Monday, 16th June saw a ‘new’ set of proposals to reorganise the criminal justice system to tackle crime. Included this time are proposals to ‘toughen up’ community service by renaming it ‘community payback’ (it was renamed unpaid work not that long ago too!), forcing offenders to wear bright yellow bibs.
To give it that extra New Labour touch, in common with almost every new piece of policy, the probation service is going to be forced to contract the provision of this out.
Other proposals include giving more powers to Police Community Support Officers so they can detain people and hand out on the spot fines. Also included in the proposals are the idea of putting up posters of those convicted (to ‘name and shame’ them) as well as appointing a commissioner to the sentencing guidance council to ‘represent the public’ – the very fact this proposal is there shows how out of touch the government is with ordinary people.
Socialist Approach Needed
Fundamentally, the proposals offer nothing new, they are just another set of suggestions to make New Labour appear ‘tough on crime’. It is an incredibly slight change in style and contains no new substance at all. The whole approach of New Labour, along with the other major capitalist parties is to attack the symptoms of the problem and not the real cause – the capitalist system that they seek to defend.
As capitalism is going into recession in Britain then these problems will only get worse – unemployment will increase, big business will tighten the screws on wages and conditions for those who remain in work. If young people (and many other people for that matter) thought the future was grim over the last few years, under capitalism it will get a whole lot worse.
In response to the bleak future of the profit system, socialists argue for a society that meets people’s needs. Affordable, quality housing, well-paid jobs, provision of activities and youth centres for young people would all undermine the economic basis for widespread crime that capitalism’s deepening crisis is providing.
But this is not all socialists propose. Instead of appointing out of touch people to represent ordinary people, socialists suggest practical measures to fight crime such as democratic control of local policing so that the local community can tackle the problems that it feels most threatened by, functioning within a democratically organised criminal justice system. Then instead of having to rely on ever tougher gimmicks to prove to the public that something is being done about crime, people can see through their own involvement what is being done and have a genuine input rather than being used as pawns by capitalist politicans to justify increasingly repressive laws.
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