Tag Archives: crime

Jonathan Marks writes: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill comes to the Lords  

JusticeThe Lib Dems should be proud that under the Coalition Government crime is falling and fast – in 2013 there was a drop in offences overall of 15%, including a drop in violent crime of 12%, continuing a trend that has been continuous for more than five years.  Crime is now at its lowest level for more than 30 years.

This Bill marks the Coalition Government’s commitment to keep the pressure on to drive down crime.  There is much in it that is good.

The Lib Dems have led the way on a number of key issues. The hard work of Paul Burstow, and Lib Dem Care Minister Norman Lamb, has ensured that wilful neglect by care workers will become a new offence. This is a vital step to ensuring that some of the horrific treatment of patients and those in care that we saw at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital and the Winterbourne Care Home never happens again.

Thanks to the Lib Dems the Bill also makes progress in tackling police corruption by ensuring that police officers have special powers and responsibilities and they must not abuse them corruptly or improperly.

photo by:
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Lib Dem opposition to mandatory jail terms for second knife offences show our principles are intact

The Court House - Warwick - Coat of ArmsThe Lib Dems have sold our soul, abandoning all principle, since going into Coalition – so goes up the cry from the party’s detractors, both internal and the very many beyond.

That trite claim doesn’t sit very comfortably with the party’s actions today, voting against Labour and Conservative MPs’ united support of mandatory jail terms for any adult convicted in England or Wales of a second offence involving a knife. As the BBC reports:

Conservative MP Nick de Bois championed the policy, which won

photo by: ell brown
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Could Labour and Tories unite to pass tougher knife crime sentencing? How should Liberal Democrats react?

FSI working at crime sceneLast Friday, Joe Otten wrote about the leak of letters  revealing that the Liberal Democrats were opposing Tory plans to introduce a six month mandatory sentence for those convicted a second time for carrying a knife.

Today’s Daily Mail makes two claims. The first is that Labour is getting ready to “humiliate” the Liberal Democrats by siding with the Tories and they could pass this together. Secondly, they say that Nick Clegg was “bouncing off the walls” when he discovered the leak.

We know from the feature on

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Opinion: Regina v Nigel Evans should wake up MPs

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyNigel Evans’s acquittal on charges of rape and sexual assault has triggered various expressions of concern.
Those expressed, trenchantly by some, are:

    1. The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.
    2. The Crown treated him differently because he is an MP.
    3. The case shouldn’t have relied on alleged victims who did not consider themselves to have been victims.
    4. Nigel Evans is left with a huge bill to pay his defence.

“The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.”

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Reports of domestic violence rise, but convictions drop

Norman BakerThe Guardian reveals that the proportion of domestic violence cases that are being referred by the police to prosecutors has dropped from 12.1% in 2009/2010 to 10.5% in 2012/2013, even though the number of cases reported to the police had risen.

According to the House of Commons Library, more than 838,000 reports of domestic violence were made to police forces across England and Wales in 2012/2013, but only 6.3% resulted in a conviction, compared to 7.1% in 2009/2010.

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Opinion: Tell us your views on a fair, liberal criminal justice system

The prevention, detection and prosecution of crime and the sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders is one of the fundamental roles of the government and the independent judiciary. It is also something that matters enormously to the electorate. No-one wants to be a victim of crime. No-one wants to be accused of a crime they did not commit.  Many offenders would want to rehabilitate themselves and live a decent life in the future.

For too long, crime policy has suffered from an obsession shared by successive Labour and Tory Governments of seeking to be ever tougher than the last and yet completely …

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Danny Alexander’s photograph used in US scam

Danny Alexander’s photograph has been used by a con-man as a device to extract money from an American woman.  From the Independent:

Francis Rains received a phone call last September telling her she had won $2.5m and a Mercedes-Benz.  A man called her a couple of days later, apparently from a Jamaican number, saying she needed to send money to pay off the tax on her prizes.

