Lots of justified outrage today about Ken Clarke’s proposals to slash rape sentences in half, when it’s difficult enough to convict the scumbags anyway.
You need to listen to the whole interview to understand why people are so hacked off about this. People on Twitter have been calling Clarke’s Radio 5 piece a ‘car crash’ interview – but that’s misleading. ‘Car crash’ implies entertainment: Clarke’s interview is just nasty and unsettling. His patrician and dismissive attitude towards the reasonable, impassioned arguments of a genuine rape victim showed the Tory style at its worst. As did the giggling, piping middle-aged men behind Cameron when he was challenged on this at PMQs.
Unfortunately Clarke may not have done the government any real harm. We don’t live in the 1980s and the 6% conviction figure is no longer the establishment’s fault. Police install rape suites and judges take sensitivity training, but juries keep on acquitting rapists. We have to face this – the public still believes that rape alone among crimes is the fault of the victim. Anti-rape campaigns focus on female, rather than male behaviour – don’t get too drunk, don’t wear too little clothing, don’t leave your drink unattended – and you are as likely to hear the ‘she asked for it’ line from middle class hipsters as from working class conservatives.
In fourteen minutes Clarke destroyed his image as the acceptable face of the National Government. As my Twitter pal ‘Ian Plays Music’ put it: ‘Turns out Ken Clarke isn’t the cuddly, friendly old-school Tory that some on the Left made him out to be! Quelle surprise!’
People criticising the Justice Secretary’s laissez-faire attitude on rape should also scrutinise his policy on crime in general. It’s not a great, liberal ‘rehabilitation revolution’. It is about letting dangerous people out of jail to save money. That’s it. Nothing more.
Fact is, some people simply do not change, and sex offenders change less than most. A couple of weeks ago, probation officers complained that the early release system – that allows prisoners on determinate sentences to walk after half the time, regardless of attitude – had let hundreds of violent recidivists back on the streets.
Recent cases include one 40-year-old man, a convicted stalker from the Thames Valley area, who within two days of his release had turned up at his previous victim’s house and conducted extensive internet searches on her, even though he had previously been assessed as likely to kill her. A significant number of other cases that were examined concerned offenders who had been considered likely to assault female partners or acquaintances. Some began hunting down their former partners immediately upon release.
Most of those released had, according to Napo, failed to carry out any offender work or displayed any remorse. Most of the 30 individuals identified were recalled to custody within days of release because of the risk they posed. Others entered exclusion zones or absconded from hostels and most refused to co-operate with their licence conditions.
Harry Fletcher, Napo’s assistant general secretary, said: “It is scandalous that hundreds of prisoners are being released from custody automatically when they have completed half their sentence, despite assessments that they are of high risk of harm to the public. Case histories published by Napo show clearly that there is no incentive for certain prisoners to comply with rehabilitation plans in prison because they will be released when they have done half their time anyway. There is evidence that this is putting the public at risk.’
Clarke did point out on the radio that prisoners on license can be recalled. Which will be a great comfort to the mutilated corpse of the next woman murdered by some piece of shit out on early release.
The leftwing critique on crime is completely outdated. We have been saying for fifty years that crime is caused by poverty, but most poor people never hurt anyone. The Tories talk a good game, but in their hearts they don’t care if vicious individuals exploit the weak and vulnerable, in between ineffective and unattended community sentencing schemes. Ken Clarke can afford private security firms. Most people can’t, and crime – like everything else that’s bad – hits, disproportionately, working class people.
There is nothing progressive about letting monsters walk under the living sky.