Not Quite Getting the Point

In May, Pc Broadhurst\’s mother Cindy Eaton called on ministers to stop the Human Rights Act being used by criminals.

"There is an imbalance in this country of ours and it is about time it was redressed," she said.

Eh?

Either the Human Rights Act applies to us all, for we are all human with rights, or it doesn\’t apply to us all and thus the very concept of human rights has no meaning.

That doesn\’t stop, of course, those rights being differentially applied dependent upon our previous actions: the right to liberty does not trump the 37 year minimum sentence that this 42 year old has just been handed.

43 thoughts on “Not Quite Getting the Point”

  1. Surely at least some aspects of the HRA could be suspended as a response to certain actions, say murder and GBH. Ciyld it not be deemed that some actions carried out put the person outside the scope of the HRA ?

    I don’r see why I as a taxpayer might have to fund PS3s for prisoners when I can’t afford one for my children – don’t they have human rights as well ?

    Alan Douglas

  2. “What’s the link between the HRA and PS3s?”

    Well, there’s the undeniable (though the HO did their best to deny it) fact that we are paying for them

    Though I suspect it has more to do with the ‘young offenders just need more hugs ‘n cuddles’ crowd than with the HRA.

  3. The link between the HRA and PS3s is formed in the feverish minds of anti-HRA conservatives and the gutter press.

  4. So we paid for 0.02 consoles per prisoner?

    Oh noes!

    Alan, some aspects of the ECHR / HRA are ‘suspended’ when you go to prison: Article 5, right to liberty; Article 8, right to privacy…

    What other aspects did you have in mind?

  5. I agree on the general principle that the HRA applies to all, but how did the original sentence infringe his human rights? Those found guilty of committing such serious crimes, or those who have committed many lesser crimes should expect to die in prison.

    Of course, given this guy’s age, and the new minimum sentence, there is a fair chance he will die in prison anyway.

  6. Something that really annoys me about the articles in the MSM is that they very rarely, if ever, provide links to the judgement in question. Therefore we only hear what the reporter chooses to tell us.

    Not that people would necessarily flock to read it – recently I linked to a judgement and only 10% of those who read the article clicked through to it – but at least we would have the choice.

  7. “So we paid for 0.02 consoles per prisoner?

    Oh noes!”

    It’s not the most grievious example of government spending, true. But the point is, why should any taxpayer’s money be spent on it, even if a pittance?

  8. I’m not sure, JuliaM. It seems to me a games console is equivalent to a TV, boardgame, film, or book – some means of entertainment / passing the time.

    Should taxpayer money be spent on those items?

    I still don’t ‘get’ prison – I think we can’t make our collective mind up as to what prison should be about. Hell, I can’t either.

    That said, the guy in the photo is using a PlayStation One and a 14″ TV. I don’t think he’s being spoiled!

    And is that a window I see behind him?

  9. Thanks for the link, ukliberty, very interesting. In section 20, they quote something that is a bit bizarre:

    “4.a. In order to reduce the harmful effects of imprisonment and to promote the resettlement of prisoners under conditions that seek to guarantee safety of the outside community, the law should make conditional release available to all sentenced prisoners, including life-sentence prisoners.

    I would have thought that a life-sentence without possibility of release would best protect the outside community, and, by allowing a more spartan prison regime to be adopted, reducing the harmful effects of imprisonment, namely the cost to the taxpayer.

    Anyway, the law being what it is, a reduction in sentence from a whole life order sadly seems inevitable. However, adding just 7 years above the mandatory minimum 30 seems to be far too lenient to take account of the aggravating circumstances of the killing of PC Broadhurst, the attempted murders of the other two officers, and two counts of “possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life” (which I assume refer to stealing the Rover and attempting to steal the Renault). Does this new minimum cover all crimes he was convicted of? Or just the murder of PC Broadhurst? For everything here, the minimum should be more like 55-60 years.

  10. “It seems to me a games console is equivalent to a TV, boardgame, film, or book – some means of entertainment / passing the time.

