BORIS Johnson says that he will be the Incredible Hulk in his determination to free Britain from the chains of EU rule.
Now he needs to bring the same muscularity to bear on the dangerous criminals who for too long have been allowed to roam Britain’s streets.
At the weekend, Downing Street announced plans to toughen up the justice system dramatically through much longer jail terms for the worst offenders.
Under this scheme, killers of young children will never be released from jail – life really will mean life – while minimum sentences for other murders will also be increased.
Just as importantly, there will be an end to the widely criticised policy of giving automatic early release to most prisoners halfway through their sentences.
Instead, Boris wants violent and sexual offenders to serve at least two thirds of their tariffs.
Quite right. For soft sentences and automatic early release are making a mockery of our justice system.
Those convicted of vile sexual offences seem to get off particularly lightly.
In June, serial sex offender Kyle Park from Aberdeen was convicted of raping four schoolgirls and mutilating a fifth with a razor blade. One of his victims was just 13.
Yet Park was sentenced to just six years, which meant he could be out in three.
Adam Quelch from Sussex contacted a 12-year old girl online and lured her to a local wood where he raped her.
Yet on his conviction for this crime – raping a child – he was given a meaningless community order.
This outrageous decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, though even its sentence was just two years and six months imprisonment.
We should not need these appeals. The lower courts should be doing their job by handing out proper penalties – and protecting the public.
What about the real victims?
The Home Secretary Priti Patel was heavily criticised by the do-gooders when she recently said that she wants offenders “literally to feel terror” but she was absolutely right.
For too long criminals have laughed at the law, largely because the sentences imposed by the courts are too soft and inconsistent.
One study by the think tank Civitas showed that just a third of those convicted of violent crimes are actually sent to prison.
The liberal handwringers will not like harsher sentences, given their addiction to the fashionable dogma that criminals are really the victims of social forces like inequality, poverty or racism, so they deserve support rather than punishment.
But what about the real victims? In place of endless excuse-making, criminals must be forced to face up to the consequences of their actions.
Suspended sentences for knives
To the Tories shame, during the ten years they’ve been in office they have slashed police numbers and allowed the courts to remain enfeebled.
So I can only hope that Boris’s new ‘life means life’ proposals at the weekend – which also include 20,000 additional police officers, 10,000 more prison places, and the return of stop-and-search on the streets – are a genuine attempt to get tough on crime. Not empty political propaganda.
For the effects of soft jail sentences – or no jail sentences – are being felt on Britain’s streets. Last year the number of fatal stabbings in England and Wales was the highest since records began.
Little wonder, given that those carrying knives can expect only a slap on the wrists.
A report published last November revealed that 40 per cent of criminals caught more than once with a knife are spared jail, which makes a mockery of the “two strikes and you’re out” law passed in 2015.
‘Zombie’ knife thug Joshua Gardner, 18, was spared jail despite threatening a schoolboy at knifepoint and wielding a machete at passing motorists. He was given a suspended sentence before eventually being jailed for three-and-a-half years in January following public outcry.
Community sentences don’t protect the community
As for “tough community sentences”, the idea so eagerly peddled by left-wingers, they are a contradiction in terms.
Such orders allow criminals to continue their law-breaking because they neither restrict liberty, nor punish nor act as a deterrent.
One youth worker told me of a group of offenders under his supervision, whose farcical penalties included visits to a music recording studio and a tennis centre.
Of the uselessness of these sentences, a senior court official recalled, “I have yet to see a defendant upset to receive a community order or exhibit any form of dread which might make them think twice about their behaviour in future.”
The softly-softly brigade likes to present community sentences as enlightened and caring, but they are the opposite.
By presenting certain manual tasks – like clearing litter or removing graffiti – as suitable punishments for criminals, such a policy is a profound insult to the dignity of people who are employed to do similar jobs.
That kind of unthinking hypocrisy is typical of the anti-prison lobby. In reality, there is nothing remotely compassionate about leniency towards criminals. On the contrary, it robs our society of security and victims of justice.
One of Britain’s most prolific female thieves, Jeanette Fidler from Oldham walked free from court despite clocking up 218 convictions in 17 years.
Terrifyingly, community sentences are also being used for increasingly serious crimes.
A pathetic community order was dished out by Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court to Cameron Battisson, who had downloaded over 1,700 images of child abuse on to his computers.
This slap on the wrist had to be overturned by the Court of Appeal, which jailed Battisson for five years.
Prison is only guarantee for safety on Britain’s streets
That’s why Boris’s initiative is so badly needed.
As for the repeated claim that “prison doesn’t work,” that jails are nothing more than “universities of crime” which “make bad people worse”.
But such arguments could hardly be more hollow.
Prison is the one place that guarantees public safety by keeping criminals behind bars rather than roaming the streets.
The reason why re-offending rates are high for ex-inmates is that sentences are too short, not because prison is ineffective.
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Indeed, by far the lowest re-conviction rates are for those who have served the longest terms inside.
Anti-prison campaigners bang on about the costs of jail, at around £38,000-per-year for each inmate, but in truth the annual £3.2 billion bill for the prison service is a bargain compared to the overall cost of crime to our society.
Boris “Incredible Hulk” Johnson needs to live up to his rhetoric and start a new regime of toughness.
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