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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Riots in England: Crime and punishment

Of all the knee-jerk reactions to those found guilty (or not) of involvement in the recent riots, the worst must be the threat to make people homeless. Of course, that cannot apply if you are a millionaire's daughter living with your parents in a "£1million detached converted farmhouse in Orpington" - unless your parents throw you out!

I have no sympathy whatsoever with the rioters but how can one compare a mother being made homeless because of the actions of her teenage son with the blip in the life of a family at the other end of the social scale? The punishment in one instance far outweighs the other so is justice seen to be done? It is to be expected that people benefiting from state support will be viewed as undeserving of help in the circumstances witnessed but apart from the inequality of the punishment, what is the point of creating yet another social problem by stopping benefits and putting people on the streets, or is that another 'Big Society' opportunity where charities will have to pick up the pieces?

The Government has already come unstuck by making claims which are disputed by the police and it has not escaped people's attention that some of the 'haves' in society have, at a much higher level, been helping themselves at the expense of the taxpayer. David Cameron has made much of bringing US "supercop" Bill Bratton to Britain to sort out the gang culture that exists in major cities but Mr Bratton has already warned, and the Chancellor has agreed, that there are very deep-seated social problems that need to be tackled. Whoever gets the job of restoring our broken society, there seems little point in adding to them before work starts.

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