance of success.

    ii) I have often said that sentencing is a bad joke and it wont get better until either HMG swallows the bullet and massively expands the capacity of the prison population or the Court system stops sending debtors and fine defaulters to prison, and starts instead punishing those people who breach the Court's bail - its become a sad fact of life (so much so that when it doesnt happen, its a shock) that anyone arrested for breaching their bail conditions attends Court, often with a very tired Pc, only to be told that he/she has been a bad person, mustnt do it again and is then sent on their way with the same, or reduced, bail conditions.

    I mean, when the Lockerbie bomber can have his sentence reduced from "life" to twenty-eight years (the maximum term is 30 - but killing three hundred people doesnt qualify for the maximum! :barf: ) and a man who ran over and killed a child can successfully appeal a sentence of eight months imprisonment, then I would suggest the system is in urgent need of attention.

    Ironically, the Police themselves have probably never been better funded - but this has a knock-on effect in that while all us warranted officers run around doing our jobs to the best of our ability, those miscreants who come to our notice start to jam the rest of the underfunded system - the CPS / Courts and the Immigration Service for a start - which does lead to the type of thing as illustrated above.
  4. Thumper

    Thumper Well-Known Member

    Summary execution, ag. Go get 'em. :evil:
  5. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Well-Known Member

    The problems noted are hardly unique to the UK. And I have to point out that the article has alot of instances where they compare rates of change (U.S. goes up X amount, UK goes down Y amount) without including the absolute figures (i.e. US rate is X, UK rate is Y).

    But it also seems evident that the UK has institutionally become very soft on crime, as much based on what agricola has said as anything else. And imprisoning debtors while letting violent miscreants go free is downright bizarre.
  6. Moparmike

    Moparmike Well-Known Member

    If the US would cease jailing those arrested for simple possession and use of narcotics, then our jails wouldnt be so full.

    I plan to ease overcrowding of local jails by shooting the burglar if he presses the issue of burglarizing me. Its amazing how pursuasive the sound of racking a shotgun can be.:evil:
  7. Bill Hook

    Bill Hook member

    Wonderful. :barf:

    Ah, debtor's prison. :rolleyes:
  8. Dain Bramage

    Dain Bramage Well-Known Member

    Whoah! Brain freeze! Agricola was almost sounding conservative. :eek:
  9. iapetus

    iapetus Well-Known Member

    And burden of proof, down to "balance of probability".

    But just for foreign terrorists.

    No, wait. That was several moths ago. Now it's native terrorists as well.

    No, wait. That was last week. Now he wants it for "organised crime" too.
  10. fallingblock

    fallingblock Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Agricola........

    for that cogent and insightful post.

    My daughter is a police officer in Indiana, and some of your frustrations are mirrored by her own.

    You do the work at the "pointy end" and then the poorly prepared state prosecutor's office either doesn't contest due to excessive case load, or bungles the prosecution so thoroughly that the crim walks.:barf:

    It's all part of the job, but how the average cop manages to keep after the miscreants is a mystery.:confused:

    Perhaps more funding for the court system is in order?
  11. agricola

    agricola Well-Known Member


    I dont think that money is necessarily the answer just at the Court level - after all, judges hands are tied to a certain degree because of the lack of space in the prisons and because of the various sentencing directives / non-custodial sentence options that HMG decrees must be available - like the DTTO mentioned in the Times report.

    You'd have to expand the Prison system to cope, as well as encourage the various politicos to stop implementing their new things to prove how tough they are on crime.
  12. fallingblock

    fallingblock Well-Known Member

    I suppose a lot of changes would be necessary...

    in order to achieve sustainable results.

    "You'd have to expand the Prison system to cope, as well as encourage the various politicos to stop implementing their new things to prove how tough they are on crime."

    Politicos have the most bizarre ideas on 'getting tough' on crime.:eek:

    Australia's P.M. seems to have a terrific case of hoplophobia, which has resulted in my exporting a couple of very nice handguns to prevent Mr. Howard's minions from destroying them.:fire:

    It will be noted that the illegal use of handguns is actually rising in Australia.

    Politicians cannot discern the very significant distinction between a lawful owner who obeys the law (and submits to registration), and the criminal.

    If there are any politicos reading this....

    The criminals won't surrender their firearms!
  13. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Well-Known Member

    That may well be true fallingblock, and the illegal use of guns may rise in England as well, but I think its important that we not fall into the gun grabbers trap of defining "gun crime" as a peculiar category of crime worthy in and of itself of eliminating without regard to the underlying crime that the gun is being used in.

    Murder is murder, rape is rape etc. We shouldn't allow the gun grabbers to set the bar of gun control "success" at just forcing criminals to switch murder implements.

    If England were to enact and enforce draconian enough penalties for firearm posession, they might indeed be able to get their armed robbers to rob 7-11's with knives and their street gangs to murder each other with firebombs instead of firearms - you don't want them to be able to look into the face of a rising robbery and homicide rate and say "Look we cut gun crime, it worked".
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2004
  14. fallingblock

    fallingblock Well-Known Member

    I agree completely, Stand_Watie....

    I was hoping to convey the futility of passing laws which only affect the law-abiding, the "buy-back" silliness here is a great example.:barf:

    The antis are certainly attempting to corrupt the categorization of criminal acts with their "gun deaths", "gun crime", "handgun murders" (no guns were kiilled in the perpetration of this homicide:rolleyes: ), etc..

    "Murder is murder, rape is rape etc. We shouldn't allow the gun grabbers to set the bar of gun control "success" at just forcing criminals to switch murder implements.

    This is precisely what is happening at the moment here in Australia. The rate of murder has not shown a downward trend, but the use of firearms to commit murder has. That trend began well BEFORE the "buy backs" and continues, yet the antis are certainly trying to claim credit for reducing "gun deaths" .
    (what they did to those poor "buyback" guns is indeed "gun murder").

    they might indeed be able to get their armed robbers to rob 7-11's with knives and their street gangs to murder each other with firebombs instead of firearms - you don't want them to be able to look into the face of a rising robbery and homicide rate and say "Look we cut gun crime, it worked".

    Absolutely! This is why we must continually remind the fence-sitters that the actual rates of homicide, suicide and violent crime have not been positively affected by these anti-gun measures.
  15. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Well-Known Member

    Fallingblock, here is a good example of how the gungrabbers will twist the facts to attempt to deceive the ill informed and slow witted -Canada's homicide rate rose 4% in 2002. The gungrabbers headline was

    "Gun Homicides Decline In Canada"

    They went on to claim this as success.

    "The numbers look encouraging," said Wendy Cukier of the Coalition for Gun Control in Toronto. "It's still a bit soon to attribute it to the most recent gun-control law, the firearms registry, but certainly the trend in Canada of strengthening controls over firearms does appear to be having an effect."

  16. fallingblock

    fallingblock Well-Known Member

    And here's the Aussie equivalent.....


    Especially check out the media releases at the bottom of the page.:barf:

    Wendy Cukier is a twisted hoplophobe of the first order.

    Unfortunately, she and others of her ilk are quite happy to prevaricate in order to enact the policies which they feel will "make us safer".:fire:

    If we can just point out the inaccuracy and outright falsification in their statements often enough, to enough people, maybe we can push the debate back to reason rather than emotion.:scrutiny:

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