Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Making the punishment fit the crime

There is a certain disquiet arising out of some of the sentences being handed down in the wake of last week’s riots: we have seen a student, 23, with no previous convictions, jailed for six months after pleading guilty to stealing bottles of water; an entire family turfed out of their home when only the (18-year-old) son had been involved in criminality; and yesterday, two young men (Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan and Jordan Blackshawm) given four years each for attempting to organise a riot on Facebook:
Jordan Blackshaw, 20, set up an "event" called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of 8 August on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of 9 August to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots. The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke. His message was distributed to 400 Facebook contacts, but no rioting broke out as a result.
Conservative MP Gavin Barwell, whose Croydon constituency bore the brunt of the anarchy, said tougher sentences sent a clear message that disorder would not be tolerated. But Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said sentences ‘should be about restorative justice’ not retribution, and he pointed out that some of those convicted had received sentences which would have been different if they had committed the same crime the day before the riots.

When justice is seen to be done, it must also be seen to be proportionate and fair. When it ceases to be perceived as being so, it ceases to be just. This applies equally in leniency as it does in severity: it may be posited that a few years for murder is as offensively disproportionate as six months for stealing a few bottles of water.

One who opposes the four-year Facebook sentences tweeted His Grace last night, pointing out that the perpetrators were just ‘a bunch of kids pissing abt on FB’. In support of the sentences is the assertion that Sutcliffe-Keenan and Blackshawm pleaded guilty to inciting others to a crime which actually carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Although no rioting resulted from their Facebook exhortation, they clearly hoped and intended that there would be. This is not, as some aver, a ‘thought-crime’: a page was set up to incite others to violence. The fact that none ensued cannot be attributed to their virtue.

In a fragmented, pluralist, liberal democracy, it is inevitable that disagreements will arise that derive from different (and sometimes incompatible) conceptions of justice. In the United Kingdom, this has been constructed upon the Judaeo-Christian moral tradition which appeals to a set of first principles which provides justification for particular moral claims. In the conflicts between rival points of view, appeals to the primary precepts of the natural law seem to take their place as no more than the expression of one more contending standpoint. Because each of these contending points of view has within it its own standards and mode of justification, there appear to be no common, shared standards sufficient to decide between such rival claims.

While uniformity and consistency are desirable, society is perpetually changing and context shifting. If a state of war is sufficient for the UK to invoke the death penalty for treason, then civil disorder or the threat thereof must constitute just reason for more severe punitive responses than would be meted out during peacetime. The theory of law and jurisprudence must be based upon practical reason and subject to rational enquiry.

For His Grace, the four-year sentences handed down to Sutcliffe-Keenan and Blackshawm were fair, proportionate, and wholly justified. They intended to damage property, cause misery and inflict suffering upon innocent, law-abiding people, and that must merit a custodial sentence.

But in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, justice may be tempered by mercy. So it would be perfectly fair and wholly justified for the convicted pair to appeal, in accordance with the principles of natural justice, in order that another judge on another day may entertain arguments of mitigation in a time of relative tranquillity. And His Grace can’t say fairer than that.

61 Comments:

Blogger John said...

The shame will be in a few weeks when the "not so Bloody Assizes" revert to the namby pamby liberal justice skewed in favour of the criminals.

17 August 2011 at 10:09  
Blogger tangentreality said...

Certainly, in my experience thus far, it is a small but very vocal Leftist minority which are complaining about the 'severity' of the sentences being handed down. Most people seem to be perfectly happy that stern sentences are being given, and so am I. It's about time, frankly. Maybe this will make people think twice before committing criminal offences.

17 August 2011 at 10:14  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Populist, knee-jerk justice at the behest of a potato-headed twit with delusions of statesmanship.

17 August 2011 at 10:32  
Blogger Josh VB said...

It's worth comparing what sentences these people are getting for a spur-of-the-moment decision to steal a few pounds worth of stuff, with politicians who, after much thought and planning, stole tens of thousands of pounds worth of stuff and ended up with at most a few months in prison.

It is justice like this that is likely to lead to the next riot.

17 August 2011 at 11:09  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

When the authority of the state (the kids who piss about in Parliament) is challenged, no sentence can be too severe. When the kids are not gripped by fear, no sentence can be too lax.