    Should taxpayer money be spent on those items?”

    No.

    “…the guy in the photo is using a PlayStation One and a 14″ TV. I don’t think he’s being spoiled!”

    Oh, poor lamb. Someone call a whaaambulance…

    Well, no wonder you don’t ‘get’ prison, if you think it’s unjust that he hasn’t got access to the latest in Japanese RIS-inducers.

  11. JuliaM, I didn’t claim it was unjust, did I? The comment about the PlayStation One was an attempt at humour. A reaction to Daily Wailers.

    Ed, I’m out of my depth when it comes to sentencing. I am however of the impression that mandatory sentencing confuses matters from time to time, as it appears to have done here, and I also have the impression that judges aren’t keen on it.

    As you say, the minimum term is 37 years – he might not be let out 37 (minus time on remand) years from now. I don’t know whether this includes the other offences or not.

    What I do know from reading the judgement is that the court in fact rejected the argument (see para 50) advanced by the appellant in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights (there was no argument advanced under Human Rights Act).

  12. “The comment about the PlayStation One was an attempt at humour. A reaction to Daily Wailers.”

    Well, you suck at humour. And seeing these little thugs enjoying all the comforts of home while behind bars is something that enrages a lot more people that (as you put it) the ‘Daily Wailers’.

    They should be giving back to society, not lounging around in their cells.

  13. Tim – You are, of course, absolutely correct. HRA is a tool which should be used like a scalpel, but which has been wielded like a broadsword instead.

    Eh? That’s not what Tim’s saying at all.

    Adding just 7 years above the mandatory minimum 30 seems to be far too lenient to take account of the aggravating circumstances of the killing of PC Broadhurst, the attempted murders of the other two officers, and two counts of “possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life”

    The point is, most of the “aggregating circumstances” w.r.t PC Broadhurst himself are covered by the 30-year minimum. On top of that, 7 years additional tariff = 14 years sentence, which I imagine is about what you’d get for the attempted murder of two coppers and the associated firearms offences.

    “It seems to me a games console is equivalent to a TV, boardgame, film, or book – some means of entertainment / passing the time. Should taxpayer money be spent on those items?” No.

    Christ on a bike. What, so we lock them up with *absolutely nothing to do* and hope for the best, despite the fact that we know that if we lock them up with absolutely nothing to do they’ll end up teaching each other more crime, violently injuring each other and (more importantly) prison staff, and taking drugs…?

    [digressionally, I find the 30 year minimum in this context completely outrageous in and of itself. Why the hell should killing a rozzer be considered more serious than killing a member of the public? If anything, it should be considered less serious – the whole reason policemen get paid a lot for a semi-skilled job is that it’s a bit more dangerous than working in a call centre…]

  14. Tim,

    You are, of course, absolutely correct.

    HRA is a tool which should be used like a scalpel, but which has been wielded like a broadsword instead.

  15. Pingback: police killer’s sentence changed, judges in trouble again « UK Liberty

  16. On top of that, 7 years additional tariff = 14 years sentence, which I imagine is about what you’d get for the attempted murder of two coppers and the associated firearms offences.

    I didn’t think of it this way. You’re probably right that this is what one would get. I still think it should be higher.

    if we lock them up with absolutely nothing to do they’ll end up teaching each other more crime, violently injuring each other and (more importantly) prison staff, and taking drugs…?

    All of these still take place despite them having games consoles with Manhunt and GTA to play. The solution is to hold all prisoners in solitary confinement.

    I find the 30 year minimum in this context completely outrageous in and of itself. Why the hell should killing a rozzer be considered more serious than killing a member of the public?

    I agree. Lets make 30 years (per offence) the minimum for all such murders.

  17. “All of these still take place despite them having games consoles with Manhunt and GTA to play.”

    Except that only somewhere between 0% and 1% have games consoles (and IIRC even where games consoles are allowed, adult-rated games are not).

    “The solution is to hold all prisoners in solitary confinement.”

    Even better idea: take the thugs and drive them stark raving mad!

