Thursday, December 06, 2012
Appalling British judge
A judge who told a burglar that stealing from homes took 'a huge amount of courage' before setting him free has been formally reprimanded.
Judge Peter Bowers admitted he could be pilloried for sparing Richard Rochford from prison at Teesside Crown Court when he made the comment in September.
David Cameron got involved in the outcry that followed saying that burglars were cowards, not brave, and their crimes were 'hateful'.
Following an investigation, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have upheld complaints about the judge’s comments and issued him with a reprimand after his remarks 'damaged public confidence in the judicial process', the Office for Judicial Complaints said.
They believed the use of the word courage was a 'serious error of judgement' and 'offensive' to those who have been victims of a burglary, according to a letter from the OJC to one of the complainants, radio presenter Nick Ferrari.
Judge Bowers told an offender who raided three homes in five days: 'It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve.'
Handing 26-year-old Richard Rochford, from Redcar, a suspended 12-month term, the judge said: 'I’m going to take a chance on you', the Evening Gazette newspaper reported.
After acknowledging the trauma burglary victims face, the judge explained he would not jail Rochford, who had quit drugs since the February break-ins. He was given a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation and 200 hours’ unpaid work, with a one-year driving ban.
Following the case, Mr Ferrari, who presents the LBC 97.3 breakfast show, sent a written complaint to the OJC after he was contacted by thousands of listeners venting their anger at the judge’s remarks.
He said: 'These comments appear to praise this individual even though he was found guilty of his crime. In addition to this the sentence seems to reward this man for his behaviour rather than punish. 'He could have been jailed for two-and-a-half years but instead he was given a suspended 12-month jail sentence.
'The comment and the sentence has upset and angered my listeners, many of whom have been victims of burglaries.'
Following the decision to reprimand the judge, the OJC replied: 'Whilst His Honour Judge (HHJ) Bowers regrets his use of the word ‘courage’ the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice believe that this was a serious error of judgment and offensive to those who have been victims of a burglary.
'They also believe that HHJ Bowers’ conduct has been damaging to the respect of the judicial process. For this reason, HHJ Bowers has been issued with a formal reprimand.'
Announcing the decision, an OJC spokesman said: 'His Honour Judge Peter Bowers has been issued with a reprimand following complaints about remarks he made during his sentencing of a burglar at Teesside Crown Court.
'The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice considered his comments to have damaged public confidence in the judicial process.'
Autumn Statement: British PM announces bureaucracy cuts to fund schools
Good if it happens
Thousands of civil servants are expected to be sacked under plans to raise £5 billion in the Autumn Statement for building new roads and schools to help stimulate the economy.
David Cameron and George Osborne are ordering government departments to reduce their administration costs in a move that could see one in four civil servants sacked in some departments.
The Prime Minister said the Government would cut "unnecessary spending" and put the money into infrastucture projects to help drive economic growth.
Speaking on a visit to Corpus Christi School in Brixton, south London, the Prime Minister said: "Government departments aren't actually spending up to their budgets so I think we can say to them, you've got to cut back some spending, including some unnecessary spending.
"Let's put that money into things that will make a difference in our country and in our economy - more roads, more school buildings, more infrastructure to make our economy work better, to make our country work better."
Nick Clegg said the plans would mean Government money was used for the best possible purposes as it would not be "tied up in Whitehall".
The Deputy Prime Minister said: "We now know that it's going to take longer to clear up the mess left by Labour than we'd once hoped and that's why we're even more determined in the Coalition Government to do it as fairly as possible, to spread the burden as evenly as possible so that we can wipe the slate clean for our children and our grandchildren.
"Today's announcement is all about making sure that the money we do have available to us is used for the best possible purposes - not tied up in Whitehall but used to rebuild schools, to improve our transport infrastructure, to invest in the things that this country needs for the long term.
"Everybody accepts in Government that when money's tight, when everybody is having to tighten their belts and when everybody is facing very stretching bills for households up and down the country, we have a responsibility to taxpayers and the nation make sure the money we do have is used for the best possible purposes.
"I can't think of a better purpose than spending £1 billion on expanding school buildings so that children can go to school in their local area where there are insufficient places."
The Chancellor will detail which departments are to face the greatest reductions when he gives his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
He will ask his colleagues to find more savings after seeing how Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, slashed more than 1,000 jobs in his department.
Mr Osborne told the Cabinet today that he wants to spend the £5 billion of savings on building projects over next two years. These will include new schools, roads, science schemes and skills projects, Downing Street said.
Whitehall departments will be asked to save an additional one per cent on their budgets next year and two per cent in 2014, on top of savings set out in when the Coalition came to power.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said there was clearly potential to make further savings in the running costs of Whitehall.
He said government departments were being urged to raise their game to the "best in class", and hailed the example of cost cutting at the Department for Education. Michael Gove's department is cutting its running costs by 50 per cent and making 1,000 staff redundant, a quarter of its workforce.
“It is certainly possible to drive further efficiencies through departments if everyone moves up to best in class," the PM's spokesman said.
“So for example, if you look at what Department for Education has been doing on their admin spending and if you saw other departments taking a similar approach we would be able to find additional savings.
