Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Meeja matters

As Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Home Affairs prefers to take his political guidance from the tabloid press, it is good to see a copper prepared to speak out.

The Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys and the ACPO spokesman on child protection has criticised the goverment for surrendering power to the News of the World. He said that the minister was
'slowly but surely acceding to its requests, and it is wrong to do so... The last three years has been a litany of abandonment of any real strategic design in the Home Office in the management of sex offenders, in favour of trying to find out what one particular tabloid newspaper wants and then complying with their wishes.'
He also told us that five people have been murdered in the US as a result of their details being available on a public register.

In the West Midlands, there's been a response to the earlier decision to remove sex offenders from a number of named hostels close to schools, with residents' groups up in arms about other hostels not similarly restricted but still close to parks and schools - as most buildings in urban areas are. All this is going to lead to released offenders being concentrated in fewer and fewer locations.

There was no need to start this hare running - the problem last week was with the sentencing formula, which clearly needs revising to allow judges to move away from the guidelines in particular cases. Chiefly, the rule allowing a third of the sentence to be deducted for a guilty plea should only be applied where the accused has genuinely saved time, money and above all, the witnesses from an ordeal in the court. When somebody is caught in the act, the judge should be free to disregard the discount.

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