Monday, 26 July 2010

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I wish I could say the outcome of the Tomlinson/G20 investigation surprised me; no charges to be brought against the officer involved. But it did not.

As someone who supports the police in their extraordinarily difficult job (and has been out on patrol with them and seen at first hand the extreme challenges they face) it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain that support when they appear to be above the law.

Time and again an IPCC, CPS, or internal investigation either clears the officers involved, or concludes there is insufficient evidence to warrant further investigations or a prosecution. This damages the police's reputation and harms the public's confidence in them. We need to feel that we are all judged by the same standards and laws and not having these applied differently if you wear a uniform (even if you try to conceal your identity number!). This case has saddened me greatly but that can be nothing compared to the pain and sadness of the Tomlinson family. They tragically join a long list of people who feel denied justice following police action.

This failure to have justice done, or seen to be done, must end. The families involved deserve it, we as citizens deserve it, and the police themselves (many of whom will be equally saddened by these decisions on) deserve it.

Prison works?

Ken Clarke's recent comments in relation to prisons has caused a stir. My view is very clear; there are some crimes that require a prison sentence (to protect the public and punish the perpetrator) and others that do not.

There are too many people in prison for relatively minor offences, who have been in prison before (again for relatively minor offences) and will return again (the re-offending rate for minor offences is very high). The system is clearly not working. We need to break the cycle of re-offending and should focus more attention on rehabilitation of minor crime offenders who we can stop graduating to more serious offences, which going to prison helps them to do.

It is too easy to say Ken Clarke is being soft on crime or too liberal; perhaps we should focus instead on having a genuine debate about how we tackle repeat offenders before it is too late for them, or for us.

Lockerbie bomber and BP

As we approach the first anniversary of the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the circumstances of his release and the alleged involvement of BP has hit the news. Nothing in the eleven months since his release has altered my view that the decision to release him on “compassionate grounds” was a disgrace. As I wrote in August last year; “This stinks. I believe that, as a rule, when someone is guilty of multiple murders they should not be allowed out of prison early. This crime was so heinous that Mr al-Megrahi should die in prison.”

What we need now- as promised by the Prime Minister- is the release of all the materials connected with the decision to free this mass murderer to ensure the whole story of his release is heard. The 270 victims and their families deserve nothing less.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Common sense PM

David Cameron's early weeks as Prime Minister are a pleasing vindication for those of us who voted for him as leader in 2005. Like many, I saw in him a quiet, unstated pragmatism which served my party well and now is turning it's attention to our country.

Witness his comments this week about Raol Moat and his upcoming visit to the United States which shows a man who has a common sense approach to people and life and a strong sense of pride in our country but realism about our place in the world and the state of our society. What a refreshing change after thirteen years of hubris, interntaional grandstanding and self indulegent jumping on tragic band wagons. If this is the new politics, I like it.