Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Different Path

Increasing the maximum sentence to four years for possession of a knife is on the agenda again, but is it just tough talk by this government? Even the youngsters themselves are saying compulsory jail sentences are required. It would appear that cautions are still likely to be administered.

I watched Panorama last night where some young knife offenders spoke honestly about their crimes. They were all behind bars for offences ranging from Murder to GBH. None of them looked happy to be there. Would a mandatory jail sentence for possession of knives deterred some of them from carrying and thus acted as a preventative measure? Only they can say.

I speak as one who used to carry a knife myself as a sixteen year old for a short time. Did you really think Stressedoutcop was the product of a middle class upbringing? I'm not - and am the only male adult in my immediate family who does not have a criminal record. So how did this law abiding person end up with a knife?

I was out with two friends away from our usual area, when we were confronted by a local group of about ten lads. We were not out for trouble, and if we'd had mobile phones or Ipods in those days no doubt we would have been relieved of them. My friends scarpered - I stayed and took a right good beating - it wasn't nice. I think this group were well known locally and arrests were made, but it was squared away as just a fight. You know one onto ten.

I was offered a knife by a friend and for a few weeks afterwards I carried it, just in case. I was young and stupid, but if I'd thought for one minute I'd end up in jail I would never had done so. Things could have turned out differently for me, but I was lucky. If I had got caught, no whinging, you are the driver of your own destiny and take the consequences. So I wouldn't have ended up a policeman and would probably have done a full stint in the military.

Which leads us onto what can and should be done. If the government is going to talk tough re sentencing over knives it must follow through with action. There should be a presumption that a short custodial sentence will be administered, unless exceptional circumstances apply. It will have a massive impact on some youths but eventually the message will get through. You might actually stop a few going onto ruin not just their life but someone else's too.


Officer Dibble said...

Despite all the Government talk the presumption is always the opposite.A custodial sentence will not be administered unless exceptional circumstances apply.

Jan said...

Subject: Help requested


I work for a small national kids charity: web site: www.fairplayforchildren.org

We've been active in child protection over some years, and we are increasingly concerned at people such as the 'spiked' set up who run down CRB and the new Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act.

Their line is that so much checking is over-reaction, nanny state etc. Our view is that such checks help protect kids by helping to weed out those that are known.

We cite the case of David Lawrence, known to the Avon and Somerset force, who was a junior soccer ref and coach and known to them over many years for a string of complaints etc. Eventually in the late 90s he was finally prosecuted, 12 specimen charges, 3 withdrawn, convicted on nine, came out of jail November 2002 and by March 2003 in another junior league which was not accessing CRB checks at that time. (We came across him as we took part in a Home Office pilot which undertook police checks for voluntary groups - VOCS - so we were asked by the first league to run check on him in 1997 along with 49 other ref/coaches and he came up as 'soft intel' so the league removed him from access a full 18 months before he was finally arrested after years of police concern, which they had until VOCS been unable to share.)

My query is this. Serial paedophiles like Lawrence operate over many years - in fact he was put away again for further offences which came to light, from the Isle of Man in 1975, so he was active over 22 years at least. Lawrence was charged with 12, sentenced for 9. But what I am asking is, does anyone have any idea how many kids such people may involve and abuse. I would hazard an educated guess that Lawrence abused FAR more than have ever come to light. Those who saw the C4 doc 'Chosen' recently may see how and why this happens, a very brave set of people to tell it now.

I will guarantee that no names or towns/forces will be revealed, and if anyone wants to send a 'blind' email which I cannot trace, fine. I don't want names of offenders but "X was convicted for 7 but we are sure he involved at least ... number of kids over xxx years"

The end result - an article to be released to counter these idiots.

ANY help, including passing this mail on, very welcome.


Jan Cosgrove [mr]
National Secretary