  18. “and IIRC even where games consoles are allowed, adult-rated games are not”

    It seems YDRC. From the ‘Mail’ article in my link:

    “The Ministry of Justice recently announced restrictions on the use of the games but critics said this was because the extent of their use was going to be made public.

    Officials at the department admitted that there was nothing to stop violent 18-rated games being played on taxpayer-funded machines and conceded that prison authorities may have purchased violent titles for some inmates.”

  19. Well, you suck at humour.

    And you suck at civility.

    And seeing these little thugs enjoying all the comforts of home while behind bars is something that enrages a lot more people that (as you put it) the ‘Daily Wailers’.

    They should be giving back to society, not lounging around in their cells.

    What should prisoners do with their time, JuliaM? Six posts and all you have done is criticise. How should prisoners give back to society?

  20. Right, so in short:
    1) the people who actually have to run prisons and deal with inmates day-in-day-out, and know a lot about doing so, decided that permitting consoles for entertainment was a good idea;
    2) this happened, with no problems;
    3) Paul Dacre and Jack Straw, who don’t and don’t, decreed that this was a Terrible Thing;
    4) The rules were changed against the governors’ wishes; and
    5) there was much rejoicing among people who also don’t and don’t across the land.

    Result!

    JuliaM: I guess that’s chain gangs from lights-on at 6AM to lights-out at 10PM, right? Damn, I’m glad to share a country with civilised types like yourself…

  21. Laundering and steam cleaning hospital linen. Growing their own vegetables to keep the bills down. Raising plants for charities to sell. Cleaning and re-painting the prison. Literacy and numeracy lessons. Reclamation and recycling work. Making bricks and breeze blocks for new prison buildings.
    It should be hard work, with ample potential for self improvement, learning new skills, and making some recompense to society. And at the end of the day, if they are all so knackered they just fall into bed, that is a good thing too. They won’t be rioting on the roof.

  22. “the people who actually have to run prisons and deal with inmates day-in-day-out, and know a lot about doing so, decided that permitting consoles for entertainment was a good idea”

    That people find easier, less challenging ways to do their job isn’t a new thing. I don’t recall being asked if I:

    a) wanted my tax money to be spent on giving prisoners a cushy deal, or
    b) wanted prisoners to idulge in ‘entertainment’ while incarcerated

    “I guess that’s chain gangs from lights-on at 6AM to lights-out at 10PM, right?”

    Hardly, they can have two 20 min breaks for refreshment (am & pm) and a 30 min midday meal. I’m not a monster, you know… 🙂

    “It should be hard work, with ample potential for self improvement, learning new skills, and making some recompense to society. “

    Precisely. Having them do nothing, or worse, spend all day on the Playstation, isn’t doing anyone any good, least of all them.

  23. JuliaM, what do you mean by “Chain gangs work quite well”? Do you mean, they suit your notion of justice and / or they reduce recidivism?

    And are prisoners “allowed to spend all day on the PlayStation”, or is that something you’ve made up / read in the Daily Wail?

    “I don’t recall being asked…” – You might be surprised by the number of things the Government does without running them by you first.

    Monty, apparently prisoners do get the opportunity to work and learn in prison, including being involved in the production of fresh produce. I do not know whether participation is mandatory nor whether or not they collapse into bed at the end of the day as a result.

  24. “I do not know whether participation is mandatory…”

    Well there you go, you see.

    Prison itself is mandatory, it is generally not something you can take or leave. It is a punishment for whatever offence you just committed against another human being. And it must have been pretty bad, because they don’t bang you up for parking on double yellow lines.

    It is mandatory because the offender, being not at all contrite about what he has done, would never consider doing anything to make amends. He is, in short, a lying, violent shitheel.

    And we have a choice don’t we. We could dispense justice ourselves, on the streets, and that would not be very edifying, or we can agree to be bound by the legal arm of the state. There is a contract at the heart of that.

    We, the people, undertake not to unleash our most vengeful retribution on crooks in an uncontrolled manner. We draw in our horns, and back off. In return, we expect punishment of the guilty. That’s the price.

