Thursday, July 22, 2010
£37 MILLION: Huge bill to the British taxpayer for crimes of just TWO families
They were responsible for four decades of murder and mayhem. And just two gangster families left taxpayers with a staggering £37million bill for their crimes, it was revealed yesterday.
The figure - almost £1million a year since their reign of terror began - is the cost to the public for detecting and punishing their offences. The families were members of two notorious gangs in Birmingham, the Burger Bar Boys [below] and the Johnson Crew.
The total cost to the public of these two gangs - as opposed to only the two families themselves - is thought to be nearly £190million. Both gangs became infamous in 2003 after two teenagers, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, were shot dead outside a New Year party in Birmingham during a gun battle between rival gangsters.
The £37million includes the cost of police investigations, lawyers, trials and prison for murders, attempted murders and serious injuries inflicted by three generations from the pair of gangster families. But it does not count the cost of medical care of victims, of undetected crimes by the same families, of their more minor crimes, or the cost in money or harm to their victims.
Nor does it take into account the state benefits claimed by the families, the education and extra teaching required by their children, their own burden on the NHS, or of providing them with council houses.
The bill for the two families, which was estimated from the records of gang members, was revealed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. He said it illustrated how 'we spend vast sums of money ineffectually managing social failure'.
Mr Maude told BBC Radio Four's World Tonight: 'There are two families in Birmingham where over three generations they have cost the taxpayer over £37million.' He said there were no neighbourhood or community groups ready deal with people committing crime on that scale.
The details of the cost of gangster families were calculated by officials from the police, criminal justice agencies and Birmingham council and made public in a report on how the spread of crime down the generations might be curbed.
The bill was based on the criminal records of one family from the Johnson Crew and one from the Burger Bar Boys. The first family - a father and five sons believed to be in the Johnson Crew - was estimated to have cost the taxpayer £23.8million over three generations.
The report does not note the full records of the individuals, but officials assumed each of the five sons was involved in crime on a similar scale. It assumes the cost to the taxpayer of dealing with a murder according to the Home Office estimate of £1.4million and says the price of attempted murder begins at £25,000.
Individual examples of crime cited include a case of possession of illegal firearms which resulted in ten and five-year sentences for two men in 2004. These brought costs totalling £621,000 to police and prison services, the report found.
A second family - believed to be the Burger Bar Boys gang - was also examined, and its costs came to £13.7million. The report found that each of the two gangs revolves around five dynastic criminal families, and so the total cost of the two groupings over the past 40 years is around £187.5million.
It said: 'The impact of gang culture and related violence continues to generate fear among communities. 'In Birmingham, gang violence peaked in 2003, when a series of murders and attempted murders brought national and international attention. 'The very public nature of that violence, often committed in city streets and witnessed by innocent citizens, presents an ongoing challenge to both police and statutory partners.'
It added: 'The violence and crime associated with urban street gangs is cultivated in families where there is intergenerational gang membership and a criminal lifestyle is regarded as the norm.'
The officials recommended that 'intervention projects' should be launched in which social workers and other 'highly skilled staff' would spend large amounts of time with parents and children to try to steer them away from crime.
However, they would cost £75,000 for each family and independent analysts have suggested that their success among criminal families has been greatly exaggerated.
The Birmingham report said: 'The difficulty in penetrating and understanding gang culture makes it almost impossible for the indoctrinated to provide an informed view of what interventions will make a difference.' [A hangman would be completely effective]
Free the police to tackle the criminals on Britain's streets
Spending cuts must fall on the staff who hinder actual policing, says a serving police inspector
Until recently, more money than ever was being spent on the police – so why are so few officers available to tackle crime, and what will happen once the fiscal drought really sets in?
The first question – raised by a new report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary – is easy to answer. The report found that, of the 144,000 serving police officers, only 11 per cent of us are "visibly available" at any one time to deal with complaints from the public. I'm not at all surprised, and no real police officer will be. It's because there are, in fact, three separate police forces.
