Law and Order for Guernsey

Are we creating untouchable criminals ?

Tony Hemans    25th March 2010

It seems an unfathomable mystery to me why a society which, ostensibly, values so highly the principles of human rights, abhors racism, and so readily gives to good causes, suffers such high levels of violent crime, mindless vandalism and a culture of dishonesty, both to employer and its fellow man.

It also seems to me that, both in Guernsey and in the United Kingdom, generally, we have sufficient legislation, to counter and punish most crimes. The problem is not the effectiveness of the legislation, but its implementation. This appears deficient in two significant areas.

First, if our police are insufficiently motivated, or incapable of apprehending criminals, crime will inevitably flourish. If they do not have the resources, be it with manpower or equipment, they will not be effective. If they do not have the support of the public, they will feel devalued; if they do not have the support of the sentencing authorities, they will be demotivated.

The actions of those who dispense justice is the second important aspect in the control of crime. It is pointless to promulgate laws that are designed to punish crimes if the sentencing policy is too lenient and allows the criminal to escape justice. Both police and public lose faith in the system and criminality is encouraged. The old adage that punishment should fit the crime should not be ignored by timid and liberal judges and magistrates (Jurats).

Most people would happily pay extra taxes if they knew that their safety would be enhanced and that the perpetrators of crime were punished effectively and deterred from future criminality. The two greatest deterrents to crime are the likelihood of being captured, and the severity of the sentence when apprehended. If, as in the UK, one has a better than 60% chance of avoiding detection of one’s crime, or one knows, be it because of prison overcrowding or a too lenient sentencing policy, that having been caught the consequences were slight, the incidence of crime is bound to be higher.

The public’s major concerns are for the personal safety of their families and themselves, and for the sanctity of their homes and property. They rightly demand that criminals be deterred or punished appropriately, if they offend. They are aware commercial crime exists, but this comes low in their scale of priorities unless it concerns drug abuse or importation, both of which are important considerations.

With all the above in mind, the Guernsey Reform Group, is unashamedly pro Police and Customs and wishes to see the following aspects adopted, or maintained, as government policy:

1. Zero tolerance of the taking, dealing and importation of recreational and hard drugs.

2. Zero tolerance of vandalism and youth crime involving the persecution of domestic residents and the bullying of the weaker fraternity.

3. Zero tolerance of driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

4. Heavier sentences for crimes of violence with no allowance made for the consumption of alcohol prior to the crime.

5. Reform of the penalty system for motorists, allowing the latter to plead guilty by post of minor infringements.

6. Maximum support of the Police, in terms of manpower and resources, but with the formation of a much more powerful Police Watchdog to ensure the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the force.

7. Maximum support of the Customs Service in terms of manpower and resources to fight illegal importation of drugs and other contraband, but again with a powerful Watchdog to ensure Customs are efficient and cost effective.

8. Continuous review of sentencing policy to ensure the public’s aspirations for justice are met.

The Guernsey reform group welcomes the input of the Guernsey electorate to the debate on law and order for the Island so that meaningful ideas can be incorporated into its manifesto.

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