Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More of The Same Claptrap

The Sun reports today that the government intends to increase the minimum term of imprisonment for those who murder using a knife. The paper claims this as a 'victory' for its campaign. Here is the Times report.

This is an absolutely typical piece of Straw's Law, and it will be bad law for a number of reasons:-

It will be introduced by Statutory Instrument, bypassing proper Parliamentary scrutiny.

It will be introduced to satisfy a media campaign driven by a prominent case in which the victim was the brother of a TV celebrity.

It takes no account of the fact that every case is different and turns on its own facts.

If it allows, as it should, judges to make exceptions where they think it to be just to do so, it will be meaningless. If not there will be injustice.

It will specify a 25-year starting point for a murder using a knife, but not for an axe, or a chainsaw, or a piece of wood with nails in, or any of the myriad weapons that humans use to maim and kill each other.

It will have not the slightest effect at street level. Someone prepared to risk a 15-year stretch isn't going to pack it in and take up embroidery because the ante has been upped to 25 years.

Hard cases make bad law. They are about to make another one.

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