Crime fiction is popular
I write fiction in which my heroes fight crime, like so many in print and on TV, but in real life, the fight is not just about individuals. It involves the whole criminal justice system, which includes the police, the courts, the probation service and the prison service. That is why government policy matters.
How is the government fighting crime?
The latest proposals have produced a lot of controversy because not everyone agrees about the best ways to fight crime. Here are some of the ideas:
- Increased use of Stop and Search
- Increased use of electronic tagging for alcohol-related crimes
- Making criminals on parole do community service in high-vis clothing
What’s wrong with these crime-fighting proposals?
Some people say these are discriminatory and will be counterproductive as they will make rehabilitation harder. They think the government’s beliefs about crime are based on fiction.
- Police using Stop and Search have allegedly targeted black and Asian people disproportionally.
- Many volunteers and employees wear high-vis clothing when working outside and people could wrongly stigmatise them.
- If offenders cannot get into employment or mainstream society generally, they will seek the company of other criminals and harden their anti-social attitudes.
- People doubt electronic tagging will be effective.
How do I rate these crime fighting measures?
- Retain Stop and Search, but use it fairly, as there must be plenty of white criminals.
- Encourage ex-offenders to mix with ordinary people and we should help them to find work. There should be a way to monitor and supervise them to protect everyone else.
- There should be pilot schemes for electronic tagging.
How else would I fight crime?
Fighting crime requires attention to the whole system not just parts.
- Adequately fund the police, probation, prison and courts services.
- Restore the legal aid budget, because injustice breeds resentment and alienation.
- Give the police a pay award to attract and retain quality recruits. (If you pay only peanuts, you attract only monkeys).
- Improve the selection and training of police officers to address all forms of discrimination.