Sometimes Britain seems to be going quietly mad. A country where an elderly lady can be prosecuted for poking a teenager in the chest, where a police force can be prosecuted under health and safety laws when an officer is injured chasing a criminal, where a mother is driven to suicide by years of unchecked menace by a gang of troublemakers, where a vicious attack on a stranger is all too often dealt with by a caution, is a country that is getting things badly wrong.
How did we ever get ourselves into such an extraordinary position?
How did we get ourselves into a position where it is the criminal whose rights seem to come first, and where the victim is all too often forgotten or ignored?
And how did we get ourselves into a position where all too often the offender just gets away with it?
The picture set out in the most recent figures released to the Conservative Party by the Government is stark. They blow the lid off Britain’s caution culture, and of a system that is sending all the wrong messages to offenders.
- Over the past decade, the number of offenders let off with a caution has risen sharply and now stands at nearly 1,000 a day.
- A third of those committing violent offences are now dealt with by a caution. That proportion has also more than doubled since 2001.
- A smaller and smaller proportion of offenders ever come before a court. Nearly half of all offences are now dealt with by a warning, a caution or a fixed penalty notice.
- Even sexual offences are treated in this way, with nearly one in three sex offenders let off with a caution. Detection rates have plummeted too.
- Only ten per cent of burglaries are solved.
- The detection rate for sexual offences has dropped by a quarter.
- So has the detection rate for violent offences – down by around a fifth.
Small wonder that so many people have lost faith in criminal justice in this country.
This short document sets out some of the reasons for the failings. It paints a picture of police stuck behind computer screens and not on the streets. Of unwieldy bureaucracy. And a system where justice is not being done.
It is a snapshot of a system that desperately needs a fresh start.