What are the chances parents will shop their kids to the police now?


by Flying Rodent    
8:45 am - August 19th 2011

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Let this be a lesson then – if your kid is out of control and needs a short, sharp shock, why not just trap them in their rooms and nail the doors and windows shut for a week, or debag them and chuck them out of your car in front of their school?

Hell, why not just beat them down with a rolling pin?

I’d take that over any amount of jail time, since prisons – for men or women, and young offenders’ institutions – are about the most godawful, dismal places in the country.

I’d say the level of brutalisation involved in both is at very least equivalent, and the only people I can think of who avoid serious harm to their long-term prospects from jail are newly-remodelled crims-turned-true-crime writers.

Half the nation applauded Mrs Ives when she shopped her daughter to the police for being involved in rioting.

Here’s the lesson that other parents in similar circumstances just learned – hand your child in to the police to admit their guilt and take their punishment, and in all likelihood a magistrate will take their repentance into account – and then throw the fucking book at them, pour discourager les autres.

I’m considerably less shocked at the sentences being handed out to looters and rioters than many, it seems, but even I find this tactic of hammering absolutely everyone a bit surprising.

Make no mistake, it’ll discourage les autres just fine. But if I’d have second thoughts about speaking to the coppers about a loved one now, you’d better believe that everyone else has taken notice too.

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About the author
Flying Rodent is a regular contributor and blogs more often at: Between the Hammer and the Anvil. He is also on Twitter.
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Reader comments


It gets better – shop your child and then face eviction from your council house.

2. Robert the crip

I do not know what to say really, would I report my kids for Rioting no, would I allow them to get away with ssaying beating up people no.

But the respect I had for the local Police went at the miners strike anyway.

3. the a&e charge nurse

According to this straw poll 86% of parents WOULDN’T hand over their rioting teenager to the police (based on the premise an 18 year old teenage child had stolen a bottle of water from a shop during the riots) – I assume the scenario was inspired by Nicholas Robinson, sentenced to 6 months in prison due to opportunistic evian shopping.
http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/86-of-parents-wouldnt-hand-over-their-rioting-teenager-to-the-police/

Of course for facebook incitement the jail time increases by a factor of 8 if we take evian theft as a baseline.

I’m with Toby Young on this one – words I thought I’d never hear myself say
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14516137

The state demands loyalty to itself before loyalty to your family, have your sons and daughters been undermining the credibility of the ConDems? Please inform a policeman straight away.

I’d take that over any amount of jail time, since prisons – for men or women, and young offenders’ institutions – are about the most godawful, dismal places in the country.

Which prison did you attend, and if its not too personal what did you do?

‘Which prison did you attend, and if its not too personal what did you do?’

Well, I’ve got no personal experience but I have worked with ex-offenders and they tend to come out of prison more damaged than before, better schooled in crime, and practically unempoloyable.

The State’s response has been as rational and well considered as that of the rioters themselves.

Morally, punishing people disproportionately as a ‘deterent’ is not only punishing them for their *own* crimes, or even the crimes of *others*, its punishing them for other crimes *other people* *won’t* commit.

And it makes no economic or pragmatic sense either. If people want disproportionate sentences let them pay the cost of keeping them there, further taxation for the police needed to deal with better ‘educated’ criminals, and the decades of benefit many of them will have to survive on.

7. flyingrodent

Which prison did you attend, and if its not too personal what did you do?

None, thankfully. I did spend a good chunk of my 20s working in courts, which meant a lot of close contact with both prison staff and their customers, and with various colleagues who regularly enter prisons for professional reasons. Mrs R has been reluctantly forced to visit both HMP Peterhead and Cornton Vale in the past, the latter of which is the women’s prison and is both mind-bendingly grim and plagued with a shockingly high suicide rate.