17 August 2011 at 11:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

“But Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said sentences ‘should be about restorative justice’ not retribution, and he pointed out that some of those convicted had received sentences which would have been different if they had committed the same crime the day before the riots.”

Should it be about ‘restorative justice’ and not retirbution?

Is not ‘restorative justice’ another hurdle that is caculated to prevent (or at least delay and therefore deny justice) that the wounded victim must overcome before she does receive justice?

Our forefathers developing the criminal law on the basis of Judaeo-Christian values would have rejected the very idea of ‘resorative justice’.

If the State fails to exercise retribution then the concept of just desert is abandoned and our nation’s moral collapse will be all the more difficult to recover. In my opinion I do not believe that this nation can recover its moral integrity unless there is a Christian revival. If there is not I honestly can see the State becoming more authoritarian as it will be left with no other option.

The ‘choice’ is clear either a Christian revival or the Identity Papers.

This country’s constitution was based on the ‘gentlmen’s agreement’. Blair and Campbell successfully called the ‘constitution’s bluff’. Its pillars have coallpsed. Its cornerstones are to be found in the rubble on the streets of Brixton.

A ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ requires high moral standards; faithfulness; honest dealing and promises kept – it survived for three centuries because people acted (and were expected to act) on the basis of Judaeo-Christian values. Without a revival of those values we cannot govern. Government can only direct. We will soon no longer be a free people.

It is interesting that Brake says the sentences would have been “different if they had committed the same crime the day before the riots”. The fact is the context had changed to one of seriouis outbreaks of civil disorder. What he wishes for is facts substituted for fiction. That is unacceptable.

Never ever let a libreal anywhere near governing this once great people.

17 August 2011 at 11:23  
Blogger Jonathan Hunt said...

I feel that these gormless mugshots are becoming a 'source of innocent merriment' ... in the words of that very humane Mikado

17 August 2011 at 11:58  
Blogger bluedog said...

'an entire family turfed out of their home when only the (18-year-old) son had been involved in criminality'. This is insanity, Your Grace.

By all means apply the law with full force to the individual and if seen fit, withdraw benefits from the transgressing individual too. But when the State resorts to collective punishment of the individual's family, things go horribly wrong. The chest-thumpers who devised this polcy show a total lack of imagination. It astounds this communicant that those who claim to support family life can end any chance of family life by destroying a home that will have been built up with love and care by a single parent (mother). By the mindless act of eviction the State destroys her life's work and completely undermines her authority. Her capacity to influence her miscreant child by claiming that society is 'good' is proved to be a false promise.

Your communicant posted on this matter over the weekend and now notes there is a good article in LRB making the same point.

Link: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2011/08/16/john-perry/council-housing-isnt-welfare/

The political elite seem totally devoid of common-sense.

17 August 2011 at 12:24  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Bluedog is right. It is insanity.

Will the proposal to evict such tenants also apply to those involved but who own their homes?

Many of your posters ask the question where do they go?

That is a responsible question to ask.

The reason why some cannot answer that question is because the wrong sanction (civil) is being proposed to apply to a criminal law problem.

The answer is clear: those austere places without TV, Internet, mobile phones; where hard work, iron discipline, and punishment are the norms: prison.

When you destroy an entire generation’s inheritance to the moral strictures of their forefathers then, you must expect anarchy and you must be prepared to build more prisons.

17 August 2011 at 12:52  
Blogger The Justice of the Peace said...

Justice and sentencing like much human activity can vary from one extreme to another. Sentences can be argued from basic moral principle to "effects on victims". Judges and Sentencing Councils are not immune. The following judge`s statement prior to sentence at Manchester yesterday might be of interest.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2011/12.html

17 August 2011 at 12:52  
Blogger Jim McLean at Acoustic Village said...

It is foolish to assert that some sentences are not reflective of the situation or that they are disproportionate. Every sentence issued in a court takes circumstance and context into consideration. There is no tarif for "stealing a telly"...it has to be seen in context.
The context of the recent week is so horrifying that swift and extreme punishments are needed in order to nip this in the bud. Think of the livelihoods and lives of the victims.

