The headline reads “’Let Burglars Off With Caution’, Police Told”. It refers to new guidelines for the police in Great Britain that have just been handed down.
Burglars will be allowed to escape without punishment under new instructions sent to all police forces. Police have been told they can let them off the threat of a court appearance and instead allow them to go with a caution.
The same leniency will be shown to criminals responsible for more than 60 other different offences, ranging from arson through vandalism to sex with underage girls.
It’s important to note that these new rules are only iron clad when dealing with new criminals and are up to the officer’s discretion after that. A perp can walk if it is a first offense, while a repeat offender can go home only if he can sweet talk the officer who caught him. But it is also important to note that the Home Office has actually stated that a fair number of serious crimes should be dealt with in this way.
What blows my mind is that a few of the crimes that will get you a Get Out of Jail Free card are violent in nature. The author mentions threatening to kill, common assault, threatening behavior, and even crimes which result in “actual bodily harm”.
It would seem that this move is in response to both social pressure and overcrowding. Lack of space in British prisons have resulted in some criminals being released early, and sex offenders that had been sentenced to life were allowed to go free in a few isolated incidents.
The social pressure is coming from ministers and senior judges that have been urging the courts to send fewer people to jail. It seems that the very idea of prison is now considered to be uncivilized in Britain.
Speaking as someone who actually had something to do with putting a few bad guys in jail, I’d have to say that this is absolutely insane. Official government policy is to not punish new criminals? Yeah, that will let them know that there are consequences for bad behavior!
Those of us interested in self defense have noted how the authorities in Britain are obsessed with banning weapons (and stuff that just kind of looks like a weapon) while doing nothing to reduce violent crime. Some pundits have stated that it is a sign of a society in crises, talk that I have always dismissed as being alarmist.
Now I’m not so sure.