    You are trying to swindle us. All you want to do is “support” the crooks, and make them love you. I don’t mind you wasting your life doing this, so long as I am not paying you to do it.

  25. “Do you mean, they suit your notion of justice and / or they reduce recidivism?”

    Yes. Both.

    “are prisoners “allowed to spend all day on the PlayStation””

    I see you’ve answered your own question… 😉

    “In return, we expect punishment of the guilty. That’s the price.”

    Monty is correct, here. You should give some consideration to what might happen if the price continues to be dodged by those in charge of the penal system. It won’t be pretty, I can assure you.

  26. John,

    My apologies if my earlier comment wasn’t clear. I was agreeing with the main thrust of Tim’s point – my comments about the nature of HRA were my own observations.

    The tenor of some of the comments here is troubling. Where does all this anger come from?

  27. John,

    My apologies of my earlier comment wasn’t clear. I was agreeing with the main thrust of Tim’s point; the observations on the nature of HRA are my own.

    The tenor of some of the comments here is troubling. Where does this anger come from?

  28. “The tenor of some of the comments here is troubling. Where does this anger come from?”

    I’d have thought that was blindingly obvious – it comes from seeing people playing the system, time after time after time, with little or no punishment. Take this case for example…

    Eventually, enough disgust with the system will build up and up in the law-abiding populace until there is a reckoning.

  29. “it must have been pretty bad, because they don’t bang you up for parking on double yellow lines”

    Repeat shoplifting. Benefit fraud. Heroin possession. Burglary of unoccupied comercial premises. A large proportion of people who’re *sent* to prison get sent there for things that are indeed trivial.

    (True, a large proportion of people who’re *in* prison were sent there for things that are more serious; the difference arises because of relative sentence lengths).

  30. You are trying to swindle us. All you want to do is “support” the crooks, and make them love you.

    Er no, Monty, I’m interested in truth and fairness and practical outcomes. I’m not trying to swindle anyone – haven’t I made it clear that I’m ignorant and trying to find out more?

    What I’m interested in is what people think happens, what actually happens, and how it works – the latter meaning, does the punishment suit our notion of justice, and will it reduce the likelihood of reoffending. From what I understand, constant punishment and negativity (for example) does not reduce reoffending – there has to be some sort of reward, some sort of positivity in the process – in other words, it is all very well punishing criminals, and feeling satisfied that they have been brought to book, but there seems little point if they are just as likely to commit crime when they come out. Some people might respond, lock them all up and throw away the key – well, (1) that’s impractical, (2) it doesn’t fit the notion that the punishment should fit the crime. Perhaps the latter is something some people feel we should do away with – I don’t.

    What I mean by “I don’t ‘get’ prison” is, I don’t understand what we as a society want from it, we seem conflicted about it, people get very emotional about it. Again this relates to punishment and recidivism. I’m sure everyone wants to reduce recidivism, but on the other hand some people think prisoners should be punished 24/7. Those things seem mutually exclusive.

    Apparently the individual prisons and young offender institutes have their own systems of rewards and sanctions, learning and working. I wonder if there has been any research into the rates of reoffending after prisoners are released from those individual prisons. Some people complain that prisoners are allowed to gain NVQs while inside – well, do NVQs help?

    I think that’s a good point about our agreement with the authorities to keep law and order. But it must be noted that our perception of what goes on in prison may not fit reality. So if there is to be a reckoning, I hope it isn’t based on ignorance.

  31. Actually and empirically they do.

    The point about an NVQ is that it demonstrates basic reading and numeracy skills. Since the percentages of prisoners with writing, arithmetic and reading skills below the average 11-year-old are 80%, 65% and 50% respectively, this is worth doing. There is strong research showing that giving prisoners basic literacy/numeracy skills brings a significant reduction in reoffending rates.

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  33. so this guy in a stolen car shot two or three unarmed police then stole another carwith an illeagal weapon andyou tossers are worried about his “welfare”

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