17 August 2011 at 13:04  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Thank you JP.

Here are a few paras. from the judgment:

The people of Manchester and Salford are all entitled to look to the law for protection and to the courts to punish those who behaved so outrageously. It would be wholly unreal therefore for me to have regard only to the specific acts which you committed as if they had been committed in isolation. In my judgment it would be a wholly wrong approach to take the acts of any individual participant on their own. Those acts were not committed in isolation and, as I have already indicated, it is a fact which substantially aggravates the gravity of this offence. The court has to pay regard to is the level and nature of the criminal conduct that night, to its scale, the extent to which it was premeditated, the number of persons engaged the events of that evening and finally, in the context of the overall picture, the specific acts of the individual defendant.

In my judgement the context in which the offences of the night of 9th August were committed takes them completely outside the usual context of criminality. For the purposes of these sentences, I have no doubt at all that the principal purpose is that the Courts should show that outbursts of criminal behaviour like this will be and must be met with sentences longer than they would be if the offences had been committed in isolation. For those reasons I consider that the Sentencing Guidelines for specific offences are of much less weight in the context of the current case, and can properly be departed from. I also consider for the same reason that the guideline case on handling stolen goods of R v Webb [2002] 1 Cr App Rep(S) 22 is also of little assistance.

17 August 2011 at 13:07  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

The eviction initiatives are being taken by Councils of all political hues. Tenancy agreements are civil contracts. A tenant can not only be evicted if their children misbehave but also if their visitors are an antisocial nuisance. Each case is considered by a County Court Judge who is required to take account of all relevant submissions and pleas. The question of unfair collective punishment will demand careful deliberation.

I think it unlikely that many evictions will take place on the basis of a single moment of madness by a child but no doubt the opportunity will be taken to finally get rid of persistent “neighbours from hell” who had involvement in the recent disturbances.

17 August 2011 at 13:08  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Your Grace,

The law must deal with the wrongdoing of those who rioted. With respect to the specific individuals you mention, as you say I expect they would get off with lighter setences on appeal.

This fits into the whole 'broken britain' meme of David Cameron; punishment yes, but also rehabilitation and reform. It is better that those who have committed wrong are

1) Punished (e.g. loss of liberty)

and

2) shown the error of their ways and come out reformed.

Does our current criminal justice system achieve this aim?

17 August 2011 at 13:29  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Twigg asks:

1) Punished (e.g. loss of liberty)

and

2) shown the error of their ways and come out reformed.

Does our current criminal justice system achieve this aim?

1. Unlikely – New Labour failed to build more prisons after they destroyed the younger generation’s sense of right and wrong.
2. 70% of convicts after being released from prison go on to commit crimes. Rehabilitation does not work. Harsh punishment does. For example, the Conservatives under Michael Howerd locked up far more of those convicted – and the crime statistics went into a tail-spin and prisoners claimed that threy could not carry out their ‘profession’.

May I ask why the Left-liberal establishment that has destroyed the younger generation’s sense of right and wrong; did not see this coming?

The answer maybe that the Left-liberal establishment took millions of actions to conceal what was coming.

A correspondent (from New Zealand), listed in a national newspaper, 13 signs that indicated to him as a visitor to Britain of this nation’s moral collapse:

1. Railway waiting-rooms, once cosy and well furnished, are now utilitarian, with furniture vandal-proof and screwed down.
2. Public toilets resemble a prison cell, with everything made of steel.
3. Cricket pavilions now have no glass windows.
4. Children are taken to school by car, for safety’s sake.
5. Shops have a security guard.
6. Bottles of spirits in supermarkets are fitted with a security device.
7. In town centres on Friday and Saturday nights, it is not uncommon to see broken bottles and urination on pavements.
8. Graffiti, the hallmark of decay, appears on any surface within reach.
9. Steel shutters are fitted on ordinary shops, not just jewellers.
10. City-centre churches are converted into nightclubs.
11. Tombstones are desecrated.
12. Litter is everywhere, routinely jettisoned from cars.
13. Lay-bys bear burn marks where joy-riders have torched a stolen car.

