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Official deception on crime

  • January 30th, 2013

Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Spectator of the UK's deceitful reporting of criminal reoffending. He says:

 Nothing could better reveal the hall of mirrors that the British criminal justice system long ago became than the response of Keith Vaz, the chairman of the House of Commons all-party Home Affairs Committee, to very similar news last year. ‘The public,’ he said, ‘must be convinced that community sentences are an effective form of punishment.’

In other words, the problem is not how to make community sentences work, but how to create the misleading public impression that they do. This has for decades been the ruling imperative of that great friend to the British criminal, the Home Office (and now the Ministry of Justice). It struggles might and main not to reduce criminality but to reduce the public’s supposedly neurotic fear of crime, and it does so by sowing confusion — confusion with a roseate glow."

Dalrymple reported that two thirds of young criminals who are electronically tagged, offend or breach the orders under which they are released with tags. Perhaps our figures are not as bad in this area.  Stuff carries criticism of electronic monitoring from another perspective. But we are unlikely ever to know.

Our government approaches recidivism reporting in the same Goebbelian spirit as the UK justice establishement.  For example, though our Police can provide figures for bail offending, Justice in NZ never produce figures for offending by criminals on parole. I asked repeatedly and in different ways. I had a member's bill to require them to produce such data, which was not supported to first reading.

From estimates, If the parole offending figures were known there would be an overwhelming demand for an end to parole. It is fraud to mislead victims into thinking that the courts are delivering justice when they sentence, then to cut the sentences by up to two thirds..

If the government was in trade and therefore subject to the Fair Trading Act penalties for misleading and deceptive conduct, we'd be able to fund new prisons with the penalties on politicians and justice sector officials for breaching the standards of honesty they demand of impose on business people.

Dalrymple is a former prison psychiatrist who has long blown the whistle in this area.


  • peterquixote
  • February 4th, 2013
  • 5:01 pm

Yes, Mr Franks and what a tribute to the freedom of speech, spirit, and intellect opinion you are. I was going to look up the the ” Goebbelian Spirit” you mention, but then suddenly I was just suddenly tired, so I will go over to Farrar now to kick his arse and get him ready for reality

  • Chuck Bird
  • February 8th, 2013
  • 11:46 am

While I agree that almost automatic parole after serving a short time is not good. I believe letting someone out at the end of their sentence with no restrictions increases the chance of re-offending.

The solution lies in ensuring parolees comply with their parole conditions. Perhaps hold government department accountable for crimes committed on parole where their is gross negligence would help.

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