Another day, another crop of Home Office disaster stories.
The reverse foreign criminal scandal.
Acpo spokesman, Paul Kernaghan, told MPs that until his association took over the job of updating criminal records last year, offences committed overseas were not being entered into the Police National Computer (PNC).
Instead, information on convictions was left "sitting in desk files" at the Home Office rather than being properly examined.
In total, details of 27,529 cases were left in files at the Home Office, according to Acpo.
Which the Home Office were unaware of.
Home Secretary John Reid, who was only told about the issue on Tuesday, held an emergency meeting with police and the Criminal Records Bureau the next morning.
He later announced an internal inquiry would take place.
Or were they ?.
Chief constables wrote to Tony McNulty, the Police Minister, three months ago and the letter was then passed to Joan Ryan, a junior minister.
The letter advised Mr McNulty that given earlier problems over foreign national prisoners it might be wise for the Home Secretary to be briefed on the issue.
Ms Ryan’s office acknowledged the letter in December, according to a report on ITV news.
The row almost overshadows the everyday Home Office fare.
The absconding prisoners.
Opposition parties have criticised the Prison Service after its head admitted not knowing the number of inmates on the run from open jails in England.
Phil Wheatley said there was no central system to count escapees who had been recaptured, but such a database would now be developed.
The policy of putting killers in open prisons.
Duncan MacNeil, 41, and Paul Michael Neale, 50, were reported missing from Sudbury Open Prison on Wednesday.
MacNeil from London was jailed for life in 1982. Neale was sentenced to life imprisonment in Bristol in 1983 for a murder in Wiltshire.
On Sunday, Gary Smith, 41, from Liverpool, convicted of manslaughter in 2002, failed to return to the prison after temporary release.
The decriminalisation of many crimes.
Just half of the penalty notices for disorder are paid within the required 21 days; offenders who fail to pay may still end up in court. A Whitehall consultation paper last month revealed that each penalty notice costs £91 to enforce - more than the value of the penalty.
The notices for disorder followed Tony Blair's claim that yobs would think twice before misbehaving if they faced being marched to a cash machine and fined on the spot.
How can such things be ? How can the criminal justice system (CJS) be in such a mess ? Call me naive, but I'm wondering if the culture of the people running it has a bearing.
There was a wonderful student photo of Sir Kenneth Macdonald in the Sunday Times when he got the job of head of the Crown Prosecution Service. A classic hippy circa 1972. This was around the time he was convicted of sending cannabis through the post to a friend.
Take a look at the head of the Youth Justice Board, Rod Morgan. Or at the rest of the board - let's see, a social worker who's a trustee of the Refugee Council, a former "Chief Inspector of Careers Services within the DfES", a former BBC Religious Affairs correspondent, a child psychiatrist, a children's charity worker (for the Church of England Children's society, a body who believe that no child should ever be imprisoned - including the Bulger killers), a magistrate, another charity wonk who also works for the left think-tank the IPPR, a "regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4" and a "Professor of European Youth Policy at the University of Glamorgan (formerly Bridgend Technical College)".
You can see why youth crime is almost non-existent, can't you ?
Last, read the CV of Helen Edwards (profiled in yesterday's Times), newly appointed head of the Offender Management Service NOMS, the body tasked with keeping the lags on the straight and narrow while they're being supervised 'in the community'.
Sociology at Warwick and Sussex Unis in the early 70s, two centres of leftwing student radicalism. Social worker with Sussex Council. Then charity work with Save the Children before 18 years at the pro-criminal lobby group NACRO.
From Chief Exec at NACRO to Home Office, Director of Active Communities Directorate 2002-04; Director-General of Communities Group 2004-06.
Is this a CV which will have criminals quaking in their boots and vowing to turn over a new leaf ?
(She came from a charity to the Home Office. Her predecessor, Martin Narey, has left the Home Office - to go to a charity. One which gets a lot of taxpayer cash, of course. As one door closes another opens.)
People like these have been in charge of our criminal justice system for thirty-odd years, with the happy results noted at the start of this post.
We can see the touch of the Youth Justice Board in the treatment of Alan Steel, a 26-year old smackhead with four previous convictions for dangerous driving and 13 previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified, dating back to June 1996. I wonder what other convictions he had ?
He was free and on the streets to pay £700 (doubtless saved from his paper round) for a second hand jeep. Pausing only to fill up with fuel, heroin and methadone, he set off on a ride which ended in the death of Paula Stead and a ten-year old girl losing a leg.
Not much Youth Justice for Danica Green, was there ?
A girl of ten screamed 'I hate you' across a courtroom yesterday at the hit-and-run driver who left her with one leg and killed her aunt.
From her wheelchair, Danica Green shook and wiped away tears as she unleashed her fury on Alan Steel.
She has undergone months of surgery and emotional counselling since Steel, high on heroin and driving 'like a maniac' to escape police, mounted a pavement and ploughed into her, her aunt Paula Stead, 32, and Mrs Stead's daughter Bridie, 11.
Danica was knocked to the ground before the wheels of the black Cherokee crushed her legs. Bridie was thrown into the air. Mrs Stead was swept on to the windscreen and carried along before being thrown into the middle of the road. She died instantly from injuries which included a fractured skull, a gash to the head, 18 rib fractures, a ruptured spleen and a ruptured liver.
But the story has a quasi-happy ending - the killer's been "jailed indefinitely". Huzzah !
Steel was told he will only be released from prison when probation officials believe he is no longer a danger to the public. He will have to serve at least five years.
When probation officials believe he is no longer a danger to the public ? He'll be out this weekend, then.
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