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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tories and the vigilante state

Whatever David Cameron does to make the Tories look more modern they just cannot help themselves in reverting to type especially when it comes to law and order.

One of the initiatives announced at the Tory Conference this week is to give more power to the Police to alert communities to dangerous criminals in their midst. Somehow blaming the Human Rights Act, Dominic Grieve, said: "Under Labour, the rights of criminals have been put before the rights of law-abiding citizens. A Conservative Government will free the police, probation and prison services to name offenders where necessary in order to protect the public and prevent crime."

What is not clear is when exactly that becomes necessary. As Justice Secetary, Jack Straw said: "The outcomes of court cases are already on the public record. Courts are open so that justice can be seen to be done. Police are able to use this information to inform the public, and regularly make announcements about wanted criminals."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "As the Conservatives well know, there is nothing in the Human Rights Act that prevents Crimewatch being aired or the identification of dangerous offenders at large.

"It is a thoroughly good idea to provide reassuring guidance for the police service but a thoroughly bad idea to perpetuate dangerous myths about the law to grab headlines at a party political conference."

So what this proposal amounts to is either a bit of populist fluff to appease the Tory faithful or a real suggestion that once they have served their sentence, criminals will be hounded from community to community and not given a chance to reintegrate and reestablish their life.

It is a sure fire way to encourage reoffending and promote vigilanteism. It is a disturbing glimpse of a future Tory state.
It's a future Conservative government, not a future Tory state.
It should also be noted that they endorsed the Human Rights Act almost in the same breath, something which surprised me.
If the Tory government persist with this idea they will lost my, and 1000s of other people's votes. It will encourage a vigilant state and if prisoners have served their punishments they should be allowed to get on with their lives without fear. The same applies to their friends and familes who will be helping with the rehabilitation of the prisoners. We are talking here of 1000s of people because the numbers affected can be counted over many years - not just the present prison numbers.
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