American and British criminologists have long been puzzled and angered by the fact that Britain seems to have learnt nothing from the experience of New York in successfully reducing crime.
The big drop in virtually all types of crime in New York has generally been attributed to the zero-tolerance policy associated with Mayor Guiliani. Now Britain, far from adopting zero-tolerance, looks like it’s adopting a policy of not prosecuting many serious crimes at all. This is the subject of an official Home Office directive to all British police forces. British police have now been told that instead of arresting a range of serious criminals, they can be let off with a caution.
The Home Office says offenses that may now be dealt with by a caution include burglary of a shop or office, threatening to kill, actual bodily harm, and possession of Class A drugs such as heroin or cocaine if police decide a caution would be the best approach.
Other crimes including common assault, threatening behavior, sex with an underage girl or boy, and car theft should normally be dealt with by a caution, if the offenders admit their guilt but have no criminal record.
London and British crime rates have been increasing for years. Recently total crime rates for London have been estimated at about seven times those of New York for a slightly smaller population and some authorities suggest these figures have been minimized. England and Wales are now accounted by some estimates as the most dangerous places for crime in the developed world.
New York and London have populations of 8 million and 7 million respectively and comparable police budgets, though New York has about 40 percent more police actually on the beat. British papers retail many incidents of British police, rather than preventing crime, being kept busy “celebrating diversity” and prosecuting politically incorrect remarks and behavior (large amounts of money and court time have been spent by the Crown Prosecution Service on cases of children who have made politically incorrect remarks in school playground fights, for instance).
In Norfolk, where the Tony Martin affair and other matters revealed a state of professional criminal gangs systematically robbing and terrorizing isolated rural dwellers, police recently alerted all officers to the fact a man was still at large after having stolen four soft porn magazines. This desperado’s picture was sent to stations throughout the county, and the police released closed circuit television footage of the crime and appealed to members of the public to ring a Crimestopper number if they knew his identity and could help bring him to justice.
There have also been numerous and well-publicized cases of people being prosecuted and jailed for defending themselves from criminal attacks. A storekeeper was knifed in the back as he tackled a gang of youths stealing wine from his Norwich store. He was arrested on two charges of assault.
Shirley Best, owner of the Rolander Fashion Boutique, was ironing some garments when two youths broke in. They pressed the hot iron into her side and stole her watch, leaving her badly burnt. “I was frightened to defend myself,” said Miss Best, “I thought if I did anything I would be arrested.” In July 2002, a shopkeeper, Richard Barnes, hit a teenage thief whom he had confronted with a single blow. The thief had previously thrown a punch at him. Mr. Barnes was arrested, tried before a jury, and eventually acquitted after a three-day trial in the Hull Crown Court.
There have been doubts expressed that a right to self-defense still exists in British law. Following one homicidal home burglary Dr. Ian Stephen, an Honorary Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) at Glasgow Caledonian University, told householders:
“If you attack the burglar, or react in an ‘over-the-top’ manner… you will inevitably end up on the receiving end of a prison sentence that will far outstrip that imposed on the intruder in your own home…. [W]hen individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity…”
In 2002 a study found that 11 million crimes had been left out of British government figures, including hundreds of thousands of serious crimes involving woundings, robberies, assaults and even murders as well as thefts. Dr. David Green of the Civitas research institute said: “When you check the small print, it turns out the Home Office itself thinks that there were far more than the 13 million crimes discovered by the [official] British Crime Survey, perhaps four times as many.” Dr Green said the Office of National Statistics was subject to political interference and a genuinely independent statistical service was needed.
An official study published by the British Home Office in 2005 stated one in four youths aged 14 to 17 has been classified as a serious or prolific offender — that is had six or more minor offenses or one major offense within the past 12 months. The study suggested there were 3.8 million active offenders overall, far more than the government had previously acknowledged, yet only one percent of offenses resulted in a court appearance. Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, described the figures as “appalling,” and said, “we have to drive down the idea that crime is acceptable,” evidently a novel idea.
Dr. Green commented on the latest directive:
“They appear to have given up making the court system work and doing anything about delays and the deviousness of defense lawyers.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online