In Reponse To Riots: Clarke Blames Penal System

I came across Ken Clarke MP Ken says riots ‘legacy of broken penal system’; I decide to analyse to do it justice that I shall enclose the article before I give my response:

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has blamed the “broken penal system” for the riots that erupted across England last month.
Writing in the Guardian, he said the “hardcore” of those involved were known criminals whose behaviour had not been changed by previous punishments.

Almost three quarters of those aged over 18 who were charged over the riots had a prior conviction, he added.

Mr Clarke argued that this made his efforts to reform the penal system and cut reoffending even more important.
he government is piloting payment-by-results schemes for private firms who successfully rehabilitate offenders.

Mr Clarke has argued that fewer criminals should be sent to prison, suggesting that tough community punishments would be more effective at reducing reoffending.

But his proposals have been criticised by Labour shadow ministers who say they are driven by a desire to save money.

‘Criminal classes’

In an article for the Guardian, the justice secretary said it had “not yet been widely recognised” that the majority of those charged with rioting or looting were known criminals.

Kenneth Clarke sees the riots as an “outburst of outrageous behaviour” by criminals who haven’t been changed by their previous punishments.

So he underlines the need to pay those who have the task of rehabilitating offenders by results.

But he goes further, arguing that it is the coalition’s mission not just to tackle the financial deficit but the “social deficit” which the riots have highlighted.

Using similar terms to the prime minister, he says “rocket boosters” need to be put under plans to reform the education and welfare systems.

But unlike the prime minister, he doesn’t put human rights legislation in the dock, failing to echo Number 10’s belief that such legislation has undermined personal responsibility.

“That is the legacy of a broken penal system – one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful,” he wrote.

“In my view, the riots can be seen in part as an outburst of outrageous behaviour by the criminal classes – individuals and families familiar with the justice system who haven’t been changed by their past punishments.”

Mr Clarke praised the justice system for imposing swift, tough penalties on convicted rioters, but said punishment alone was “not enough”.

He outlined his planned changes to the penal system – including making prisoners work harder while behind bars – but said there needed to be wider changes to address “the appalling social deficit that the riots have highlighted”.

“It’s about having a job, a strong family, a decent education and beneath it all, an attitude that shares in the values of mainstream society,” he wrote.

“What is different now is that a growing minority of people in our nation lack all of those things and indeed, have substituted an inflated sense of expectations for a commitment to hard graft.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said Mr Clarke was “absolutely right” to highlight high reoffending rates, adding that the situation was “ludicrous”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we end up doing is arresting, re-arresting and re-re-arresting the same people for different crimes.”

Mr Duncan Smith called for “strong punishment but sensible punishment”, saying: “The idea the length of the sentence is going to solve the problem is simplistic nonsense.”

An independent “communities and victims panel” has been set up to investigate the causes of the riots and to consider any lessons that can be learned.

Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the events were the result of “straightforward criminality”, and were not about poverty or protest.

He has pledged to put “rocket boosters” under plans to turn around the lives of the UK’s 120,000 most troubled families by 2015 – a vow echoed by Mr Clarke in his Guardian article.

Recent figures released by the Ministry of Justice show more than
1,500 people have now appeared in court over the riots which erupted in several English cities last month.

There has been criticism from some penal charities who say the sentences given have been too harsh, but Mr Clarke said judges and magistrates should be trusted “to base decisions on individual circumstances”.

He added: “Injustices can occur in any system: but that’s precisely why we enjoy the services of the court of appeal.”

My thoughts are of:

I’m sure the whole world will find Ken Clarke MP comments very ironic. It’s like giving the looters and thugs the green to say it’s okay for then to go on the streets to cause mayhem. Well done Clarke babe.

Instead of coming up with strategies to deter criminal activity it’s far too easy for MPs to play the blame game of prisons. Instead of looking at the causes as to why are the prison system is not working the public concerns are why do we pay our taxes for if the coalition is not looking for solutions to solve the crisis.

There is no doubt there is no discipline but to blame single parents is not always the cause. There are many children who were brought out by single parents who go on to pillar of communities. Agree there are some who goes on to commit crimes but those are a small majority. Previous and current Govt gives a good talk less action. Communities want to see less talk and more action. State education in educating prisoners need to include more job skills in the penal system. Probation services needs to help to identify more services in the communities that are more willing to employ ex-prisoners or become self employment.

There is a feeling that the national services should be reintroduce into the UK the question is if it worked in the past and why was it disbanded in the first place mmm let us all make a big guess CUTs.
The speed and devastation with which the riots spread suggests they were organised. Some argue that gangs were instrumental in co-ordinating the disorder

This wasn’t a general uprising, says Christian Guy, policy director at think tank the Centre for Social Justice. It was a well co-ordinated operation, which is likely to have been led by young people in street gangs, he believes.

Daniel Weston, a youth worker in Brixton, says gangs in his area bided their time after the first night of violence in Tottenham.
When they were ready to strike, gang leaders used Blackberry Messenger, a closed network not visible to police, to mobilise younger gang members. Targets were identified – typically Footlocker, JD Sports and Currys – and gang members directed to them.
Normally their business is selling drugs. But during the riots they “put that to one side to” to turn their attentions to looting, he believes

Most gang violence is aimed at other gangs. But during the riots the gangs appeared to join forces.

Strict territorial divides preventing young people “slipping” into rival areas were temporarily forgotten. Weston says gangs were given a “hood pass” – a slang term meaning that youths were allowed to travel into another neighbourhood.

“The gangs came together and forgot their rivalries,” he says. For once, gang members from Peckham, Brixton, Clapham and Tulse Hill, allowed other’s young people to move around unhindered. The informal truce didn’t last long however. There have already been attacks on rival gangs to steal looted gear, he says. YOUNG people join gangs for a sense of belonging, Prince Charles last week told families made homeless by the riots.

Violence has been simmering in the inner cities for years. The gang problem is not yet out of control, but it needs dedicated action to stem it. Drug policy hasn’t changed in 30 years and the war has been lost.

Last month’s riots were again linked to poverty on 5 Sept by new research that showed that more a third of those taken to court in London lived in the city’s poorest boroughs.

Financial Times did a study of court papers of more than 300 suspects and found two thirds came from areas with a below average income.

It’s no surprise that Coalition Leader DavidCameron dismissed it as rubbish. Maybe Cameron should take some lessons from Greg Muttitt(War On Want) who said the figures proved Cameron was wrong to dismiss the riots as criminality. If he is concerned with social breakdown he should work to reverse rising inequality, rather than imposing harsh measures on the poorest.


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