Monday, 15 February 2010

Victims of Crime, the Convenient Criminal ........

Labour government policies have broken Justice in Britain to create a new Criminal Class - the Convenient Criminal.

You won't find this Convenient Criminal classification in any Government or Police figures or reports.  But both know of these innocent victims of crime whose world is turned upside down as they are criminalised instead of the criminal. Innocent but very convenient as their criminalisation helps meet Labour's police 'targets.

Who are these Convenient Criminals? and why were they 'Convenient' ? Labour policy created them and this is what happened to people who were turned into Convenient Criminals. (events verified by independent witnesses.)

1.   26 year old male, (College sports coach) having a quiet drink with friends is hit in the face by a glass thrown during a fight which erupted at the other end of the pub. Bleeding heavily he is taken outside as police and ambulance are called. Those involved in the fight leave - they know the police are coming. Victim sits on the pavement waiting for ambulance.

Police arrive but the fight is over and nobody to arrest, that's bad news for the officers as with no criminal apprehended they fail the targets set by the Government. They walk out to the victim and this is where he became a Convenient Criminal.

In shock from his wounds and the heavy bleeding he loudly asks the police 'Where's the f***ing ambulance got to?'. Suddenly the police can, and do, issue a Fixed Penalty for a Section 5 Public Order Offence for his swearing and bingo their targets are met. Crime reported, officers attend and a fixed penalty ticket issued. Ticks all the boxes they need for Labour's police targets.

2.   Two young women (19,20). Leaving a nightclub two young women with a male friend sit on a wall to wait for their taxi. A drunk staggers over and starts to pee against the wall next to them. The two girls tell him he is a 'disgusting pig' and to get away.

The drunk then launches an attack on the young man who is knocked to the ground and ends up with a badly cut face and bruising. The girls are screaming, trying to attract help, and shouting at the drunk to stop and go away. They also made the mistake of swearing at him. The drunk finally stops his attack and backs off a few yards.

Police arrive. One police officer tells the violent drunk, now a few yards away, to leave the area. The bleeding victim is helped to his feet and tries to point our his attacker but by now he has already left the scene as instructed by a police officer. Not good for the police who have attended an assault but now have no boxes to tick.

One girl tells the police they are useless and is arrested for a Section 5 Public Order Offence for screaming and swearing at the violent drunk as he assaulted the young man. A female bouncer from the nighclub who has witnessed this rushes across the street and tries to tell the police they have the wrong person. (Captured on CCTV) Police tell her to go away and proceed to issue a Fixed Penalty notice. Another Convenient Criminal without police having to take the time and effort of now trying to find and arrest the violent drunk. Effortlessly ticks all the boxes the officers need ticked for their performance targets while justice is thrown away.

These are not isolated examples so why and how has this happened ?

These, as with so many other Labour policies, have gone badly wrong and the effects are out of control. How much out of control?  There are no statistics, just Silent Victims made into Convenient Criminals through government policy. I'll return to how your help might change this later.

Out of government Labour had pledged to be Tough on Crime and Tough on the Causes of Crime but after becoming the government it soon became clear that it was no more than just talk.

Crime, and especially violent crime, was rising and Labour realised they had to try and do something apart from just sound-bites.

It seems Labour read a lot of books on management and using performance targets to measure achievement. Labour thought it would be a good idea to judge police performance solely on Targets. Set targets to Police Forces (sorry 'Services') to achieve a certain clear-up rate of crime and that would focus them. That sounds reasonable enough at first and politically it seemed a brilliant idea; it gave Labour the control they wanted to direct the police to whichever type of crime was currently embarrassing them. Crime was flourishing under Labour and the police targets were shifted so frequently with every new government pledge that followed a headline news story on a crime that police were pulled from pillar to post.

Labour's Target Culture altered the way that police viewed crime and policing.
Suddenly Chief Constables, faced with a league table of police force performance, saw it was more important to meet clear-up targets than to focus on stopping crimes or to stop people becoming criminals by way of crime prevention. There was no gain or reward for preventing crimes in this new Labour performance culture - the only figures which counted were crime clear-up rates. (How Labour changed the way that crimes are Recorded and how a great percentage of crimes no longer appeared in statistics and made it look as if crime was reducing is something for another day)

The target culture was in place and Officers were given their targets. Promotion and even bonuses suddenly depended on meeting targets.

The rot started there. Meeting targets became a greater priority than ensuring and delivering Justice and the concepts of justice began to erode and decay. Not in all officers but for many, acting as directed, justice had to be a secondary matter to meeting their targets.

Suddenly onto the scene came Labour's new concept of Fixed Penalties for minor criminal offences. It would, they said, 'free up' the load on the Justice system but not damage Justice as a person receiving a Fixed Penalty could always elect to go for trial rather than pay the penalty. (The fact was the justice system was becoming overloaded through the botched 'reforms' of it that Labour forced through with little understanding of the consequences).

At first glance Fixed Penalty might seem a reasonable concept, police catch a criminal and give them a fixed penalty for their crime. On closer examination though that is far from the case and it has subverted the basic concepts of Britain's Justice system where for hundreds of years it is the Courts who have decided innocence or guilt and the police who provided the evidence for the Court. Suddenly the police, at very junior level, were given the power to be Judge and Jury. It was a step too far and the consequences are far-reaching.

Of course the recipient of a Fixed Penalty can always choose to go to Court instead, but the system was carefully weighted by the government to make that the least likely course. Cost and uncertainty were the stick and the carrot was the fact that the Fixed Penalty would not show as a Criminal Record but an unsuccessful challenge to it would.

Such a simple approach to ensure compliance and payment rather than challenge. Pay your fixed penalty of £80 and No formal Criminal Record - leaving the police able to claim a crime clear-up. Or take the risk and challenge it in court where not only will it cost you many hundreds of pounds for lawyers and lost earnings (as opposed to just £80)  but if you lose - as the innocent more often than not fear they will - then you will get a criminal record.

What better way to make sure that someone would not, even when innocent, challenge the system and what better way to increase the number of  crime 'clear-ups' that Labour desperately needed and craved for to try and show the public they were effective on crime. Years ago that type of choice was called 'Hobsons Choice' - that is No Choice.

But it has damaged Justice, it has damaged the concept of Justice held by the police and public and it has created an army of Convenient Criminals. That must change and must be rebalanced so that the guilty are punished and the innocent stay free. It must be based on that simple concept of Justice for all, not the convenience of fixed penalty tickets to meet government desires to give the impression of catching criminals.

To change that we need Your Help to gather more evidence, more examples of genuinely innocent people who have been turned into Convenient Criminals by these simply bad Labour policies.

That is where I hope you may be able to help.
Do you know of someone who was, or were you the victim and yet ended up with a fixed penalty ticket?

If so these are the criteria we need to meet:
1.  Was the person a genuine victim of crime ?;
2.   Was the victim (or bystander) issued with a Fixed Penalty Ticket by police and the criminal unapprehended?
3.   Are there independent witnesses prepared to set out what happened?
4.   Was the penalty paid rather than go to court?
5.   Are they / you prepared to be interviewed on camera as part of a non-professional documentary for You Tube and elsewhere ?

If so please post an outline in the comments and we will find a way to get in touch.


ps Future posts researched and in preparation include:

Binge drinking - Blair and New Labour's true legacy.

Crime - it ain't what the Statistics show - it's more than you think !

Crown Prosecution Service - is it Fit for Purpose?

Is the 21st Century Battle set to be for the Survival of Democracy