James Forsyth

The coalition is out of touch on crime

The coalition is out of touch on crime
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The coalition talks a lot about reducing the number of short criminal sentences. But this talk ignores just how liberal the sentencing regime already is. Just take this case reported on page 31 of the Evening Standard yesterday, a placement which suggests that it is far from unusual.

'At Finsbury Park station Ali, who had drunk a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey in Trafalgar Square with Jamil that night, aimed a punch at Mr Sanson over his girlfriend's shoulder. Miss Le Doussal turned around to ask what was going on, only for Ali to punch her in the face, leaving her with a black eye.

Fellow passenger Daniel Hurley stepped in to remonstrate but as the argument spilled out onto the platform, Jamil punched him in the temple, knocking him to the floor. Jamil then aimed a kick at his head, while Ali kicked him in the legs. Mr Hurley later received hospital treatment before being released.”

The court also heard that a witness had heard Jamil say, ‘Is he dead? I’m glad he’s dead?’ as station staff went to help one of the victims.'

Now, one would expect those guilty of this kind of behaviour to be sent to jail. But instead these two 19 year olds have been given a suspended sentence, a curfew and community service.

Further evidence that the coalition is out of touch on these matters comes in a report from HMIC on anti-social behaviour. Its survey found that 48 percent of people avoid certain streets because they do not regard them as safe. When almost half the population regard places as no-go areas then something is very wrong.

The coalition has one policy that will help massively, elected police commissioners. A democratically accountable head will force the police to concentrate on the crimes that bother people and stop the police from surrendering control of the streets. But there’s a danger that this beneficial change could be undermined by the coalition’s desire to send even fewer criminals to prison.