The first is the politically driven caste of senior officers, who – under New Labour – spent their lives rushing to publicise the Home Office's latest wheezes about "Partnership Working", "Community Engagement" or "Citizen Focus". The Chief Inspector's report reveals that, in 2009 alone, some 2,600 pages of guidance were issued. That may astonish you, but for years, these complex, and often contradictory, agendas have been spilling out of the top-floor offices.
The second police force is largely made up of people who have never arrested anyone: supervisors, auditors, accountants, diversity consultants, health and safety advisers, monitoring groups and crime managers. We have more people in these roles than out on the streets fighting crime. Of the 100 or so emails in my inbox, they will be responsible for two thirds: demands to tick these boxes, check this, find out that, visit so-and-so. Rarely will this assist in the apprehension of a criminal: it's far more about ensuring we have met a target, or are complying with a pledge, or haven't missed some arcane detail that will move an offence from one column to another.
That leaves those of us in the third police force, who do the protecting and serving: the patrol and neighbourhood officers who respond to emergency calls (and many not-so emergency calls); the CID; and the custody teams who deal with prisoners.
On my BCU – what used to be a division – we have a "Policing Pledge" team, comprising a Chief Inspector, an Inspector, and two PCs whose sole job is to monitor the delivery of the policing pledges that Theresa May has just abolished. (The unit is staying put, under a different name.) Then there is the Criminal Justice Unit – an office of 22 civilians who manage the through-flow of case files between the police, Crown Prosecution Service and courts. There's also the Area Crime Management Unit – three sergeants and a mixed set of 15 civilians and PCs whose job is purely to manage the crime reporting system: checking the paperwork, allocating crime reports, classifying and filing cases. Then there are the chief clerks – one each for Finance, Estates and Admin, each of whom has four staff.
Contrast this with our minimum manning levels on the emergency response team – the people who come out when you call 999. For our area of 300 square miles, we have 16 PCs, one sergeant and one inspector. And these are burdened by "Partnership Working", box-ticking and a shift system which, according to this week's report, means that they might only work 171 days a year.
I haven't started on the paperwork, which means that dealing with a drunken idiot who glasses your sergeant in a pub can easily take six or seven hours, even if he admits the offence. (In Canada, it would take 30 minutes.) This idiot is also a "customer" to be "engaged with" and "reached out" to. We must treat him with respect at all times, and ascertain his views as to the comfort levels of his overnight stay, even though he just wanted to hurt someone, spend the night in a cell, choose one of the dishes on our custody menu, decline a duty solicitor and walk away with a fixed penalty notice that he will probably never pay.
The new Government, then, has a straightforward choice. It can follow the example set by Labour, and spew out another 3,000 pages of new directives and cost-cutting initiatives. It can allow forces to keep their back offices, staffed by desk jockeys and civil servants who actively hinder proper policing, and replace front-line officers with phone calls to the public to reassure them that crime is down in their area. Or ministers can simply say that enough is enough.
I love my job, as most front-line cops do. At its best, you get to be a children's entertainer, a social worker, a doctor, a financial adviser and a personnel manager, all at the same time. We take responsibility for a few hundred thousand souls, two large stretches of motorway, eight mainline railway stations, four town-centre nightclubs, a major district hospital, hundreds of pubs, shops, housing estates and a million different ways in which people can come to grief. All the Government needs to do is free us from the bureaucracy, and let us get on with the job.
Another one: Teenage mother who made 'wicked' false rape claim is jailed for 15 months in Britain
A young mother who falsely claimed she was raped by a teenager was yesterday locked away for 15 months. Jade Brooks was 17 when she claimed the 18-year-old had taken her into a copse and attacked her.
He was later arrested, subjected to an intimate examination, kept in a cell for 13 hours and grilled by officers under caution before being released on police bail. It was a further two months before he was told no further action would be taken after Brooks's story began to unravel.
