Tag Archives: crime

The Value of PCCs

On Monday, 16th April, Suzy Lamplugh Trust launched a report looking at the police response to stalking in England and Wales.

Stalking is a devastating crime, affecting 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men across their lifetime.  Victims can develop anxiety, depression and agoraphobia; 50 per cent of victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder.  Many victims feel so concerned or fearful about what is happening that they feel the need to change their behaviour to feel safer, including not going out in public, reducing social outings, and moving home.

The report released on Monday is a repeat of research completed two years ago looking at recorded crime figures, and Police and Crime Commissioner funding for specialist services for the 1.1 million people who experience stalking every year in England and Wales.  Indeed, Police and Crime Commissioners have access to a £68 million funding pot from the Ministry of Justice specifically to fund practical and emotional support services for victims in their area.  Just 0.25% of that funding is spent on supporting victims of this nuanced and complex crime.

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German and Brinton stand up for victims on Worboys release

The release of serial rapist on parole after serving just 10 years has shocked many. Marina Hyde put it particularly well in the Guardian:

In technical terms Worboys has “paid his debt to society”. And yet, that doesn’t feel like quite the right analogy. I prefer to think that he’s been permitted to declare himself bankrupt to avoid paying said debt, and will be trading again in haste most unseemly to his creditors.

Merely out of interest, I wonder which sex offender treatment programme Worboys could have undergone inside in a manner that would have satisfied the parole board? I mean, I don’t want to put a downer on his X Factor journey here, but the main one used in England and Wales was scrapped last year after prisoners who had completed it were more likely to offend again than those that hadn’t. Well … there you go.

Yesterday a statement was made in the House of Lords Mike German replied for the Liberal Democrats:

My Lords, I too express great gratitude from these Benches for the Statement from the Government today, which gives an absolute expression of sympathy for those who have been affected by this case. Because there has been an obvious breakdown in the structure and systems of criminal justice which we are talking about, I wonder whether an apology on behalf of the Government would have been more appropriate at this point.

The Statement we have just heard raises a significant number of issues, many of which link back to legislative processes and rules which have developed over recent decades. Therefore, an understanding of the scope of the review will be necessary to give confidence to the many people who are feeling pain, misery and disgust at what they have seen in recent days. If we are to assuage them and to bring appropriate satisfaction to much of our society, we need to look carefully at the scope of this review.

As the Statement itself expresses it, we are told that the review will answer issues in these two areas: first, transparency in the process for parole decisions and, secondly, how victims are appropriately engaged in that process. This is indeed a focus of public concern at present but behind it lies a set of deeper and wider issues which have been thrown up by this case. We need to ensure that we see a review that touches all these issues if we are to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion to a much deeper issue than that reflected in the Statement. An example which has been thrown up by this case is indeterminate sentences. Nine hundred people were expected to get indeterminate sentences, but by 2012, when they were abolished, 6,000 people had received such sentences. Will the Minister tell us whether there is pressure on the parole system to clear this backlog which has affected the way in which it has dealt with these cases? We need some reassurance on that, not just those of us in this Chamber but the public as well.

Public confidence in the justice system has already been alluded to, particularly in the CPS and the role it played in reducing the number of cases brought to prosecution. It is essential that the public know why that was the case and the impact it has had on the victims and alleged victims who have been so hurt in recent days.

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Autumn Budget – what our Spokespeople say

The Lib Dems have been hot off the mark with what this Autumn Budget doesn’t do.  Here are 7 failures.

And leading Lib Dems have been speaking out about what the budget really means:

Leader of the Lib Dems Vince Cable MP says

Each person in Britain is set to be £687 worse off per year compared to forecasts before the election.

And as living standards are squeezed, the Government is setting aside £3.7bn to cover the cost of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The Chancellor found more money in the Budget to plan for Brexit than he did for our struggling NHS, schools and police.

Liberal

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Victory for Liberal Democrats in fight to strengthen Victims’ Code

The Government has agreed to back Sal Brinton’s calls for a strengthened Victims’ Code following a hard fought campaign by our Party President.

During ping-pong of the Policing and Crime Bill the Government made concessions on the principles of Sal Brinton’s amendments which put the discretionary Victims’ Code on to a statutory footing. The current situation sees thousands of victims let down every day because of inconsistent and unenforced practice by those in the criminal justice system.

The Government has now agreed to a review of support for victims reporting back within six months, including consultation with victims groups and others. It also agreed to strengthen, through legislation, anything necessary for the agencies dealing with victims to ensure they fulfil their duties, are appropriately trained and monitored in the delivery of their support for victims.

Sal Brinton said:

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Brexiters have nowhere to hide on crime, policing, terror and intelligence

With the Brexit debate currently focusing on the question of trade, Brexiters are able to wrongly claim that the UK would enjoy better trade agreements outside the EU, sooner or later. This exercise in hand waving complacency is not available when it comes to our security.