In order to convince her to send the money, he sent her a picture of ‘himself’. The picture he sent was a smiling picture of Chief secretary to the Treasury,Danny Alexander.

Two other people,

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Guy Verhofstadt writes… 2014 European elections and the challenge for Liberals

This year’s European elections are bound to be a tough fight. Eurosceptics such as UKIP and the French National Front are determined to turn back the clock and tear down the internal market, stoking xenophobia and putting millions of jobs at risk. In the UK context, the Conservatives appear to want to throw in the towel and leave the EU, whilst Labour are still sitting uncomfortably on the fence. Only Lib Dems are clear where they stand as the party of In.

Being the main pro-European party, across the EU, though does not mean defending the status quo. As Liberals we …

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Norman Lamb writes… managing offenders with mental illness

It is a really disturbing fact that 1 in 4 members of the prison population has a severe mental illness. Addressing this is one of the big social reforms which has not yet happened.

Far too often these conditions are diagnosed for the first time in prison. In many cases, their mental illness will have been a significant factor contributing to their criminal behaviour. If these people had been properly diagnosed when they first came into contact with police, and they had been provided with appropriate support and therapy, their offending actions might have been averted.

Identifying offenders with mental …

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Liblink: Sarah Ludford on the 12th anniversary of the European Arrest Warrant

The European Arrest warrant, allowing those suspected of crimes in one EU member state to be arrested anywhere in the EU, was agreed 12 years ago. Now under fire from a small group of (soft on crime?) Conservative MPs, Sarah Ludford MEP responds in the Huffington Post.

Since 2009, hundreds of suspects have been extradited back to the UK to face charges using the EAW, including 63 for child sex offences, 105 for drug trafficking, 27 for rape and 44 for murder, while 4,000 suspects have been sent to other countries. …

In fact, the EAW has become so integral

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The European Election – Campaigning on the Issues

We are now just 30 weeks away from the next round of local elections. Crucially, these have been arranged to coincide with the EU-wide election for the European Parliament. Obviously who gets what seats in Brussels and Strasbourg seems far more removed from our ordinary lives than the running of the local Council, but it is still hugely important.

As a candidate in the European Election, I am very keen that we do not end up wasting time talking about Brussels obscurities. Instead, those of us selected to stand for the European Parliament are trying to talk …

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Norman Baker MP writes… Proud of the Lib Dem record on crime prevention

Two weeks is a long time in politics. In a few days I’ve gone from high-speed rail, environmental issues, and cycling to anti-social behaviour, drug policy and tackling violent crimes. It was a fantastic opportunity to work in the Department of Transport, and I know Susan Kramer will make an excellent Minister. We have achieved a lot in a short period of time, and I know Susan will continue to develop positive, progressive and sustainable transport policies.

I am very pleased to have been appointed as Minister for Crime Prevention, and continuing the good work which Jeremy Browne has done in …

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… The Liberal Democrats are presiding over falling crime

Today the Coalition Government has – once again – confounded its critics. Despite the ongoing challenges in our economy, crime continues to fall. Criminologists and Labour politicians have repeatedly pointed to the country’s economic troubles and insisted we would see a rapid increase in crime rates. The most pessimistic forecasters warned of an explosion in criminality that would undermine the very fabric of our society. And yet today we hear that crime in England and Wales is at its lowest point since the independent crime survey began in 1981.

The facts speak for themselves. Crime has been lower every single …

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Duncan Hames MP writes… Help shape Party policy in two new working groups

The Federal Policy Committee is advertising for members for two new policy working groups: Reform of Public Services, and Tackling Crime and Reform of the Criminal Justice system.

The Public Services group will look at overarching issues relevant to all public services, including themes like decentralisation and user empowerment, and also address specific policy issues in major services like education and health.

The other group will look at all aspects of preventing and reducing crime and the fear of crime, through the whole range of policy interventions.

