If you have been looking on Google or elsewhere for details of Kenneth Clarke’s much heralded Sentencing Review, you will have been sadly disappointed with the results.
The Government, it seems, is in no hurry to announce the results of the Sentencing Council’s deliberations, despite the fact that many of the proposed cuts to the Ministry of Justice’s budget depends on those results. Indeed, without a severe revision of current sentencing practises, it is unlikely that the publicised cuts can be achieved.
So much for so little…just click on the image above
Then there is the much criticised (and apparently unlawful) Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) which, it has been announced some time ago, is also up for revision. Indeed, many are calling for it to be abolished altogether.
Short sentences are to be used less, it has been suggested, although magistrates have bemoaned this proposal. Community sentences on the other hand are to be used more.
All of this has been heavily trailed in the press, in Parliament and in the media generally, not least on TheOpinionSite.org.
So, why have we heard nothing?
Perhaps it is because of the recent embarrassment to the Government regarding the rights of prisoners to vote in elections. David Cameron made it clear in Parliament that he was dismayed (some may say emotionally disturbed) at the prospect of having to obey the law as laid down in Strasbourg, even though he expects others to obey the law in this country.
Perhaps we have heard nothing due to the Government’s embarrassment at losing the case against Abu Hamza and therefore not being able to relieve him of his passport.
Maybe it is because the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives cannot agree on whether or not to move the UK’s sentencing policy away from vindictiveness and revenge and towards justice; that would indeed be a memorable thing for this punishment-loving country.
Actually, TheOpinionSite.org has a simpler explanation for the Government’s unnatural silence; to do what is right, just and fair will invoke the wrath of the Tory Right, the Murdoch press and the victims’ charities, all of whom feel rather left out nowadays as the coalition has, rightly in our view, removed them from the decision making process of Government.
On the one hand, the current administration should be praised for even considering the possibility of undoing the politically driven, custody loving penal policies of the Labour government. It should be praised for not giving in to the likes of Jim Gamble and his power hungry cronies along with Sara Payne, Shy Keenan and all the others who are seemingly out to make a fast buck from stoking the fires of public paranoia.
It should also be praised for not, so far anyway, giving into the tabloids who are also only interested in making money out of a gullible and often ill-informed public.
On the other hand however, they really should get on with it, announce the results of the review and tell us all how and when they are going to put them into effect.
If they leave it much longer or worse, kick the review into the long grass in the hope that it is forgotten, any credibility which they have so far built up will drain away very quickly.
Clarke, Cameron and the others who are responsible should get their finger out and announce the results of the review now – before they start to look just like the Labour government that many believe were such experts at lying, cheating and breaking their word.