17 August 2011 at 13:46  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I once taught in a borstal and attended a course given by the psychologist. She said that we were dealing with children who do not accept the most basic standards of society towards behaving responsibly towards others and who regard successful treachery as an achievement. We have been receiving warnings about the severe breakdown of our society for decades now. This is not a new problem but suggestions that we should bring back religious assemblies in schools or stop advocating recreational sex, or stop lessons about the use of condoms in schools in favour of faithful and loving relationships which involves a measure of penance and self-restraint are roundly condemned. In this country it seems impossible to convince people that the answer to these problems begins with a recognition of God’s authority.

17 August 2011 at 14:11  
Blogger The Justice of the Peace said...

SHACKLEFREE`s comments are generally indisputable except one doesn`t require a belief in a supernatural being for the change of attitude to apply.

17 August 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Justice of the Peace. A change in attitude is certainly required. In theory people should be able to follow a right conscience and at least avoid serious or even moderate disruption. However, we have tried all the enlightened policies for some time now and they appear to remove a sense of responsibility from citizens. I have come to the conclusion that in practical terms we will not see more respect for lawful political authority without respect being given at a higher level to our maker. My opinion for what it is worth, is that these event confirm the doctrine of Original Sin and the reality of the influence of satan in the world.

17 August 2011 at 14:35  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Justice of the Peace

You may reject God (or even eject Him from your heart); but there are thousands of youngsters who have appeared before you - and maybe, just maybe, they might have wanted to hear the following words:


1. Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.
2. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
3. When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother,
4. he taught me and said, Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.
5. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
6. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
7. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you.
9. She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendour.
10. Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
11. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
12. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
13. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
14. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.
15. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.
16. For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall.
17. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
18. The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.


Proverbs - Chapter 4:1-17

17 August 2011 at 14:37  
Blogger Rubati said...

Your Grace,

My post doesn't have any direct bearing on your blog post, but I was just wondering if you might be troubled to add a "search" function on your blog, so that we can search for your past posts? It is a bit tedious to plow through your vast collection of erudition...

17 August 2011 at 14:42  
Blogger The Justice of the Peace said...

D.Singh;
"there are thousands of youngsters who have appeared before you - and maybe, just maybe, they might have wanted to hear the following words:"


The oratory is fine but not in a courtroom.

17 August 2011 at 14:42  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

By your leave.

Mr Justice of the Peace

Love thy neighbour.

‘The rule that you are to love your neighbour becomes in law, you must not injure your neighbour; and the lawyer’s question, Who is my neighbour? receives a restricted reply. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be - persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.’

Lord Atkin, Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562, 580

The oratory is fine; even in a court room.

17 August 2011 at 14:56  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace--thank you for the pictures. I wondered what colour those boys might be.

17 August 2011 at 15:41  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Its the old making an example story, when road rage was all the news, my brother got sent down for 3mths.

When he came out, his son got shot dead and the man who did it got off because he was the son of a chief of police.

Riots?

I will not be happy until the real criminals get dragged out of office kicking and screaming.

Its a pity the closest we can come to it, was these idiots torching and looting local neighbourhoods.

17 August 2011 at 15:58  
Blogger Oswin said...

Testing

17 August 2011 at 16:13  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

I'm still miffed that some MPs got rough justice over the expenses scandal and others got off lightly. Why was buying a duck house any worse than clearing wisteria from your house at taxpayers' expense? David Cameron could well afford to get contractors in to do the garden. Yet he chose to lean on those who had made "unfortunate choices".

As you say, Your Grace, punishment must be even-handed. Two boys in jail for four years yet for similar offences it's slapped wrists.

I'm not happy!

17 August 2011 at 17:04  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

non mouse said...
"Your Grace--thank you for the pictures. I wondered what colour those boys might be.2

White has become Black!

17 August 2011 at 17:09  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

We need to get back to basics, if we are meant to keep the peace then lets see the peace treaty we have with the Crown.

17 August 2011 at 17:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Five people died last week because of the riots and I suppose there could be more bodies in the burned out rubble, there may be something like £200 million of damage, people have lost income, their livelihoods, and in some cases their homes and personal possessions. Those two dickheads intended to start off something similar in the local towns knowing what effect it was having in London but luckily failed. The guilty pleas shouldn't count for much at all because it was hardly something deniable.

