HM Courts Services 2 December, 2010
102 Petty France
Dear Mr Meek
Thank you for taking the trouble to reply to me. I am sure you have enough to do without being pestered by persistent whingers, but I feel compelled to put my point of view.
I appreciate your comments; Of course, judges in the UK are independent of the legislature, which is one of the crowning glories (there are still a few left) of our country. Unfortunately, this argument doesn’t cut the mustard, even when one takes the inadequacy of press-reporting into account (And the press is not always wrong, either.)
Parliament is sovereign. It makes the laws; judges interpret them. I see many judgements as plain daft, and this can’t be blamed on judges or inadequate reporting. Judges are human, so a certain % of them are no doubt as daft as any other group. The point is, the framework of action of judges is decided by Parliament. Unfortunately, I am not alone in thinking that “the law” (the whole apparatus) is something of a joke and certainly a disgrace.
I refer you to the following, which appreared on 5th December in “The Independent”:
In 2009, 2,660 criminals received non-custodial sentences for indictable offences – serious enough to be tried at Crown Court – despite being cautioned or convicted between 51 and 75 times, almost double the 1,605 total in 2007. The number of offenders who avoided immediate custody, despite having between 16 and 25 previous convictions or cautions, rose from 25,000 in 2007 to 28,000 last year.
In total, 3,500 people escaped prison sentences in 2009 despite having more than 50 previous convictions or cautions – compared with 2,182 in 2007. In 2009, 20,913 offenders – who had been convicted or cautioned between 26 and 50 times – received non-custodial sentences – compared to 16,367 in 2007. The law defines a persistent offender as someone convicted or cautions for three or more separate offences.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of judges’ decisions and how they are reached, or the dislike of Mr Clarke for custodial sentences, the idea that anyone with FIFTY previous convictions or cautions can escape prison is surreally-nonsensical. You know as well as I do the terrible cost of crime in both financial and human terms. A person with FIFTY convictions has caused IMMENSE cost and hurt, but is left FREE to continue doing the SAME? I am sorry, but it is plain WRONG. It is all very well disliking prison (who doesn’t – it is very expensive) but if it is the ONLY THING THAT WORKS, THEN WE have NO CHOICE.
Personally, I regard “community sentences” for most of these persistent offenders as a joke. Clearly, THEY DO NOT WORK. These people with multiple convictions are just having a laugh at us. Worst of all, this all brings the law into disrepute. My impression is that my misgivings about the current direction of policy are widely held, and it would be nice to think that the feelings and opinions of the plebs count for something, and not just at election time either.
Please do not feel obliged to reply as I know this argument could go on for ever. I would just be grateful if you would add my comments to the general weight of feedback that the Minster receives.
Yours Sincerely C SNUGGS
Big names such as Boots, Tesco, Debenhams, Asda, TK Maxx, Wilkinson, B&Q and Superdrug are demanding a £150 penalty each time in civil actions against alleged thieves.
They adopted the policy after the last Labour government decided police no longer had to pursue criminal prosecutions against many shoplifters.