Not Saussure

November 7, 2006

John Reid again; sets up pointless inquiry (but sees sense elsewhere)

Filed under: Law, Politics — notsaussure @ 11:23 pm

John Reid has

ordered an urgent inquiry today into claims that released sex offenders are roaming the streets unsupervised.

The Home Secretary said he wanted to know why a child killer and a paedophile were not properly monitored by probation staff.

Here’s the response from Martin Wargent, chief executive of the Probation Boards Association, which should save Reid the bother of setting up his inquiry:

If you want them under 24-hour supervision, then they should be in prison,” he said.

“People are free to come and go from hostels. It’s a halfway stage between being in prison and being released to the community. To pretend that they are going to get 24-hour supervision, or to believe that, is completely missing the point.”

Mr Wargent added: “It is the Home Office and the Government that decide what the parole system is and they create the legislation.”

In a not unrelated story, The Sun yesterday announced

A WELCOME new era in sentencing will be launched this week.

Paedophiles, rapists and thugs will lose the automatic right to parole after half their sentence. And crooks will no longer get a guaranteed third off their jail time just for pleading guilty.

Home Secretary John Reid’s announcement was sparked by our campaign against liberal judges.

(no, of course I don’t read The Sun; Bystander JP, author of the excellent Magistrate’s Blog does, though).

It is, indeed, a welcome new era in sentencing; if you seek further and better particulars in the more serious papers (well, The Indy), what John Reid’s doing is attempting to undo some of the damage done by David Blunkett’s Criminal Justice Act 2003, when Parliament decided it knew better than the judges how to sentence and promptly demonstrated it didn’t.

Prisoners serving fixed terms for serious offences will no longer be released automatically halfway through their sentence, under reforms to be unveiled by the Government this week.

Instead High Court judges could be given the ultimate power to decide whether a prisoner should be freed at that stage […]

The mooted changes would update the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which introduced automatic release at the halfway stage for fixed-term prisoners, allowing them to complete the rest of their time under supervision from probation officers.

Instead, judges would have powers to overrule early release if they believe an offender has not been rehabilitated and remains a threat to the public.

That is, he’s having to face reality and give sentencing back to those, errm, liberal judges. They do, believe it or not, tend to know a good deal more about criminals and their victims than do most tabloid editors and, indeed, even most MPs (yes, I know, but judges deal with all crimes rather than things like the Sale of Honours) since they spend most of their time dealing with them.

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