17 August 2011 at 17:33  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

The law is not being applied consistently:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/no-court-action-over-vandalism-call-2339428.html

Appeals are going to be interesting.

17 August 2011 at 17:40  
Blogger Dodo said...

Tough, even harsh, but in the circumstances reasonable and fair. And, as you say, there is a right of appeal - if they dare. Sentences can be increased on appeal!

17 August 2011 at 17:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

"Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let the wasps and hornets break through."
Jonathan Swift.
Scurvy Politicians!!
A slap on the wrist for fiddling expenses.
Sgt. Mark Andrews savages a defenceless woman and walks after a few days.
Manchester police stand over a kid while pointing an automatic weapon at his head. Shaven headed thugs (in uniform) look on.
Do we really want the Americanization of our police forces? It seems Dave does with his embrace of William Bratton.
This nonsense has got to stop.

17 August 2011 at 18:05  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

You're on, Oswin; if I can figure this Google account out, anyone in the world can.

MARIANNE FAITHFUL??? Cool, I thought I was the only one in the world left who loves her music and that haunting voice. Saw her live in Toronto... in 1996?... in a mid-sized tavern, backed only by an acoustic guitarist. My wife and I were right in the first row of tables, 10 feet away or so. Wifey didn't know Marianne from Adam and gave me an "oh boy, this'll be lame" look when she came in wearing a conservative outfit, her hair in a bun and granny glasses down her nose. You may well imagine my wife's shock and big smile when M started up with "Broken English." Been to a lots of concerts in my time, this one still tops it, for both of us.

Anyhoo, to at least touch on topic (now that His Grace can hunt us down), I note that this very exercise of opening new accounts here is also an expense due to the overall unraveling of our civil society. I note too that many of the remedies bandied to and fro here and in the media are really unworkable for the simple reason that we can't go back in time. Neither walloping kids at home or in school, stiff sentences for criminals, nor returning to a mostly imagined bucolic era of monocultural social order are going to get off the ground.

I have no great "macro" remedies, but on a "micro" level I can do my bit. For example, if I need services in a city I've never been to, such as packers, movers or mechanics, I'll contact local synagogues and churches. If I need a co-driver for long distance runs, I insist on religious Christian guys, knowing not only that I'll get a clean (literally) and responsible family man, but that I'm unlikely to wind up with a head-banging, chain-smoking, pill-popping, hard-drinking, lot lizzard-seeking party freak. This is how I think social changes can happen in our brave new world; not by legistation, regulation or mega-projects, but by decent people quietly building and expanding decent communities with strong social and commercial links...right under the nose of the great multiculturalist blender machine and while choosing who to socialize with or do business with is still legal.

17 August 2011 at 18:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

What's this ?? Bluedog AND D.Singh asking for clemency...

This intrigued the Inspector and he's had a look at the 1985 Housing Act (Section 85A) to see if the courts would grant an order to throw the family out. IG's verdict - Not a chance.

More's the pity, would have been good for most of the tenants and for the encouragement of the few...

17 August 2011 at 18:14  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Someone has been killed by tazer now in Barrow, what we are getting, trickle by trickle, town by town, city by city, is a Nation waking up to the fact our kith and kin can be bumped off by the Crown, willy nilly.

A Crown that cannot even produce the treaty we are meant to have signed with them.

17 August 2011 at 18:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

Agreeable Justice in the air, and the Howard League Bleeding Hearts Club bang their tamborine...

Let's hope the two virtual rioters reflect on the deaths, injuries and destruction they wanted to buy into.

The Inspector notes that Perry doesn't look at all streetwise. This could cause trouble in prison when the bullies spot him. Happily, the homosexual community will probably take him under their wing. Young Perry may have a new 'attitude' to life on release. Courage lad, courage !

17 August 2011 at 18:29  
Blogger non mouse said...

Making the Punishment Fit the Crime. I dunno, Your Grace. I seem to sense that some people are trying to make the crime fit the punishment.

17 August 2011 at 18:35  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Happily, the homosexual community will probably take him under their wing."

With a beak and ears like that?

