Wednesday, December 28, 2011
British government to end compensation for criminals injured in prison
Convicted criminals will be banned from claiming compensation for their injuries under plans to be unveiled next month. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke will announce plans to ensure the money goes to victims of crime rather than criminals.
Every year criminals claim around £5million from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. It has given rise to controversial claims in which burglars have demanded money for injuries sustained when escaping the scene of the crime.
Thousands is also paid out every year to criminals who sustain injuries in prison as a result of feuds and drug-fuelled violence.
Soham murderer Ian Huntley is trying to claim £15,000 from CICA as a result of injuries sustained in prison from having his throat slit – in addition to a much higher sum in civil damages.
In total, 340 inmates made successful claims for injuries resulting in payouts and costs of £3.1million last year. More than 3,000 prisoners made claims. Official figures show that three prisoners got payouts of more than £100,000 while one inmate received £500,000. Another £2million was claimed by convicted criminals who are not jailed.
Most of the payouts for jailbirds are for injuries caused by trips, falls or slips as well as accidents while playing sport.
Ministers decided to step in because the Criminal Injuries Fund is chronically short of cash. Almost 50,000 victims of violent crime have been kept waiting for compensation worth in excess of £600million because the compensation authority has run out of funds. They include the children of murder victims and others who need the money to cover medical bills and compensate them for their disabilities and lost wages. Some are owed up to £500,000 after being left crippled by vicious thugs.
When the changes are introduced, inmates will still be able to sue prison authorities for damages or negligence if they are attacked. But they will no longer be allowed to claim money from the compensation authority.
A senior source close to Mr Clarke told the Mail: ‘It is ridiculous that we are continuing to spend so much money on the injuries sustained by convicted criminals when so many victims of crime are still waiting for funds.
‘There is around £5million a year paid out to convicted criminals and we intend to bring that to an end. That will allow us to save around £20million during the lifetime of this Parliament.’
The plans will also help cut the legal aid budget, which is being trimmed under coalition austerity measures. Hundreds of criminals use legal aid each year to claim compensation for their injuries. The legal aid bill for convicts has doubled in two years to £21million – although that sum also covers those demanding release from jail and softer punishments.
The crackdown on compensation payments was originally due to be unveiled in December, but senior government sources say it will now come in January.
Government sources described the current system as ‘a shambles’ and said they inherited a compensation authority from Labour which was overspending by £50million a year.
The plans will be published as part of a review of the organisation, which was previously criticised for huge delays in paying the victims of the July 7 terror attacks in 2005.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It is an outrage and a scandal that so much taxpayers’ money is being wasted on compensating criminals, who most people would think lost the right to make these claims.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘CICA receives a budget at the beginning of the year. As the scheme is demand-led the amounts due to victims in any one year can exceed the available budget for any year.’
Britain 'will defy meddling Europe over votes for prisoners'
Ministers are preparing to defy Europe over its insistence that Britain gives prisoners the right to vote. The Foreign Office has drawn up a blueprint to reform the European Court of Human Rights, aiming to win back power for national governments.
Britain has garnered Switzerland’s support in its campaign for changes to ‘address growing public and political concern’ – and is looking for further allies. If ministers cannot get enough support, they would consider simply ignoring the ruling on enfranchising all prison inmates.
The Government’s stance could inflame tensions within the Coalition, as the Euro-friendly Lib Dems are likely to have concerns. But the move has been welcomed by Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers.
Dominic Raab, a member of the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, said: ‘There is a growing consensus that Strasbourg’s meddling has gone too far and that Parliament should stand up for our democratic prerogatives.’
He added: ‘It is welcome to see the UK using its chairmanship of the Council of Europe to build international consensus on Strasbourg reform. ‘It is vital to ensure both that the ECHR does not collapse under the weight of its backlog, and the judges focus on serious human rights abuses, rather than tinkering with finer points of law in mature democracies like Britain.’
The UK will hold the chairmanship of the 47-member Council of Europe until May, and hopes it will be able to use its position to push through reforms. It has formed an alliance with Switzerland, where voters recently backed proposals by their government to deport foreign criminals.
A joint memo from the Foreign Office and Switzerland said the European Convention on Human Rights was in danger of falling into disrepute because of the huge backlog of 160,000 cases and the meddling of the court’s Strasbourg-based judges.
The document, published in the Sunday Times, warns: ‘Urgent action is needed to avoid further damage to the reputation and effectiveness of the convention system.’ It says the court must ‘address growing public and political concern’ about the way it functions and the extent to which it interferes with issues ‘that do not need to be dealt with at the European level’.
It says European judges should stop considering ‘hopeless cases’ thrown out by national courts. ‘The circumstances in which the European Court of Human Rights should need to reconsider the case and substitute its own view for that of the national court should be relatively limited.’
It also calls on the judges to adopt a broader ‘hands-off’ approach, saying: ‘There is no reason why this approach should be limited to asylum and immigration matters.’