If you’re interested in the penal system, there are plenty of books and documentaries you could pick up – this one was about as bleak as you’d expect, although it’s not available on iPlayer any more. It probably will be somewhere, though. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00dxctr

There’s also the HM Inspectors of Prisons for Scotland and the one for England & Wales, both of whom regularly publish detailed surveys of the prison estate and its major failings on their websites. A quick Google will track them down.

8. ex-Labour voter

There is a very nasty campaign underway against the rioters in general.
Taking away benefits/taking away housing from them or their families. This issue is being used to promote an attack on the welfare state in general. It is promoting the idea that people are not entitled to decent housing etc in the first place.

What will come next. Denying medical treatment to people with a rioting conviction?

I see that Wandsworth council wants to make homeless the family of someone who has not even been convicted.

What we are moving towards is a situation where you can only have things if you do what the government tells you in the first place. There has been talk, for instance, of giving servicemen priority for housing. So you can only have a house if you agree to participate in an invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq first. This is wrong.

Personally, I had the same thoughts as Hitchens the Hysterical: 1, these guys are the dregs of the looting population, those too stupid to run away in time, and those so stupid that they hand themselves in; 2, the sentences are ridiculous, because ordinarily no one gives much of a fsck about law and order, and therefore these offences would be the kind of things that do not shock or interest but are rather mundane and unremarkable, and would be treated as such.

@6 – Thanks, Ill check it out as soon as the gaffers back is turned

@ex-labourvoter

The commitment to boot the families of those convicted of rioting/looting offences out of council housing is already having the desired effect

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2027664/London-riots-Della-Collins-fearing-eviction-chooses-1m-council-house-son-Jermaine.html

1. Jail a minor criminal
2. Encourage his family to shun him
3. Deny him benefits
4. ???????
5. Britain is not broken any more

12. flyingrodent

Chris Dillow has a much better post than this one up, dealing with similar themes…

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2011/08/the-death-of-conservatism.html

When the Sentencing Council expresses reservations about the penalties being handed out to rioters then we should be concerned. They have kept pretty quiet in the past so something must have changed.

Perhaps it is right that stiff sentences are handed down to people who have been part of a group causing damage, ruining livelihoods and scaring the wits out of everyone else.

Part of the frustration must be that such a description suits parts of the financial sector, yet justice has been slow to nonexistent for the culprits (I know there are good reasons, I’m talking about many people’s emotional responses, not rationality).

In particular people are disgusted to hear MPs who have merrily committed fraud and suffered little or no consequences for the thousands they embezzled spouting off about tough justice for stealing a bottle of water or receiving a pair of stolen shorts.

I have little sympathy for rioters but justice must be seen to be consistent, balanced and impartial. When some people seem above the law and then the law appears to respond to politicians hopping on a bandwagon, people are right to be concerned.

THE DEATH OF CONSERVATISM

And Chris is only, what, a few decades late…?

I also find his reasoning to be utterly tendentious. The reader is meant to understand that, since mob violence has always been with us, the riots have no significance whatsoever, and that since nothing can be done to ameliorate the conditions under which the riots occurred without offending Mr Dillow’s liberal sensibilities, nothing should even be attempted. In other words, moral decline is not so bad, and besides, even if it is, we can’t do anything about it.

@10 Urg, that article is vile, did they really need to keep mentioned how much the council house might have been worth through it all?

@13

and that since nothing can be done to ameliorate the conditions under which the riots occurred without offending Mr Dillow’s liberal sensibilities

Well given the post contains this sentence:

It could be, then, that sporadic riots are less costly than the redistributive policies that would remove poverty and disaffection, or the statist interventions (assuming them to be feasible) that would remove bad parenting or reverse moral degradation.

Can we assume you are then in favour of either redistributive policies or statist interventions?

17. Robert the crip

Red Tory- ism, did not understand what it was supposed to me, well I do now Blood.

But the people who burned homes, knocked people off bikes and then robbed them I have no time for. and why these people are being sent to jails in Scotland and Wales I’ve no idea.

On the news now the Asian who was robbed it was gentle tell that to him he was in hospital having a plate into him broken jaw.