17 August 2011 at 18:38  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

IanCad said...

Do we really want the Americanization of our police forces?

Stereotype much? You seem to have a biased view of American Law Enforcement. And your examples of police misconduct seem equally skewed.

carl

17 August 2011 at 18:43  
Blogger IanCad said...

Carl,
American law enforcement is based upon authority and control.
in the UK it has been traditionally based upon persuasion and cooperation.
Perhaps this reflects the fact that the notion of individual liberty is held in somewhat higher regard in the UK than it is in the US.

17 August 2011 at 20:26  
Blogger non mouse said...

IanCad (20:26) ... liberty is held in somewhat higher regard .... Surely that should read "was held." We took the idea of liberty to the US ... where, I agree, it became somewhat degraded by "enforcement" of law.

However, I still think your claim is no longer true: we've been copying foreigners for so long now, that too many Brits are too stupid to know what liberty is or how to practice it. That's why they don't have the sense to fight for it, any more.

17 August 2011 at 20:57  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

IanCad

American law enforcement is based upon authority and control.

So the obvious juxtaposition of 'shaven-headed thugs' and alleged police brutality with 'Americanization of the police force' was simply an unfortunate coincidence? My mistake, then.

in the UK [law enforcement] has been traditionally based upon persuasion and cooperation.

Yes, I am sure my colonial ancestors would agree. In any case, all law enforcement is based upon authority and control because the law and order will be enforced with authority and control should cooperation and persuasion fail. To be able to rely on cooperation and persuasion is not an indication of a higher regard for individual liberty. It is an indication of a well-civilized population that maintains respect for law and order.

carl

17 August 2011 at 21:04  
Blogger IanCad said...

No Carl, you made no mistake at all. Most certainly I meant that shaven headed thugs make up a substantial minority of the US police force.
Of course authority and control are to be used when persuasion fails. It is a sorry fact that many police academies in the US put the emphasis on authority and control first, and it seems that much of the public are quite content with that.

17 August 2011 at 21:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I think most people in the UK still think the police act on our behalf. Except perhaps the road police.

17 August 2011 at 21:24  
Blogger IanCad said...

Non Mouse@ 20:57

Granted that our concepts of liberty have degenerated over the years it has not declined to the degree that it has in the US.

17 August 2011 at 21:47  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Hi Carl,

I'm inclined to agre with Ian on this. The US approach has infected Canada as well. When I came here in the early 70s, our police, our constables as they were still called, operated very much on the British officer model. Clean, tidy and neat in pressed light blue shirts and dark blue ties, red-piped dark trousers with creases you could shave with and shiny boots.

Over the years, the force went more "casual," with baseball caps, combat pants and Rambo attitudes. While they pumped the beleagered protector mime, here in Toronto we were unlucky with two cowardly police chiefs. The provincial one, let the Natives take over private property, allowed them to carry arms and harass non-native neighbours. At the same time, non-natives in the area were barred from couter-demonstrating and were not allowed to fly the Canadian flag so as not to "enrage" the hoodlums. Toronto's police chief oversaw the G20 riots, in which the police stood back and did nothing while a small number of rioters burned down police cars and looted shops. Once the troublemakers disappeared, the police invented arbitrary rules and took it out on peaceful protesters, journalists, ordinary people going to or from work and even children caught in dragnets. Armed to the teeth, in full combat gear, they could be seen throwing passerby to the ground and quite a few deliberately obscured their name and number tags. Regarding the latter, those who were finally identified were not charged or fired, but were deducted a day's pay, which with a wink from their station chiefs and their unions they could make up with extra duty.

The US model, which brought us the shaven-headed scary SWAT lookalike thugs is failing. You can't have a normal conversation with, nor can you respect a hyped comando suffocating under ballistic vests and jangling with all sorts of fancy gewgaws. The new cops no longer scare and have become objects of fear, contempt and open derision. We are told over and over again how dangerous their work is. Yeah, sure, ok, but for example, we truckers have a more dangerous job and we get no taxpayer-funded mile-long funereal poo-bahs when one of our brothers buys it thanks to a negligent four-wheeler. Nor are we allowed to or encouraged to lie to the public and if our identities and documentation are not in order, we're out of a job. I submit to you then, that as things are now, it appears that under the US model, which seems to have taken over everywhere and the ever-more powerful police unions, the police are becoming more and more part of the problem rather than the solution.

