Friday, 1 October 2021
It horrifies me that anyone might have to spend the rest of his life in prison. But not half as much as it horrifies me that a serving Police Officer might have used his warrant card and his handcuffs to commit kidnap, rape and murder.
Wayne Couzens was a serving policeman. The warrant card that he used for his offences was genuine and valid, and it was genuinely and validly held by him. A call to the station would have confirmed that he was who he said he was. So yes, he does have to spend the rest of his life in prison.
The legislation provides five examples of murders that might warrant whole-life orders, with other cases to be assessed by comparison with those. One of them is the murder of a Police Officer or a Prison Officer in the course of his or her duties.
Since that is a sufficient attack on the basis of our society, then so is murder by a Police Officer or a Prison Officer ostensibly in the course of his or her duties, for example by misusing his warrant card and his handcuffs to make a false arrest in order to commit that murder. There is no way out of this.
Jeremy Corbyn agrees. Of course he does. The "abolitionists" (I am not keen on their appropriation of the name of the struggle against slavery) were much more committed to him electorally than I was ever able to be, but he was never one of their own.
We, such as Corbyn, who have been opponents of the austerity programme from the start have already spent 11 years fighting against the defunding that has been going on since 2010, unopposed by Labour before or after Corbyn's Leadership.
The 2017 and 2019 manifestos promised substantial increases both in Police numbers and in Police pay. The Corbyn Leadership Campaigns were strongly supported by the Prison Officers' Association, as well they might have been. It is one of the unions that underwrite the Morning Star in return for seats on its Management Committee.
Having abolished prisons, then what would you do with someone who had abused his Police powers in the way that Couzens had? If your answer is that the question could not arise because you would also have abolished the Police, then I am sorry, because you are probably involved in the campaigns against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, but so are a lot of people, and some of us are grownups.