The Sentencing Council, which describes itself as ‘an independent, non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice’ is quickly becoming a determined agent of injustice, tyranny and disorder.
The stated aim of the council to ‘ensure a consistent approach to sentencing’ is in direct contrast to its recommendations reported two months ago that perpetrators of violent crime and possession of weapons should be given lighter sentences if they come from a minority group or a deprived background.
You can either have ‘consistency in sentencing’ or an ‘ad hoc’ system which treats every person differently. You cannot have both. This grotesque violation of equality before the law, the importance of which has been largely forgotten in modern Britain, has been undermined for decades by an increasingly authoritarian and ignorant political class. If British citizens know that they do not have an equal stake in our criminal justice system, resentment will build and contempt for the law will spread. The Sentencing Council appear unaware that they are playing with fire.
Advocates of inequality before the law frequently assert that because people start their lives in different circumstances, equal treatment by the authorities amounts to unfairness. For example, someone born in a deprived, crime-ridden inner city area in a single parent house, receiving free school dinners and leaving school with few opportunities is far more likely to be drawn into crime than someone born into a prosperous, two-parent, upper-middle class family in a leafy Surry provincial town. This all may be true. However, attempting to equalise this situation will create a far more pervasive and damaging injustice. The fact that the vast majority of economically deprived people remain law abiding citizens casts the fairness of this policy into doubt. It is no way inevitable that poverty leads to crime, despite the constant assertion that it does by leftists who continually show themselves to be guilty of the bigotry of low expectations. The victims of violent crime are overwhelmingly the law abiding, impoverished people this leniency effectively abandons. If word gets around that there is no meaningful punishment for violent crime, criminals develop an aura of untouchability and their victims a sense that the law will not protect them if they report it. What is fair about that? A majority, guilty of no crime, condemned to live in fear in order to make life easier for a criminal minority who prey on them is a far greater injustice than the accident of birth the Sentencing Council is attempting to address.
Contrast this leniency with a recommendation by the council announced today. It has been reported that it has recommended tougher sentences for ‘hate criminals’. This is a terrifying proposal which could serve to silence a large number of people who dare to criticise things such as Sadiq Kahn’s failure to tackle increasing violent crime in London, mass immigration, and Islamism, all things frequently described by many on the left as ‘hate speech’. When ‘hate crime’ can be defined by the perception of second or third parties, a standard of evidence set out by the CPS and several police services, this will create an atmosphere of denunciations, fear and tyranny, more characteristic of the GDR than the UK. Losing one’s livelihood is frightening enough; the prospect of a six month prison sentence for a social media post is terrifying enough to silence most people. Even if a social media poster is sure that the content they post is in no way inciting religious or racial hatred, who will be willing to take the risk?
These recommendations will undergo a three month consultation period and we can only hope voices of reason on this subject will be heard before it is too late.