NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How the Brits are Dealing With Burglars -- Poorly

February 5, 2003

Where once England's crime rates were low and U.S. rates were sky high, now the reverse is true. Experts fault England's liberal policies toward criminals for the reversal.

Truly, there are some horror stories coming out of Her Majesty's Kingdom.

  • In January, a judge freed a machete-swinging, drug-addict-turned-professional-burglar, who had 51 prior convictions -- on the hope that he would give up crime and develop his "undoubted talent for writing poetry."
  • Authorities high in the government have issued directives to judges not to send first-time and even some second-time burglars to jail, but to sentence them to "community service."
  • In 1999, a farmer was sentenced to life in prison after a shotgun he was waving at burglars accidentally discharged during a scuffle with them and went off, killing one of the burglars.
  • Although that sentence was later reduced on appeal, the farmer was refused early release by a parole board on the grounds he was "a danger to burglars."

Critics fume over the government's seeming preoccupation with banning fox hunting, while an average of 314 homes are being burglarized each day in London. The police solve only 12 percent of these crimes.

Source: Paul Johnson, "Britain: A Thieves' Paradise," Forbes, February 17, 2003.

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