Only crime is getting caught
A LUNATIC taking over the asylum is putting it mildly when it comes to Andrew Ashworth.
No, I've never heard of him either. But after his recent barmy outburst, I wasn't surprised to learn that he is a former crime adviser to the Labour Party.
On Planet Ashworth, locking up thieves and fraudsters – even repeat offenders with dozens of convictions – and "condemning them to prison" is an "abuse of State power". Instead, he says, they should be fined, given community service and forced to pay for the damage they have caused.
What if they have no money? Even worse, if they are on benefits, victims of their crimes would, in effect, be paying their fines for them.
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Ashworth, who is now an Oxford University law professor, said jail was "disproportionate" for what he called "pure" property offences, including theft, handling stolen goods, criminal damage and fraud. Depriving someone of their liberty for an offence that "only" targeted property was unfair, he claimed, arguing that jail should be reserved for violent and sexual crimes.
As an example, he described the theft of £250 worth of clothes from a store as "in the overall scale of things...not serious harm". Try telling that to Ray Chisholm, after a raid on his Gloucester Park Cafe left him down by £1,300.
Our former Prime Minister, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair – or Saint Tony, or Mr President, or whatever he likes to be called these days, never delivered on his promise of "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". Now we know why – he was under the influence of a mad professor who probably warned him that putting criminals in jail is a breach of their human rights.
What the prof, and many others, seem to forget is that a jail term was intended to be a punishment in the good old days. But now, people like Professor Ashworth consider the police and prison officers to be part of the social services department and their main job to be the provision of tea and sympathy for offenders.
After all, if you didn't insist on owning a laptop or iPhone, the poor, unfortunate burglars wouldn't be forced to steal them, would they?