Are the parties playing politics with crime?
We are in the midst of a general election campaign, so it is perhaps not surprising that ‘law and order’ are featuring in the news as the main political parties fight for the popular vote.
While as a firm, we do not offer any party-political opinion, it is worthwhile taking a brief look at some of the recent announcements and scrutinise the reality of the pledges being made.
The Conservatives propose that where a person aged at least 21 murders a child under 16 years of age the starting point should be a ‘whole life order’. This means that they would never be eligible for parole.
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 already contains measures in this regard. This is, on the face of it, a tightening up of those provisions. It is our assessment however, if enacted this provision is unlikely to impact on more than one or two cases each year.
The Conservatives propose changes to stop and search powers with swift processing of those arrested before the courts. Any changes to stop and search provisions are likely to prove controversial, and there are concerns about whether the current resourcing of the criminal justice system is sufficient to cope with any such radical new initiatives.
The conservatives have already announced the recruitment of 20,000 extra police officers. Some observe that this will not actually replace the number of officer lost since 2010. Further, it is a fair assumption that if this target is reached, and all other things remain equal, more people will be arrested and brought before the courts. Again, some resource implications remain unaddressed in terms of court sitting days and prosecution resources.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged a further £300m for local policing.
The Conservatives have announced further changes to practice and procedure, to make the process more ‘victim-centric’ and transparent.
In addition the Conservatives propose raising the ‘victim surcharge’ by 25%. However, the most recent stories show that such penalties are often remaining unpaid, particularly as they also apply to those serving long custodial sentences.
Is this a ‘Law and Order’ election?
The Conservatives have returned to a traditional ‘law and order’ theme, tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. As well as punishment, there are promises of better prison rehabilitation schemes and more robust non-custodial options.
Other parties do not lead on this issue in quite the same way, but all promise better resourced public services, which inevitably includes policing.
Keeping a watching brief
Whatever laws the next government brings forward, we remain committed to ensuring that the proper rights and protections afforded to all those we represent are safeguarded.
We continue to be vigilant and ensure that any legislative developments that are brought forward do not infringe your fundamental rights and freedoms.
How can we help?
Aside from keeping you informed of developments in the law, we offer a full range of services to our clients in relation to criminal law.
If you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.
We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all football related offences.
Alternatively you can contact us using the form below.