“Clearly spending on frontline services will continue to be prioritised. We certainly want to deal with admin budgets and reduce admin budgets.”
Senior Downing Street figures and ministers have expressed frustration over the way the Civil Service has been slow to implement reforms.
An internal Department for Education review earlier this year criticised the Civil Service’s “slow and laborious” working style for sapping the “energy” of staff.
Under the radical plan for speeding up the way officials work, one in four civil servants at the DfE will be dismissed and the remaining staff will focus “ruthlessly” on ministers’ priorities.
The £5 billion of new investment will be spent over the next two years and targeted at transport, skills, science and schools. Officials said £1 billion would be spent on new schools, funding extra places in areas with the greatest demand from young families.
Some 100 new academies and free schools are expected to be built in the next two years, with the money.
The cuts apply directly to England only, but there will be knock-on effects for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under the complicated formula which determines central funding for the different parts of the United Kingdom.
Local government will be exempted from the cuts in the first year, as it is already having to find savings to deliver a council tax freeze, but councils will be required to meet the 2% cut in 2014/15. The NHS budget and spending on international aid are also expected to be protected.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence will be given more flexibility to retain funding that it has not spent, which last year amounted to almost £400 million. As a result, ministers believe that there will be no cuts to military manpower or core MoD budgets.
The cuts across Whitehall departments relate to day-to-day resource spending, rather than capital spending projects.
The Treasury calculates that the cuts mean that the new investment falls within the Government's existing plans and will not involve further state borrowing.
Mr Osborne is under pressure to boost growth with a raft of major new construction projects, after the UK headed back into recession this year.
An Australian State Government will hear plan to give serial indigenous offenders work and education 'sentences' instead of jail time
This is a laugh. Aborigines can repeat word for word what do-gooders tell them but it doesn't alter their behaviour
VIOLENT and serial indigenous offenders would no longer be jailed but given a work and education "sentence" under a plan to be taken to the Newman Government.
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine will meet with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie next month to talk about his controversial proposal, which has been bankrolled by some of Australia's richest people.
Mr Mundine, speaking exclusively to The Courier-Mail, warned that the growing indigenous jail population was a "ticking time bomb" and "we are setting up a future in 10-15 years where there will be a large criminal (indigenous) element operating".
The boss of Queensland's jails, Marlene Morison said the number of non-indigenous prisoners had fallen from 4130 in 2006 to 3988 in 2011, but the number of indigenous prisoners has crept from 1519 to 1666 in the same period.
"It's our only growth area, while all our other numbers are coming off."
Mr Mundine is the chief executive officer of GenerationOne, which is funded by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, casino-king James Packer, media mogul Kerry Stokes, supermarket entrepreneur Frank Lowy and trucking legend Lindsay Fox. It aims to swap detention for jobs and education.
Under Mr Mundine's blueprint, a magistrate would have the option of sending an indigenous offender to work, linked with educational outcomes, and if they failed to turn-up, then they would be sent to jail.
"Criminal records have been identified as a barrier to employment. GenerationOne is now looking at juvenile justice, and how employment and education should be a viable alternative to youth incarceration," Mr Mundine said.
"I'm not a touchy, feely, bang the bongo drums and sing songs around the camp fire person . . . (and) that's why I don't have a problem with boot camps, it's about discipline.
"We're living in the 21st century and people have got to work. Jobs - some of them couldn't spell it let alone anything else."
Mr Mundine said he hadn't seen any evidence that showed locking up kids resolved youth offending.
Amsterdam to expel nuisance neighbours
Amsterdam is to create villages where nuisance neighbours and anti-social tenants will be exiled from the city and rehoused in caravans or containers with "minimal services" under constant police supervision.
The new camps have been dubbed "scum villages" because the plan echoes a proposal from Geert Wilders, the leader of a populist right-wing party, for special units to deal with persistent troublemakers.
"Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighbourhood and sent to a village for scum," he suggested last year. "Put all the trash together."
The Dutch capital already has a squad of municipal officials to identify the worst offenders for a compulsory six-month course on how to behave. Social housing problem families or tenants who do not show an improvement or refuse to go to the special units face eviction and homelessness.
Eberhard van der Laan, Amsterdam's mayor, has tabled the plan to tackle 13,000 complaints of anti-social behaviour every year. He complained that long-term harassment often led to law-abiding tenants, rather than their nuisance neighbours, being driven out.
"This is the world turned upside down," the mayor said at the weekend.
The project also involves setting up a hotline and system for victims to report their problems to the authorities.
A spokesman for the mayor denied the new projects would be punishment camps for "scum", but stressed that the units would aim to enforce good behaviour. "The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent," he said.
The tough approach taken by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam's famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.
There are already several small trial projects in the Netherlands, including in Amsterdam, where 10 shipping container homes have been set aside for offenders, under 24-hour supervision from social workers and police.
The new policy will come into effect in January, when the first offenders will be moved to the new units.
In the 19th century, troublemakers were moved to special villages in Drenthe and Overijssel outside Amsterdam. The villages were rarely successful, becoming sink estates for the lawless.
"We have learned from the past," said the mayor's spokesman.
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, 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. Email me (John Ray) here.