Friday, May 04, 2007

Today's Early Release Murderer - Peter Tobin

The church handyman was sentenced to 14 years in prison at Winchester Crown Court in Hampshire in 1994 for the assault.

After his release in December 2004, he moved to Paisley, East Renfrewshire but within 10 months the authorities had lost track of him.

The case has once again raised questions over the early release and monitoring of sex offenders.


Has it ? You could have fooled me. Just the other day, as Judy McKnight reports, Lord Falconer was praising (Word doc) the Probation Service 'in marked contrast to the sort of speeches we have heard from John Reid'.

"Underpinning our approach to probation is inevitably a desire to reduce re-offending. Using probation as effectively as we can. Increasing rehabilitation, reducing re-offending, more restorative justice, raising public protection. The challenge we face, and you most particularly on the front line, is that of how to turn the offender into the citizen.

It is not an easy task. Elements of the media and parts of the public see you as a soft touch, not grounded in the real world. They say you are naive. That does you a great disservice, and it is I believe ignorant. The probation service I know retains a realism about what can be achieved, about set backs and relapses without allowing itself to become cynical or jaded. It has dogged determination and patience. By giving people a future to follow, they can leave their past behind. It is the service on whom many people will rely when their lives are mired in crime and everyone else has given up and gone home."


The trouble is that 'setbacks and relapses' translates into 'dead girls under floorboards'. If the Probation Service were a commercial organisation offering a service which caused as many deaths and injuries each year as their decisions do, they would long ago have been closed down and the directors prosecuted. 'Retaining a realism about what can be achieved' seems in practice to boil down to accepting those deaths, injuries and losses.

'It is the service on whom many people will rely when their lives are mired in crime and everyone else has given up and gone home.'

Had he followed that with 'and just as importantly, it is the service on which law-abiding people rely to take the correct decisions to protect them, their families and their property' I could just about swallow it. But, as ever, the focus is on the poor offender, 'mired in crime', as if he fell into it by accident one day.

What's Falconer's problem ? Why won't we get a decent - a just - criminal justice system out of this guy ? He's answered the question himself.

"I have been speaking, seeing, sharing and listening to a great number of people who have a vested interest in the justice system."


You said it.

4 comments:

Martin said...

Laban,

My great aunt was St. Patrick's oldest parishioner. When she passed away in January, just shy of her 97th birthday, we were unable to bury her in the church in which she had undergone every significant religious experience of her life.

My sympathies to the Kluk family on their loss (and I really would be quite disappointed if they ever decided to sue); Martin Macaskill, Anglika's married and almost sociopathically sentimental 'boyfriend' (puke!), should be taken out and quietly neutered like the alley cat he is; and Tobin really should just be forgotten about.

He's done enough harm, and after all the prospect of a 21 year stretch is a very frightening thing for an old man to contemplate.

At this stage I must add that although his conduct seems to have been far from perfect, Father Gerry Nugent was an extremely kind and attentive pastor to Aunty. He may not always have been a good man (he's not out of the woods yet; he has a date to answer a charge of contempt on Tuesday, and thus faces the prospect of being sent down for two years) - but in her case, he carried out his vocation's duties in an exemplary fashion. He was no Talleyrand, no Frollo; and I hope that the days to come will bring him some peace of mind.

Veritas said...

Laban,
your first post reminds me of the story of the social worker who found an old lady, who'd been beaten up and robbed, lying in the road all covered in blood. "My God!" he said."Who did this to you? We must find him: he must have real problems!"

JuliaM said...

"Elements of the media and parts of the public see you as a soft touch, not grounded in the real world. They say you are naive. That does you a great disservice, and it is I believe ignorant."

Only elements...? Of all the people I regularly speak with, it's virtualy 100% that think the Probation Service is a waste of time & money. And rapidly proving more of a danger to the public than the criminals they seem so keen to protect...

Voyager said...

The problem is that The Blair Disaster is trying to privatise the Probation Service and so it is fighting back.

No doubt when it is privatised it will function like private prisons, ie. reduced staff levels...and let the prisoners dictate terms to their hostages ie. prison warders

Personally I favour a Prison Lottery along the lines of the Roman Legions....it would add excitement to dreary lives....and executing 10% prisoners each year would provide annual decimation events which would entertain the morose in prison and help Falconer meet his targets....even Lord Phillips could approve