Seven Years Of Failure To Deal With Rising Violent Crime.
To listen to the torrent of soft-on-crime propaganda being fed to the media by our ruling elite and leading intellectuals at the moment you might be forgiven for wondering if those of us keen to restore a belief in justice, punishment and a confidence in prison might be mistaken.
Over recent weeks, the soft-on-crime lobby, comprising assorted ranks of New Labour politicians, senior members of the judiciary, the director of the prison service plus countless prison reformers, criminologists, sociologists, and criminal support groups have been waging a battle for hearts and minds. On the other side of the battle line has been the media itself, journalists who have been replying with news headline after news headline exposing the numerous failures of a Home Office not fit for purpose, exposing shocking cases where dangerous prisoners have been released to seriously offend again, or have been given sentences widely thought to have been too lenient.
The British public, who in most opinion polls consistently support tough-on-crime measures including more use of prison, are effectively sidelined in this debate. It must be very confusing for the average person in the street who sees increasing violence within his or her community to be told that it’s all in their imagination, all a matter of perception, and offenders must be released from prison because “prison doesn’t work”.
Here is a reminder how things have progressed over the last six years under a government that desperately wants to be soft-on-crime, but tries to pretend otherwise to avoid losing electoral support.
What follows is a collection of BBC headlines between 2000 and 2006 from reports of the police recorded crime figures which are published every July.
Big rise in violent crime (18/07/2000)
A dramatic rise in violent crime has been revealed in the government's latest figures - +15.6%.
Violent crime on the rise (19/07/2001)
Violent crime in England and Wales is continuing to rise, while detection rates by police officers are falling.
Home Office figures unveiled on Thursday showed violent crimes increased by 4.3% in the 12 months ending in March.
Violent crime still on the increase (12/07/2002)
Violent crime up 11% to 812,000 incidents.
Fight on crime 'being lost' (17/07/2003)
The government has been accused of losing the fight against crime as police figures showed violent crime was up 2% in the year to April.
Violent crime figures rise by 12% (22/07/2004)
Police in England and Wales recorded a 12% jump in violent crime over the past year and a 1% rise in crime overall, according to their latest figures.
Violent offences top million mark (21/07/2005)
Violent offences in England and Wales reached record levels in 2004-5 with police recording one million crimes - up 7% from the previous year.
Police figures show 1,035,046 violent incidents against the person, excluding sexual offences and robberies.
Violent crime still rising.(20/07/2006)
Violent crime up 2%.
The soft-on-crime proponents have not only been insisting throughout this six year period that community sentences, more liberal prison regimes, or even no prison at all are the ways to reduce crime, they have been in control of the system as well. Government, the legal profession, senior members of the prison service, criminologists and sociologists predominantly have not only supported the soft-on-crime approach they have been actively implementing it.
It’s time that we forcefully pointed out to them that the proof is in the pudding. It’s of little use them telling us over and over again that they are right and we are wrong, whilst violent crime is rising year on year.