Sunday, September 10, 2006

Stop the "Get Out of Jail Free" Card Says Gale

North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has this weekend expressed concern at new sentencing rules from a Government quango that could mean shoplifters will never face the threat of jail.

The Government-appointed Sentencing Guidelines Council is consulting on new guidelines for courts to follow. Under one option, shoplifters will never be jailed unless they commit an ‘aggravated’ offence, such as involving violence or using children. Under the other option, shoplifters would not face any custodial sentence unless they were ‘seriously persistent’.

Last year, retail crime was estimated to cost businesses £2.1 billion a year, but this figure is thought to under-estimate the full extent, due to under-reporting by shops.

Speaking in his constituency Roger Gale said:

“I think the public will be concerned that a Government body is seriously suggesting those who steal from shops should never be jailed. Such a ‘get out of jail free’ card sends the wrong signal to would-be thieves and gives the green light to more crime across (area). Small firms are the hardest hit by theft, and we all pay the cost in the form of higher prices in shops.

“Certainly, community sentences or fines may be appropriate for some offenders. But a jail sentence must remain as both a deterrent and a punishment for persistent shoplifters. I fear that the Labour Government’s policy of releasing convicted prisoners early, or not sending them to prison at all, is undermining confidence in our criminal justice system.”


DrMoores said...

The Sentencing Guidelines Council, based in London, issues sentencing rules on the length and severity of punishments for crimes for courts in England and Wales. The quango was established by the Government under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and is appointed by or in consultation with the Government.

It published a consultation paper on shoplifting on 24 August 2006.

The consultation ends on 24 November.

It proposes two options for convicted shoplifters whose offence is not ‘aggravated’ by violence, abusive behaviour, or using children to commit the crime (i.e. a ‘standard offence’):

1. No jail sentences
“The first option would limit the extent to which previous convictions could have an impact. It would mean that a standard offence would never attract more than a community order” (para 98).

2. Only jail sentences for seriously persistent offenders
“The second option controls the effect of previous convictions to a lesser degree and allows for a custodial sentence for a standard offence when committed by a ‘seriously persistent’ offender” (para 101)… ‘A ‘seriously persistent’ offender should be one who has already offended on several occasions and continues to offend despite attempts at rehabilitation and deterrence” (para 107).


The total estimated cost of crime to the retail sector was £2.1 billion last year, an increase of £420 million (9 per cent) on the year before.

Source: British Retail Consortium press release, Retail Crime Survey, October 2005.

The Consortium added,

“these figures, good or bad, do not reflect the true extent of retail crime. Many smaller retailers don’t bother reporting these incidents because they think it’s a waste of time – the police won’t or perhaps can’t do anything. Retailers must be reassured that the police take retail crime as seriously as any other form of criminal behaviour but they will only believe it when they see it happen.”

Dane Valley Ted said...

It might seem simplistic, but why not have a seperate instant court
like they do in America.
If someone is convicted then a fine of 100 times the cost of the goods is incurred,payable on the spot or else the culprit would be held in custody until it is paid.
50% of the fine would be given to the shop in damages and the other 50% could be used to pay court costs and upkeep of a small cell block to house them until all monies are paid.
Using your figures this method will more than pay for itself.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand Roger's lack of consistency.
A few weeks ago he was supporting the "hug a hoodie" scheme, now he supports jailing shoplifters, a good proportion I bet will be those same hoodies.
Personally I'd bring back flogging or some other uncomfortable real punishment but then I don't have to win or retain votes from pinko liberal (with a small l) voters, who are apparently most of the voters in the country, whichever party they vote for.
It is only when someone is a victim of crime themselves that they support proper punishment - so with the rising level of crime in Thanet/Britain as a whole we will probably see a hardening of the public's attitude .
Roger, just be consistent! I have a suspicion that your voters would want you to take a hard line on crime.

James Maskell said...

The hoodie speech wasnt about ignoring crime. It was talking about understanding why these hoodies go out and cause crime to begin with...what turns them to crime. Nothing in that speech has said that we should be soft on crime. I dont see any inconsistency at all, and Im not saying this because Im a Tory. There just isnt any conflict between understanding what causes crime and being tough on those who cause it.

For example hoodies who go out and cause crime tend to come from poorer backgrounds or from broken homes. So whilst still punishing those who cause the crimes, you work towards dealing with the underlying problem. There was no indication of a softening position on punishing criminals.

Anonymous said...

James - I am pleased to see that you approve of the aims of the Surestart Initiative which has been started to tackle the underlying cuases of problem teenagers at an early age.
Surestart has been very active in the Margate area although it is far too early to really know how successful it is.

James Maskell said...

I support the aims of Surestart. I have worries that the Surestart scheme will become bureaucratised (if such a word exists) and will become detached from the areas in which it was set up to help. For example, I dont want to see the Margate Surestart losing effectiveness because its not relevant to Margate and ultimately fails to really do the job justice. Each area must keep it local. Central diktat rarely works.

Quarterdeck and Revolution work really well in keeping young people off the streets. I remember at a Thanet Local Board when a speaker talked about the youth groups being set up and the facilities letting the kids just hang about playing pool or whatever. These facilities do work and they dont cost a fortune to set up and run. Surestart can definitely help if done properly, but it cant do it all by itself.

Anonymous said...

" but it cant do it all by itself. "

Indeed it cant it must have the support of at least the Local Authority,,I am afraid I have observed very little support from TDC for this and other initiatives, to give you and other readers an idea of the level of support to be expected, when on a tour of Island 'facillities' on arrival at Surestart in Millmead Road the previous Deputy Leader was heard to comment " I'm not going in there,,,,,,I dont beleive in this sort of thing"
I am afraid I have not observed any change of thinking since Cllr Bayford ceased to be Deputy Leader.


James Maskell said...

Its up to each person as to how they feel about it. The public can decide for themselves as to whether they agree with each persons feelings on Surestart.