Monday, July 14, 2008

Noddy in knifeland

Even by the standards of this government, the new proposals to tackle knife crime are something of a preposterous joke.

Take the idea of sending offenders to visit stabbing victims in hospital. First of all, do they really think that someone who has recently been stabbed is going to want some knife carrying thug coming to see them? And what will they see when they get there? Someone recovering in a comfy bed with a neat row of stitches which will one day be a scar.

I'm sorry, but in a world where more and more people choose to deliberately disfigure their bodies with ugly tattoos  and piercings I fail to see what impact that is going to have. I reckon the reaction of most young people would be "Wow, cool!" Maybe if they saw the stab victim while they were writhing in agony with blood pumping from a gaping wound and screaming for their mother it might have an impact, but then they'd have to hang around Casualty departments waiting for the latest victim to be dragged in off the streets. That could be quite a wait - although probably no longer than the average wait for anybody else to get seen in a Casualty department.

And with kids brought up on a diet of violent video games and film images I expect the reaction would still be "Wow, cool!"

In other words, it won't make the slightest difference.

I also find it telling when the Home Secretary tells us how keen she is to make people face up to the consequences of carrying a knife.

"I am very keen that we make people face up to the consequences. In my book, that is tougher than simply saying there's one simple solution and that's everybody goes to prison."

What book was that, Jacqui? Noddy in Gangland? "Noddy was found carrying a very large knife so Mr Plod gave him a severe scolding and put him to bed without any milk". Of course, it's quite telling that in Jacqui Smith's book the "consequences" don't include prison - perish the thought that the little darlings should actually have to serve any time behind bars.

What doesn't appear to cross her mind either is the idea of using an old and effective method of preventing crime and disorder called "policing". It's a simple idea where trained members of the public are paid to patrol the streets wearing smart uniforms that ooze authority without appearing intimidating. Their mere presence has a deterrent effect and, should they come across wrongdoing, they are well placed to deal with it.

Back these up with courts that dish out justice according to the laws of the land and not the interpretation of some foreign and vague "international law" and presided over by judges who are more influenced by the British Constitution than they are the pages of The Guardian and you might have some hope of restoring some peace and order to our streets.

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