17 August 2011 at 22:41  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Avi said "the police are becoming more and more part of the problem rather than the solution." Interesting thought and I think I'm inclined to agree with him. Certainly the trend seems to remove the police further from the people.

17 August 2011 at 22:53  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Avi Barzel said ...
" ... we truckers have a more dangerous job (than the police) and we get no taxpayer-funded mile-long funereal poo-bahs when one of our brothers buys it ...!

Not a very nice sentiment. Think what you like they will have died serving and protecting their community.

And who are the 'Natives' and 'non-Natives'?

18 August 2011 at 00:50  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi Barzel

I'm inclined to agre with Ian on this.

Ian's case amounts to the equivalent of factoids from a MoveOn.org video. Do you think he can justify a statement like:

Most certainly I meant that shaven headed thugs make up a substantial minority of the US police force.

It's one of those non-specific claims that allows credible deniability even as it implies a serious problem. 'Substantial minority' meaning what? 5%? 20%? 30%? It's all left to the imagination of the viewer, and it has no more substance than that.

The US model, which brought us the shaven-headed scary SWAT lookalike thugs is failing.

According to whom? And what is this American model anyways? You live in a little bubble that allowed disarmed police for a while and suddenly you think it is normal. It isn't. As your culture becomes more violent, you aren't going to be seeking after gentleman police officers - especially since you have no means to defend yourselves.

You can't have a normal conversation with, nor can you respect a hyped comando suffocating under ballistic vests and jangling with all sorts of fancy gewgaws.

Yes, actually, I can. I don't fear the police. They are by and large professionals seeking to do a professional job. A bunch of slurs about 'shaven-headed thugs' isn't going to change my mind.

The new cops no longer scare and have become objects of fear, contempt and open derision.

They are shaven-headed thugs who no longer scare but they have become objects of fear? I don't understand this at all. And I don't know what country you are talking about because you are not talking about the US.

Everybody hates the cops - until they need one.

We are told over and over again how dangerous their work is. Yeah, sure, ok, but for example, we truckers have a more dangerous job and we get no taxpayer-funded mile-long funereal poo-bahs when one of our brothers buys it thanks to a negligent four-wheeler.

Neither do you go into dark buildings at night by yourself with a gun and a flashlight. Cops don't often buy it from a negligent four-wheeler. They get shot on a traffic stop.

carl

18 August 2011 at 05:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Neither do you go into dark buildings at night by yourself with a gun and a flashlight. Cops don't often buy it from a negligent four-wheeler. They get shot on a traffic stop."

Not in the UK they don't. One of the reasons is that they don't carry guns for routine work. The other is that most of the population does not have handguns. We're not in an arms race. When one of the police is killed by criminals it's national news for a week over here.

I think you have to recognise that the UK is generally quite heavily populated. If one is 90 minutes away from a police response then owning a gun might be a good idea. I'm potentially several minutes away and I don't even live in a city.

18 August 2011 at 06:45  
Blogger IanCad said...

Carl, your faith in the sweetness of the US law enforcement industry will lead to your losing the few liberties that remain in your land.
Police officers are in a low risk profession. For confirmation of this go to the WA State Dept. of Labour & Industries to see the workman's compensation insurance rates for all occupations.
Steven Greenhut, columnist for The Orange County Register, has a current article decrying the arrogance of law enforcement. Indeed, suggesting that the US is a police state no less!
Avi has nailed it very well regarding the absurd funeral rituals and the assault garb. It's true! they waddle around like knights of old. Completely idiotic.

18 August 2011 at 07:42  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Carl,

Rushing off on errands, so apologies for the raw and scattered post.

You're doing the straw man argument bit with me. Mine is not a diatribe against all police; I'm pointing out unfortunate changes in police attitudes and practices that doen't seem to be working, while you're hyperboling on the "our cops are tops" meme.

