Posts Tagged ‘knife crime’

More political stupidity:knife violence in Britain

July 14, 2008

I have to reiterate my old theory that people should have to pass some kind of intelligence test before they run for political office.

Here we have the classic nanny state reaction to a problem. As part of their anti-knife crime bill the British government has proposed that knife attack offenders should visit their victims in the hospital to see the damage they have done.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, yesterday rushed out plans to bring youngsters caught with knives face to face with the victims of stabbings in an attempt to deter them from carrying weapons.

But a leading accident and emergency doctor today warned that the proposal could lead to a “secondary victimisation” of individuals at the hands of the perpetrators.

Smith said that she believed that confronting offenders with the consequences of their actions was more effective than jailing anyone convicted of possessing a knife.

But the plan drew a scathing response from the opposition parties, who described it as “half-baked” and “ill-thought through”.

Brown said the measure was “one of the ways” that knife crime would be tackled.

“I wouldn’t want people to think there is one measure we are taking alone,” he said. “There will be tougher sentences, tougher enforcement and a toughening up on prevention to tackle knife crime.”

Smith’s measures include visits by offenders to A&E wards where people are being treated for knife wounds, meetings with the families of stabbing victims and prison visits to offenders jailed for knife offences.

An A&E doctors’ leader attacked the idea of bringing offenders into hospital, arguing that patients being treated in emergency departments would be in “extremely vulnerable states”.

Donald MacKechnie, clinical vice-president of the College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the proposal was impractical for a busy emergency department, whose priority was the patient.

He said: “When someone is brought in having been stabbed or assaulted with a knife, it’s a very emotive situation. Doctors and nurses first of all have got to assess the injuries and then manage those injuries.

“We certainly don’t think it would be a good idea if then potential or actual perpetrators of knife crime were marched through to see these patients, who are in an extremely vulnerable state.

“It’s tantamount to secondary victimisation of someone who has already suffered a horrendous insult to them. From a practical point of view, working in an A&E department, it’s very difficult to see how this would work.”

The home secretary defended her proposals, as she rejected Tory demands that anyone caught carrying a knife should expect to go to prison.

“I am very keen that we make people face up to the consequences. In my book it is tougher than simply saying there is one simple solution and that is: everyone goes to prison,” she said.

That’s what you want to see when you are stretched out in a hospital bed, hopefully recovering from your knife wounds. You want to see the guy who stabbed you coming through your door. Or as was put by one person:

Dee Edwards, who runs the campaign group Mothers against Murder and Aggression, said: “This is a load of old rubbish, a load of old tosh. As if victims who are lying there dying are going to want to see the perpetrator turn up with their mobile phone taking footage to put onto Youtube.

Not that the brain power on the opposition benches is any weightier. The previous week the Conservatives (according to this article) were calling for jail sentences for anyone carrying a “bladed weapeon”.

The Conservatives, who only last week called for mandatory jail terms for anyone caught in possession of a bladed weapon, dismissed the proposals as “piecemeal”, “ill-thought through” and a “knee jerk reaction”.

And a mandatory jail term for anyone carrying a “bladed weapon” isn’t “ill-thought through” and a “knee jerk reaction”?

You could see what would be coming next on that one: some kind of licencing for people who need a “bladed weapon” to carry on their jobs.

Or the usual convoluted legal description as to what constitutes a “bladed weapon” and what defines a “bladed non-weapon”. Oh well, those definitions could always be thrashed out in court. That always saves writing good legislation the first time around.

Makes me wonder if Toronto’s Mayor David Miller has been talking to the Brits on how to solve their problems or vice versa.

Which brings me around to another question. Why do we pass laws to stop “gun violence” or “knife violence”? Why don’t we worry about violence in general?

Politicians (and others with their personal agendas) call for mandatory jail time for gun crime and knife crime but what about if the perpetrator beats the guy half to death with a baseball bat. Or puts the boots to his victim’s head? Are these “nicer” crimes of violence.

From a politician’s point of view it all comes down to what’s on the front pages of the newspaper today or the lead story on the evening television news.