18. Shatterface

‘Taking away benefits/taking away housing from them or their families. This issue is being used to promote an attack on the welfare state in general. It is promoting the idea that people are not entitled to decent housing etc in the first place.’

Benefits should be given according to need alone, and be entirely seperate from the penal system.

19. Sevillista

A former appeal court judge, Sir Mark Potter, has defended the fact that judges are influenced by public sentiment in assessing punishments.

In a policy document for the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, Sir Mark said “Judges should have regard to public opinion, if not necessarily follow it, and in this respect, they are largely reliant on, and to a degree influenced by, the responsible media”

Interesting. Tabloid editors (and foreign media owners) apparently have a legitimate role to play in influencing the “independent judiciary” by summarising “public opinion”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/18/riots-prison-terms-sentencing-council

Totally off subject but after readign that DM link has anyone noticed that every day there is a story with a similar theme “Outrage at 12 or 13 year child posing in underwear” followed by at least ten photos of said child.

Yesterday there was one and today there is one about a fifteen yeard old. It should be called the daily nonce.

If someone would like to write somethingabout that it would be good

The death of Conservatism?

Was the crowd that gathered outside the Russian Parliament building in August 1991 to protect it from the KGB coup against Gorbachev, a Conservative or a Radical mob?

As Shakespeare put it: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

As for Thomas Hobbes: “For words are wise men’s counters; they do but reckon by them: but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other doctor whatsoever”
Leviathan (1660) Bk.1 Chp.4

As widely remarked in the 1980s, by breaking with the post-war consensus, Mrs Thatcher wasn’t a conservative.

22. the a&e charge nurse

[11] that’s about the most sensible analysis I’ve read so far (link to Chris Dillow’s piece) – I agree entirely that nobody anticipated this particular pattern of rioting – but what has been very instructive is the tendency to explain unexplainable events with entirely predictable strands of left or right wing ideology.

I will make one observation – technology will play an increasingly important part in all manner of social disturbances, wars and so on – and it was the immediate availibility and access to communication technology that had a big impact on the way the rioting escalated.

Perhaps that’s why an ill-considered facebook message landed 2 men in jail for 4 years?

23. Roger Mexico

Generally it’s clear that a number of magistrates and local judges have decided to go in for displays of chest-beating and the one in Cheshire, faced with the Facebook ‘culprits’ was dismayed by lack of any actual riots to punish, decided that he wasn’t going to let that spoil his fun.

The trouble with such situations is that context is everything. The social media generation treat those media very lightly, more lightly possibly than speech, and affected by a whole range of conventions which can alter the apparent meaning of what is ‘said’. However for an older generation and for the law, these all count as ‘writing’ and is therefore treated both as being fixed in meaning and with utmost seriousness.

But this culture clash does risk alienating a generation from the justice system, because they see it as handing down judgements they see as literal nonsense – rather as if the Courts prosecuted the cast of a Shakespeare play for all the crimes they portrayed therein.

@8, not only that, the Mail on Sunday’s star columnist would also point out that prisons would not be “the most godawful, dismal places in the country” if they were run properly, i.e. by the authorities rather than the inmates. You would not worry so much about your child going to prison if it were a disciplined prison with properly enforced rules.

I’m sure that Shatterface is right when he says: “I have worked with ex-offenders and they tend to come out of prison more damaged than before, better schooled in crime, and practically unempoloyable.” I’ve heard this many times from many different sorts of people. The question for all of us should be: is this a consequence of prison in general, or a specific consequence of present-day badly-run prisons? To assume the former is to jump to a conclusion.

I think it probably would be ok to hand out the sorts of sentences we are seeing recently, if those sentences were not so massively disproportionate to business as usual, and so obviously being handed out at the direction of a government anxious to show that it can be “tough” at any cost.

25. flyingrodent

To be clear here, when I said I was less surprised by these sentences, I also mean I’m less worried than most about them.

