Peter Hitchens writes:
Has anything been happening while much of our media have been obsessed with a foreign contest between two mediocrities for a post that isn’t as important as it looks? Well, how about this blood-freezing statistic? More than 50 rapists have been let off with cautions, without ever facing a trial.
No doubt you thought that cautions were the sort of thing they gave to teenagers found drunk and flat on their faces in the street. But rape? Isn’t that important? In fact, isn’t it – thanks to political correctness – one of the few crimes that everyone still takes seriously, even Guardian readers? And more than 50 rapists, who have admitted the offence, have been given cautions for it? Shouldn’t the Government have fallen? You might expect the Tories to make a fuss about this but – now of course you remember – the Tories are in this Government and, in fact, dominate it.
Actually, this is only a small part of a much bigger problem uncovered by the Magistrates’ Association, whose members had begun to wonder why business in their courts was getting so slack. Had crime stopped? No, it hadn’t. Something else had happened. Criminals, the Government and the police were co-operating in a vast project which benefits everyone except the British public.
The police benefit because they look as if they’re doing something, when they’re not. The criminals benefit because they get let off so they can go and commit more crimes. And the Government benefits because it does not have to build the hundred or so huge new prisons that would be needed to house malefactors if we still took crime seriously. Actually, it’s far worse than I can fully state here, a horrible catalogue of unpunished evil, under which severe violence, child cruelty, burglary and even blackmail have been dealt with through the law’s equivalent of a shrug.
I plan to put a much fuller version of this scandal on my blog in the next few days, drawn from the jaw-dropping report by the Magistrates’ Association which should by now have been on every newspaper front page in the country. When you read – as you often do – that ‘crime is falling’, you must understand what this really means. It means that large numbers of wicked acts are no longer considered as crimes by the authorities. If we had the standards of 60 years ago, half the young people in the country would be locked up. If the police and courts of that era had judged crime by our standards, their prisons would have been empty.
It is not crime that has fallen, it is partly our own moral standard, our expectation of good, considerate, honest behaviour from our neighbours that has fallen. But it is also that the police and the Government, seeking a quiet life, have found it easier and cheaper to ignore wrongdoing until it gets out of control. Like all appeasement of evil, this policy invites a reckoning in the future.
The promised much fuller version is here. Too long to reproduce, but an absolute must-read.