Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

HARM INDEX IS HARMFUL

This blog along with many more authoritative sources has long been sceptical of so called crime statistics.  The use of tick box mentality of recording has long been questioned.  To the despair of many that methodology is so widespread it is endemic among both government and non governmental organisations; the Sentencing Guidelines produced for magistrates and judges  are a perfect example. This "bible" of sentencing attempts to categorise sentences by a combination of harm to the supposed victim and culpability of offender.  And now a "crime harm index" is to be deployed by police to classify the significance of different offences taking into account the number of offenders jailed for the crime including violence, knife and gun crime and the average sentences imposed.  Considering that about 95% of all crime that comes to a court begins and ends in magistrates` courts  with six months custody maximum it is likely that effects of inevitable prioritisation by police will be based on crown court statistics of the remaining 5%. An additional (overlooked?) factor seems to be the designation and weight to be given to suspended sentences where the decision to suspend custody is based primarily on an assessment of the offender as opposed to the effects of the crime itself.  An additional flaw IMHO is that people, I dislike the term so commonly used and abused, victims,   invariably do not have similar or common reactions to the crime inflicted upon them. There are those who can put the experience, however traumatic, behind them and those who wallow in their own misfortune over the most minor transgression to their property, person or psyche. 

It is almost certain that police will use this new indexation to target their diminishing resources and will inevitably issue so called statistical evidence to justify their so called efficiency.  Such activity distorts that which is itself being measured whether it`s GCSE and A Level results or an indication of a hospital`s ability to deal with its workload.  This blogger will need some convincing that this harm index is less than harmful to public accountability of police. 

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