It’s perfectly normal and justifiable in English law to treat relatively trivial offences far, far more seriously in the context of mobbing and rioting. There are various reasons why the law actually requires this, and while some of them are noble – riots very regularly spiral out of any hope of control and commonly lead to arson, murder and terrorisation of the populace, which is obviously unacceptable even on an occasional basis – others are less so.

So it’s not really out of the ordinary for this kind of thing to happen. The point I’m making here is that, if punishing the maximum number of guilty individuals as possible is the aim, you’ll catch more flies with honey than with a baseball bat. If I was a witness in one of these cases, for example, I’d now be loath to give testimony on anything other than serious charges of violence or fire-raising.

If, on the other hand, the aim is to make as terrifying an example as possible out of each and every rioter or looter, then the current plan is working brilliantly. Handing out the most vicious sentences possible really will deter further riots, since you can bet most of the people who were there know at least one person who’s about to get a free holiday in the big house.

Many of the sentences handed down seem insane to me, but others seem perfectly proportionate. Whether they represent “Justice” is another matter entirely, but I’ll say this for sure – my faith in the reason of the system has been a little shaken, and at the moment I wouldn’t trust a magistrate’s reason enough to consider grassing up a wayward family member who needed to be scared straight.

*As best I can tell, being Scottish.

@21,

Bob your logic is impeccable as ever. Was Chateaubriand also a radical?

27. Planeshift

“and practically unempoloyable.”

How much of this is down to offenders having to declare criminal records and employers not giving them a chance as a result, and how much is down to the characteristics of the offender (lack of qualifications, addiction etc)?

1 flipc actually ,if a kid riots the parent don’t get evicted

29. Shatterface

‘How much of this is down to offenders having to declare criminal records and employers not giving them a chance as a result, and how much is down to the characteristics of the offender (lack of qualifications, addiction etc)?’

You’d be surprised how willing some employers are to give people a second chance – but a CRB check will rule out whole areas of employment, and I don’t just mean working with vulnerable groups (airports, for instance, which can otherwise provide steady porter or baggage handling work for people with few qualifications.)

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 27 Planeshift

“How much of this is down to offenders having to declare criminal records and employers not giving them a chance as a result, and how much is down to the characteristics of the offender (lack of qualifications, addiction etc)?”

Well, it seems that only one of these things is worth worrying about in the context of crime and punishment. If someone is intrinsically unemployable, then they’re not going to be employed, and there’s precious little we can do about that. If someone who would otherwise be employable can’t get a job due to a criminal record, then our crime and punishment system has consigned an individual to either spending their life on benefits or living a life of crime.

‘As widely remarked in the 1980s, by breaking with the post-war consensus, Mrs Thatcher wasn’t a conservative.’

breaking with the post-war consensus, the most civilised this country has ever been, and trying to take us back to the 1880s, made her very conservative.

I’ve never owned a child, so that particular dilemma won’t arise in my life, but I have family members of all ages (including teenagers).

I have to say that I cannot imagine any set of circumstances (with the possible exception of my becoming aware beyond reasonable doubt that one of them was a serial killer or serial rapist) whereby I would shop a member of my own family to The Authorities.

Perhaps I know (or suspect) too much about the performance-target-driven excesses of the police, the politicised nature of the prosecuting services and the class-bias of the judiciary, but if I became aware that a member of my family had done something illegal, I think I would just take them aside, make them aware that I knew about it, but then tell them that it was between them and their own consciences whether they turned themselves in or not. It would then be for them to take the chance.

And this is where the extreme conduct of the authorities in recent months has led those authorities to kick themselves in the goolies. Some of the cases in the last few days are reminiscent of the case of Edward Woollard, who was encouraged by his mother to hand himself over, presumably because she still believed in the myths of The Best Police In The World (TM) and the inherent fairness of the English judiciary, and especially that that myth, that fairness, would certainly apply in the case of the sons and daughters of the ‘respectable’ classes…

…only to find that – despite pleading guilty, co-operating with The Authorities throughout, expressing his remorse and being a first offender – her son was handed a sentence of staggering vindictiveness.