Witnesses said they had seen her kissing and cuddling the young man shortly before the alleged attack near a disused railway station in Haverhill, Suffolk, and was laughing and embracing him immediately after they left the wooded area. Brooks, who is now 19, was also seen by a friend performing a sex act on the teenager at a house later that evening.
She wept and protested her innocence yesterday as she learned she would be separated from her month-old baby daughter while she serves time in a young offenders institution for perverting the course of justice.
Judge David Goodin said an innocent man had been arrested and had his liberty taken away because of Brooks's 'wicked' claim. He also reprimanded her for doing 'a huge disservice' to genuine rape victims.
Brooks was heavily pregnant when she was convicted following a four-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court in May. Sentencing was delayed to allow her to recover from the pregnancy and for reports to be prepared.
During the hearing her victim described how he and two friends had been to a pub before meeting three girls, including Brooks, in the street. He said she led him into the secluded spot for sex and later had sex with him again at a friend's house. 'I didn't rape her. She is just a liar and an attention seeker. She has got no one to feel sorry for her,' he added.
Brooks, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was reported by one of her friends to have been tipsy but not drunk on the night of the alleged attack in July 2008. She had allowed the man to touch her breasts and didn't seem uncomfortable with what was happening. At no point during the time she was alone with him in the bushes did she scream, cry for help or raise her voice in any way. The only comment she made afterwards was: 'I've lost my shoe.'
She dealt a final, fatal blow to the rape case when she refused to give a video-taped interview to police.
Shereen Dyer, defending, told the judge yesterday her client accepted the jury's verdict but stood by her version of events and insisted she had been telling the truth.
She had urged the court to pass a suspended sentence because of the damaging effect a term behind bars would have on Brooks and her young daughter. However she could be released after serving half her sentence.
Does the press deserve a bailout?
by Jeff Jacoby
ARE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES the cure for what ails the news business? Add Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, to the roster of eminentoes who think the answer is yes.
More recently, the Federal Trade Commission released a "discussion draft paper" containing a raft of proposals "to support the reinvention of journalism." Many of them were schemes for funneling money from the government to the media. Among the FTC's suggestions: increased funding for public television and radio, the creation of a National Fund for Local News, a tax credit to news organizations for every journalist they hire, and even a new "journalism" division of AmeriCorps ("to ensure that young people who love journalism will stay in the field").
According to one estimate, such a package of subsidies could cost as much as $35 billion a year. Where would that money come from? The FTC ran all kinds of revenue ideas up the flagpole: Authorize the Small Business Administration to insure loans to nonprofit journalism organizations. Increase postal subsidies for newspapers and periodicals. Levy a new tax on commercial broadcasters -- or on consumer electronics -- or on TV and radio advertising -- or on cell phone Internet service.
But why should journalists be entitled to a multi-billion-dollar batch of media subsidies?
I have been working for newspapers for the past 23 years, and my retirement is still a long way off. Needless to say, the viability of newspapers is not a subject I take lightly. Nor do I minimize the significance of the news media and traditional journalism, with all their flaws and failings, to modern democracy and civil society. But does my esteem for the news business -- or Bollinger's or Cardin's or the FTC's -- justify government intervention to keep it alive?
Subsidies always amount, in the end, to confiscating money from many taxpayers in order to benefit relatively few. Those who call for keeping newspapers and other old media alive with injections of public funds are really saying that if people won't support those forms of journalism voluntarily, they should be made to do so against their will. I believe every American family should subscribe to one or two newspapers and read them regularly. But that doesn't give me the right to make you pay for a subscription you don't want -- not even if I think you would be better off for it. How can the government have the right to do, in effect, the same thing?
I would welcome a new lease on life and profitability for newspapers, and I value high-quality journalism, but the two are not synonymous. Whatever happens to the traditional media, journalism and news delivery will find profitable ways to endure. Like it or not, the transition from old to new is happening. The best thing the government can do is stay out of the way.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.