This is not a question of "slurs;" Many have seen the quality of recruits dip down precipitously over the years, there are studies on problems with high turnover rates and poor training, and whether you feel comfortable talking to some of them or not is not the point. I too can share a coffee and a chuckle with Mounties or State Troopers, many of whom are decent folk, but many of whom I'd rather not run into on the highways as a "customer."

Of course we all need the police when things go bad; but it's also their job to do their job well, to be more ethical than the rest of us and better than the public in their dealing with people and their knowledge of and adherence to the law.

"Neither do you go into dark buildings at night by yourself with a gun and a flashlight." Goodness, Carl, watch too many old movies? Cops won't go into a "situation" in a daycare centre without a backup, much less dark buildings. Given some of the nutters out there, I don't blame them, btw. But you should see some of the docks we drivers have to pull into at two in the morning or the characters hanging out at some gas stations and truck stops. We got flashlights, but get no backup and a lug wrench is all we get to wave around. The reality is that the heroic acts by some good and brave cops we hear about are, statistically, not much more frequent or remarkable than what you get from the general public.

18 August 2011 at 13:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

IanCad said...

"Steven Greenhut..."

Ah. Now I understand. He's a Libertarian. Suddenly this all makes sense. The hostility to Law Enforcement. The references to losing liberty. The hyperbolic and silly assertion that the US is a police state. It suddenly all makes sense. Ian, you don't actually think the Libertarian Party represents anyone over here, do you?

carl

18 August 2011 at 13:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Avi

You're doing the straw man argument bit with me.

I re-read you comment, and it still seems a general comment about American Police. But I will accept your qualification.

This is not a question of "slurs"

That's why I engaged on the thread - to oppose the unsubstantiated slurs in Ian's initial comment.

Of course we all need the police when things go bad; but it's also their job to do their job well, to be more ethical than the rest of us and better than the public in their dealing with people and their knowledge of and adherence to the law.

I have seen no evidence that they don't do this. At all. Anywhere. What I have seen are references to shaven heads and bullet proof vests and belts and 'thuggery.' I have seen vague allegations of attitude. I have seen no substantiation of these assertions other than a reference to a Libertarian activist in Southern California. I can place my anecdotes against yours. Is either a valid argument?

But you should see some of the docks we drivers have to pull into at two in the morning or the characters hanging out at some gas stations and truck stops.

But you don't have to put yourself in harm's way. If you think it's too dangerous, you can say "I think I will wait." There is a difference between choosing to put yourself in a dangerous situation, and obeying a professional responsibility to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

carl

18 August 2011 at 14:03  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

"just one more thing!"

Bring back Columbo!

18 August 2011 at 17:42  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Team him up with Inspector Cluzo and Dixon of Dock Green. The best from Britain, Europe and USA.

18 August 2011 at 22:04  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

@Man with no name. You call call yourself 'the riddler' with that question mark!

Your proposition reminds me of the 1970s classic 'murder by death' when the world's greatest slueths attend the mansion of lionel twain...

18 August 2011 at 23:00  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Opps, I did of course mean to say you could call yourself.... what a butter fingers I am!

18 August 2011 at 23:01  
Blogger Deadman said...

Recent punishments appear to be divided between custodial sentences or nothing. What’s wrong with sentencing rioters and looters to several thousand hours of community service? Such sentences (even with the necessity to employ more officers to oversee the graffiti-clean-up and the like) would be far cheaper than keeping miscreants in prison, more helpful to the community generally, and exemplary, surely

19 August 2011 at 04:55  
Blogger IanCad said...

Carl wrote:

"you don't actually think the Libertarian Party represents anyone over here, do you?"

Omly those who uphold the Constitutiuon.

19 August 2011 at 07:25  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Ian

The Libertarian Party consists of two basic groups:

1. Libertines who want the gov't to stop interfering with the acquisition of their recreational chemical of choice.

2. Ideological Randians clutching their dog-eared copies of 'Atlas Shrugged.'

It has nothing to do with upholding the Constitution.

In fact, I remember watching the Libertarian Presidential Convention on C-SPAN once. It didn't take very long for me to realize these people should be kept far far away from the levers of power. How seriously can you take a presidential candidate who wants to dismantle the offensive capability of the US Military?

carl

20 August 2011 at 02:49  

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