Both groups are expected to produce policy papers for the Autumn 2014 party …

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Mike Crockart MP writes… Reducing reoffending and cutting crime

Wormwood Scrubs prison - Some rights reserved by TheGoogly3 years ago Liberal Democrats entered into the Coalition to put our nation’s economy back on track; building a fairer society and a stronger economy. But it wasn’t just about doing things in the national interest, we also went into Government to put Liberal Democrat policies into action.

At conference last year I moved a motion on reoffending so I am pleased that today Nick Clegg has set out many of the ideas passed by conference to rebuild our criminal justice system. Our …

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Huhne / Pryce: I just don’t see how ‘prison works’ for anyone here

His crime was speeding then lying (and lying some more). Her crime was lying and self-immolating revenge. Last night they spent their first night in prison.

Few people will spare much sympathy for either Chris Huhne or Vicky Pryce. They are, as Mr Justice Sweeney said yesterday when sentencing the pair to eight months each, the architects of their own downfall. Though I also think it would take a particularly stony heart not to look at the ashen-faced photos of them, besieged by a mob-handed press as their humiliation is played out in real-time in the full glare of publicity, and …

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Jeremy Browne MP writes… Confronting violence against women

Since the General Election, crime across England and Wales has fallen by 10%. It is now at its lowest level since the official crime survey began over thirty years ago. This is important news, and as Minister for Crime Prevention, it is my job to scrutinise these trends and to help them continue.

But amidst this positive news we must not lose sight of those statistics and stories which show we have a long way still to go. Violence against women and girls is one of those areas.

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Opinion: Hug a Hoodie or Mug a Hoodie? What would Borgen do?

It’s really rather a good feeling being a Danish Brit nowadays. Repeated requests for jumper-knitting instructions are admittedly a drawback, but one I can live with. More interesting are daily questions about policy matters as practised Borgen style. (For those who’ve been living under a stone for the past several months, “Borgen” is short for Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament building as well as the title of the appointment-to-view Danish version of the West Wing).

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Opinion: The Tories: tough on Europe, soft on crime

The news that Sussex teacher Jeremy Forrest has been arrested in Bordeaux on suspicion of abducting pupil Megan Stammers is a timely reminder of the value of EU cooperation to fight crime. The maths teacher, who now faces imminent extradition, joins a long list of suspects caught with a European arrest warrant and swiftly returned to face justice in the UK. But the Conservatives’ dogmatic opposition to all things European is now putting the safety of Britons at risk.

The European arrest warrant, in operation since 2004, has succeeded in cutting average extradition times in the EU from one

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Nick Clegg warns against arming the Police after Manchester shootings

In the wake of the  murders of police officers Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester yesterday, the issue of whether police should be armed is being raised by journalists.

The Scotsman reports Nick Clegg’s comments when asked about this today. He was quick to say that arming Police Officers was not the answer.

I don’t think this is the time to rush to instant judgments, this really is a time for mourning and support, of course, for the family and friends of the two women who have been killed.

We have a long tradition in this country, which is a great

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Coming up in the Lords: 21- 30 May

Welcome back to a suddenly rather quieter set of benches, as the avalanche of key votes has settled, and a new Parliamentary session glides effortlessly away from the Gracious Speech. We’re still catching up after the recess, so bear with us…

Having debated the Speech itself, and given the Government several pieces of its mind over Lords Reform, the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill has its Second Reading today. For more information, check out Norman Lamb’s piece, published in Liberal Democrat Voice last week.

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Paddick: some Met detectives adopt a “she wants it really” attitude to women alleging rape

The Lib Dems’ London mayoral candidate Brian Paddick is interviewed in today’s Guardian, and has some strong words for his former employers, the Metropolitan police:

Paddick warns that some detectives adopt a “she wants it really” attitude to women alleging rape and sometimes refuse to acknowledge that some types of men, such as licensed cab drivers, can be rapists.

