This morning the Home Secretary, John Reid, was talking on GMTV about the spate of gang culture and gun deaths in London. Over the last month, 4 people have been killed – 3 of them teenagers and 2 of them in their own homes. Apparently the Prime Minister is meeting with a task force today to come up with ways of tackling the major problem of how to make guns uncool.
As a counterpoint to John Reid, who’s wishy-washy at the best of times and can’t seem to make a convincing argument on anything, GMTV were also speaking via satellite with the former police chief who ran the famous Zero Tolerance campaign in New York city and reduced crime in NY by 48%.
Now this former police chief was articulate, well spoken and made his points concisely and understandably. The chief spoke about Zero Tolerance and how it worked (that ANY crime, from jumping a turnstile to murder to postal fraud had a jail term). Minimum sentences, criminal records and the fact of sending people away from their homes and families was the deterent. He spoke about the intelligence required to locate areas of gang culture and then deploy experienced police officers en-masse to catch these people doing anything illegal. Round ’em up, sort ’em out.
John Reid, in comparison.. well… it was like comparing Michaelangelo with a kindergarden-er doing fingerpainting. Reid said that ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) were instigated to do something similar.
Are you kidding, John?
ASBOs have to be the most ineffectual judicial tool since deportation to the colonies. Intended as a kind of kiddie-probation where recipients are under strict rules and curfews and can be arrested if these are broken – ASBOs have become more like badges of honour amongst unruly British ‘yewf’. They are totally useless in containing gang culture, graffiti, menacing behaviour, robberies or even just keeping kids to a curfew.
To compare ASBOs to NY’s Zero Tolerance scheme is just stupid, John, and you’re insulting the British public by suggesting similarities.
But we can’t expect John Reid to have any idea what to do or how to do it. His department failed to record the details of thousands of British criminals convicted abroad and also failed to enforce travel bans on 147 drug traffickers. His department lost track of 322 registered sex offenders. To ease prison overcrowding, his department advised judges to only issue custodial sentences where public safety is a priority – which is how we got the debacle of serious paedophiles being released on probation with only remand time served.
Wake up and smell the gunpowder, John. Your policies don’t work. It’s time to get tough. Take the NY example and make it your own. (It’s obvious you can’t use their policy – UK prisons are too overcrowded as it is. If we’re letting paedophiles off with a warning then turnstile jumpers don’t stand a chance of being banged up!)
Give the police the power to arrest and charge suspects, give the police more money for recruitment and training – give the police service your full support instead of comments like “Every human organisation has faults.” The police do a bloody difficult job, John – give them the support and powers they need before this sitation gets far far worse…