This is not just about the European Arrest Warrant, responsible for the

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Carmichael on crime figures: Preventing violent and sexual crime needs to be the priority

Remember the incredulity of many women when George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement that the “Tampon Tax” was a bad thing, and he was very sad that he couldn’t do anything about it, but he’d put the money it raised to women’s charities, like refuges Holly Baxter summed it all up very nicely in a piece in the Independent at the time. 

Give a woman a tampon and she’ll use it for free; teach a woman to pay tampon tax and she won’t even cost anything extra to the state when she gets raped, attacked or laid off at work.

So if you’re a woman escaping from an abusive relationship in the Chancellor’s Britain, you can now pay for your own counselling through the redistribution of an unfair tax on your sanitary products. Isn’t that just perfect? It has a beautiful circularity, kind of like the menstrual cycle itself.

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Voting with the government to opt-in to Prum

Politicians tend to disagree with one another on a lot of issues – luckily, catching criminals is not one of them. That is why the Liberal Democrats will be voting with the Government on the decision to opt-in to Prum: an EU process which allows member states to quickly exchange DNA, fingerprint and vehicle information in order to identify and catch serious criminals and terrorists.

The last time this decision was put in front of Parliament during the Coalition the Liberal Democrats couldn’t agree to it. At that point there were still millions of innocent people on DNA databases and schoolchildren were having their fingerprints taken in schools. The Freedoms Act 2012 put a stop to this, and with the additional safeguards the Home Secretary is proposing we can support opting-in to Prum this time round.

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Opinion: Are we transforming rehabilitation?

On Tuesday the London ‘Standard’ had the depressing headline “Rioters in new crime wave”. According to official statistics 1593 of the 3914 people charged or cautioned by the Met following the riots in August 2011 have since reoffended.

At our Autumn Conference in the month following the riots, I raised concerns as a Haringey magistrate that a knee-jerk approach was being taken to sentencing, with courts sitting overnight, dishing out custodial sentences as fast as they could. Prisons became overcrowded, sometimes with three prisoners sharing a cell meant for one; and precious little rehabilitation was going on.

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Opinion: Crime and Criminal Justice – Doing what works to cut crime

Scales of Justice - Some rights reserved by CitizensheepThe criminal justice system is a vital front-line public service, one that most people think they will never come into contact with.  Yet any one of us could be a victim of crime.   Any one of us could be falsely accused.  The Liberal Democrats in coalition deserve credit for bringing crime down to an all-time low but it is still too high and must be reduced.

At conference in Glasgow, the Federal Policy Committee will present its policy paper Doing what Works to Cut Crime.  It is the result of work carried out by a policy-working group I chaired over the last twelve months.

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Opinion: Crown Prosecution Service is wrong not to prosecute undercover police officers

It is now widely-known that the Metropolitan Police Force has engaged numerous undercover police officers in covertly infiltrating various organisations which ‘might be’ dangerously subversive over many years. Several such officers have’deepened’ their cover by forming sexual and emotional relationships with memebers of the organisations concerned and have even brought up young children in these circumstances: two such officers have now been named in court proceedings and the existence of almost a dozen others has been acknowledged.
Although private civil prosecutions are proceeding against both individuals and the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service has recently published statement that there is not sufficient evidence to obtain a reasonable chance of a successful prosecution in a prosecution for ‘misconduct in public office’ and a number of other potential offences.
Much of the evidence of the women concerned is already in the public domain and it is totally clear (and not contested) that there was no possibility whatsoever that they would ever have commenced any sexual ‘relationship’ (sic) with any person who revealed to them that they were a member of a clandestine police surveillance unit. It is also clear that there was no reason whatsoever why the police officers involved ‘needed to’ form such ‘relationships’ in order to continue to perform their covert work. The formation of such ‘relationships’ although they may well have deepened the ‘cover’ and ‘trust’ in which the officers were held, was created by the police officers concerned for their own comfort, convenience and sexual gratification after manifesting to the women concerned, over a prolonged period and in a sustained way, the premise that they had a genuine wish to create a genuine relationship with them. This latter premise is demonstrably-false:the entire persona presented to the women by each of the officers concerned was a deliberate deception. They knew that no such relationship could be sustained once the truth emerged.
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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.

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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

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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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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarsuzanne Fletcher 20th Aug - 6:47pm
    @George Potter. Yes it is long, but no way were we going to be the people to say that some bits did not matter !...
  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 20th Aug - 6:39pm
    @Peter Martin Hi Peter, Thank you for your comments. For the sake of clarity, are you the same Peter Martin who commented last year on...
  • User AvatarMichael 1 20th Aug - 6:14pm
    @Mark Seaman The point about car manufacture is that it requires a large investment in a plant. So there tends to be one (or two)...
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 20th Aug - 6:06pm
    With apologies to Suzanne and LD4SOS, my understanding is that their amendment is 3 pages long. In all my time in the party I have...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 20th Aug - 5:53pm
    @ Grahame Evans, Yours is a rather convoluted argument. Low interest rates and a lowish exchange rate are a sign of weakness in an economy...
  • User AvatarPeter Hayes 20th Aug - 5:24pm
    I agree with Martin, the summary is useful. If you read ConsevativeHome and LabourList BTL you see that our comments are relatively moderate! Labour has...