The former deputy assistant commissioner is placing the Met’s mixed performance on dealing with rape at the heart of his campaign as the Liberal Democrat candidate in May’s London mayoral election. Paddick, who told the Leveson inquiry this week that he toned

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Opinion: Crime, transport and the battle for London Mayor

Just six months ago today London was emerging from its third night of rioting, with a semblance of order only just beginning to take hold as a massive police presence descended on the city. The fear in the streets was palpable. We had been given a brief and terrifying glimpse of what sheer anarchy looked like, the rage and shameless opportunism of London’s marginalised youth provoking deep existential questions about what was wrong with our society.

Yet, as the contest for London Mayor begins to build up momentum, Ken and Boris’ campaigns continue to revolve around the same old topic …

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Lynne Featherstone to propose stalking – in person or online – to be made an offence

Lib Dem equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is in the news for examining proposals to make the specific offence of stalking a criminal offence. The Independent reports:

Stalkers are to face jail under government plans to create a new criminal offence after prosecutors admitted it was hard to bring cases to court.

Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, on a visit to Manchester, unveil proposals to introduce a specific offence of stalking, potentially also covering cyber-stalking. A three-month consultation will also look at the use of restraining orders and police attitudes to stalking cases, following concern that the treatment

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Opinion: Cutting Crime in Scotland’s Festival City

Close partnership working and information sharing between agencies at a local level has contributed strongly to reductions in crime and anti social behaviour in Lib Dem led Edinburgh.

Scotland Capital, with its strong night time economy and festivals, has enjoyed reduced crime and antisocial behaviour in recent years. New shift patterns, leading to more officers being deployed where they are needed and when they are needed, have contributed to the reduction in crime. Co-located police officers, joint patrols with environmental wardens and information sharing between statutory agencies have also helped. Much of the improvement is also down to an …

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Crime down again…and still we’re unclear why

Crime was down again in the year to September 2010.

Recorded crime shows falls across the board, with the exception of sexual offences which are up slightly.   As ever, changes in recorded crime can be affected by changes in definitions, by the way the police do the recording or by the willingness of victims to come forward, but there are no major shift in any of those which would lead us to think it isn’t a real change.  (In some previous years there have been quite significant changes, some of which have made crime look higher than it really was).

The

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Opinion: good and bad reasons for backing Ken

Ken Clarke is coming under pressure from the Red Tops about his plans for sentence reform. According to Conservative Home, even David Cameron is getting cold feet. But Liberal Democrats, it is assumed, are bound to be backing Ken.

This might be thought a given as Liberals are, from the point of view of the media, supposed to have a benign, Panglossian view of human nature which unkind souls might call unrealistic or wet.

Wrong on both counts!

I have long thought the only good moral reason for punishing someone is that they deserve it and that the state is …

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Opinion: which is the biggest disgrace – the marriages or the sentence?

St Leonards on Sea has had its share of the national news recently – Banksy has been to visit and has left his moniker on our seafront; and in the last few days we have had a local vicar sentenced to four years in prison for his part in a sham weddings scam which has broken immigration law and also, it seems, a Marriage Act from the 1940s.

In case you missed it, the Independent has covered the case of Revd Alex Brown in detail. It transpires that no-one has been able to identify the motive of this errant …

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Tackling anti-social behaviour by training the public

That’s the intriguing proposition in a pamphlet by Ben Rogers, published this week by the RSA. He starts with the case of first aid – point out how the widespread training of the public in first aid has helped supplement the core health services provided by the state – and then goes on to suggest a similar approach to anti-social behaviour:

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David Howarth writes … Now is the time to reform our penal policy

Last month the Howard League for Penal Reform launched its Take Action 2010 campaign, with the general election in its sights. The campaign reflects a growing consensus among experts and campaign groups that penal policy has reached a crisis point.

The Howard League’s campaign covers four policy areas – investment in the community not prison, ending short prison terms, justice for children, and creating a scheme of real work inside existing prisons. All four of these themes echo Liberal Democrat thinking and I very much welcome the campaign.

Billions of pounds are spent on maintaining our prisons and …

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