The blueprint has now been submitted to an inter-governmental committee of the Council of Europe.
In February, MPs voted to continue to deny prisoners the right to vote – in defiance of the ECHR.
Last night a Ministry of Justice source said: ‘We are holding a summit in the spring during our chair of the Council of Europe to push forward this agenda.
‘The UK wants the court to focus on fundamental values and leave to the member states issues that have already been properly considered by national parliaments and courts, like prisoner voting.’
Soviet Union’s Fatal Flaw Is being Repeated in the USA
Even today, almost exactly 20 years after it happened, Westerners asked to explain the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union tend to serve up theories that flatter preconceived ideological biases. Old-school leftists contend the Soviets simply perverted the noble ideals of socialism. More modernist progressives cluck their tongues at the Soviet Union’s parasitic, cynical, ruling class that enriched itself at the common person’s expense. Dedicated market capitalists point to communism having made entrepreneurship a crime. Civil libertarians make much of the Soviet government’s denial of freedom. And so on.
All these theories can contribute something to the debate, but none of them really tells the full story of the Soviet Union’s collapse. While it can’t explain everything, one theory that flatters neither Left nor Right seems to offer the best way of thinking about the Soviet collapse: The biggest reason the communist empire fell was centralization.
More than anything else, the Soviet Union of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev era strove for central control. Gosplan in Moscow made the major decisions, and nearly every field of human endeavor was organized for the administrative convenience of these central planners. A single corporation owned every airplane, from jumbo jets to crop dusters. One massive plant manufactured almost every civilian automobile. A government ministry even told restaurants what recipes to use.
In the decade before its collapse, the Soviet Union had the world’s largest bank, the biggest newspaper, and the largest hotel. And it didn’t stop there. Despite paying lip service to the preservation of local customs (peasant dance festivals were big), Moscow tried to make everyone in the vast multinational empire learn Russian and adhere to the same Marxist,/materialist worldview.
Convenient as it was for those in charge, this absolute insistence on central control proved disastrously inefficient. While planners with slide-rules and hulking mainframe computers might determine, in theory, that one big auto plant would have lower production costs than a variety of small ones, even a small slip-up (say, a shortage of screws) could put the massive plant down for the count.
Even worse than its obvious inefficiencies, rigid centralization squelched human creativity: Good ideas were worth nothing unless one had the political connections to make them happen. Going off to start a business, write a play, or solve a social problem was forbidden. Under the thumb of aging technocrats who liked military parades and classical music, the nation stagnated, declined, and collapsed.
This state of affairs carries some pretty obvious lessons for those who want to further solidify Washington, DC’s role as the chief arbiter of all things in the national economy: Centralization of economic authority is not only inefficient but, by reducing the number of people in authority, actually tends to increase the likelihood of the genuine catastrophic failures they seek to avoid.
There’s also plenty to take heed of regarding government promotion of business: Bigness does not equate with virtue. Mega-retailers, farmers, trade associations, and corporate tycoons aren’t intrinsically any more--or less--virtuous than urban small businesses, union workers, or single mothers living in public housing. And ideologues on both sides of the political spectrum need to remember that efforts to enforce ideological conformity are inconsistent with the diversity that characterizes a free society.
No single theory, of course, can fully explain why the Soviet Union collapsed so suddenly, but a look at its deeply centralized nature surely explains a great deal--and sends an important warning.
Australia: Foster couple's adoption bid on hold over claims dad hit boy with wooden spoon
The child of a feral couple almost certainly needs a whack at times
A COUPLE has been stopped from adopting two children because of claims they smacked them and once hit one of them with a wooden spoon. The 11-year-old boy and his eight-year-old sister considered the couple who had fostered them for four years to be their parents and called them Mum and Dad, Acting Justice William Windeyer told the NSW Supreme Court.
The children's birth father was in jail on sex offences and their mother, who has another three children, all in care, acknowledged she could not look after them.
The judge said the foster parents were devoted to the children and were "very suitable" to adopt them. However, Justice Windeyer said he was not satisfied there was no risk to the children and he had to take into account the possibility the boy had been hit with a wooden spoon.
The judge postponed a decision on adoption until the end of next year and said, if it was established there was smacking and the use of a wooden spoon, then the children could be removed from the couple.
The judge said the boy had behavioural, physical and mental problems. During an interview with a clinical psychologist the boy said his foster dad hit him with a wooden spoon and it "hurt".
The man denied hitting the boy with a spoon but said he had once banged a wooden spoon on the kitchen bench to get the boy's attention when he was waving a knife around.
The man admitted twice smacking the boy "gently" - once when the boy had a "massive meltdown" and grabbed him by the testicles and a second time when the boy hit him in the ribs.
The judge said he had some sympathy for the man. "It seems impossible where someone is in danger of injury to go for a walk to calm down. After all, the three actions did get a result and no one was harmed," the judge said.
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 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.