In the same way that the police seem not to understand that their conduct frequently undermines the notion of ‘policing with consent’, which leads to their legitimate job becoming more difficult as a result of often understandable distrust by the public; so too the judiciary seems not to have grasped that their position is also jeopardised by behaving with the petty spite they have shown since they had the restraints upon them removed by a political directive. A system which will not show respect at all times to the proper and proportionate response to events is a system which, ultimately, will lose the respect of enough of the public to make their work difficult to impossible.

Given that anyone handing their offspring over to the bizzies must face the very real possibility of them fscking their child’s life up for good (see <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14556347&quot; for what often happens, even a long time after the sentence of the court has been completed), then – to answer the original question – I would think the chances are reducing, and likely to continue to do so. And I wouldn’t blame them, either.

@31: “breaking with the post-war consensus, the most civilised this country has ever been, and trying to take us back to the 1880s, made her very conservative.”

On the contrary as a matter of history, “Conservatism” is about preserving the best of the old, which is precisely why there was a post-war consensus about many policy issues.

Famously, for decades “Butskellism” prevailed in government policy to manage the economy by demand management and then Geoffrey Howe, as Mrs Thatcher’s first Chancellor, introduced the Medium-Term Financial Strategy, or “monetarism” by another name. That conspicuously failed and was formally abandoned in the autumn of 1985.

What followed with Nigel Lawson’s Chancellorship was a policy muddle, which led to an unsustainable boom and resurgent inflation. His successor as Chancellor, John Major, took us into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, cheered on by the Labour front-bench.

Macmillan dismissed Mrs Thatcher’s privatisation of the nationalised industries as “selling off the family silver”. In 1961, as PM he had announced the creation of the tri-partite National Economic Development Council and Organisation, institutions disbanded by Thatcher governments.

Ian Gilmour belonged to the Conservative “wet” wing in the 1980s. He “did not have good relations with Thatcher. He survived a reshuffle in January 1981, but was sacked on 14 September 1981. He announced that the government was ‘steering full speed ahead for the rocks’, and said that he regretted not resigning beforehand.” [Source: Wikipedia]

@28
“A council tenant whose son has appeared in court charged in connection with Monday night’s disturbances in Clapham Junction will today (Friday) be served with an eviction notice”

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/10626/first_rioter_given_eviction_notice

35. Astrid Essed

WOULD YOU SHOP YOUR CHILD TO THE POLICE/SHOPPING YOUR CHILD TO THE POLICE IS UNNATURAL

Dear Editor and readers,

To my opinion it is an unnatural act, that parents shop their child to the police

The duty of parents is to protect their children and not to shop them to the police, thus destroying the children’s chance on a good career and future
It is also destroying the trust and good relatiion between parents and children
Because if children can’t count on the natural protection, to whom they can turn?

Of course this does NOT mean, that parents agree with criminal facts of their children, because they also have the duty to correct and punish, sometimes sternly, if needed
And it also depends, of course, on the suspected crime

When there is possible murder involved, there is a different story, although even in that case I prefer that parents stmulate their children to go to the police themselves

In case of the riots I think it’s pure nonsense to shop ones children to the police

Looting and burning is not acceptable, but let’s remind the fact, that the whole thing started by the police shooting of a black man, not the first time, but almost ”common” since the eighties of the former century, without proper punishment of the policemen involved
Also the social injustice is a cause to the riots

See also

http://www.phillyimc.org/en/riots-englanduprising-unheard

And besides that, the punishments for some looting were extremely hard
Will parents, who love their children, do that to them?
No, parents love means protecting the child and punish or correcting the child themselves, not to betray them to the police

Kind greetings

Astrid Essed
Human rights activist and a mother of two

Amsterdam
The Netherlands


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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