As a lifelong champion of progress, I welcome the news that, while the crime rate in Britain is the highest in 10 years, the number of arrests has been halved during the same period.
At the same time I indignantly renounce those conservatives – reactionaries! fossils! scum! – who maintain that the number of arrests (and convictions!) should reflect the number of crimes. That only goes to show how far they are behind our enlightened times.
I must admit to my eternal shame that I used to hold similarly revolting views. But then my two appearances on BBC TV shows devoted to this very subject disabused me of such antediluvian notions.
My fellow panellists explained in simple terms even I could understand that society fails some poor innocent lambs and drives them to crime. It’s society that’s at fault, but it’s as impossible to slap the whole society in prison as it’s illogical to punish so-called criminals.
Admittedly, it’s unavoidable that some of those people have failed to realise their boundless moral and intellectual potential so badly that they have to be incarcerated. But that can only happen on the universal understanding that punishment has nothing to do with it.
The function of prison is to help those poor souls re-find their way, thereby realising said potential. This can only be achieved by putting at their disposal Sky TV, PlayStations, exercise facilities and – should they desire them – drugs.
Hence, having done their time, they’ll re-enter society as morally regenerated and intellectually elevated subjects of Her Majesty. Especially since the new law will soon enable them to exercise their rights by voting while in prison. I welcome this development for two reasons.
First, that way those law-and-order reactionaries will have less chance to be elected to the mother of all parliaments. And second, when he was still PM, Dave Cameron said that the very thought of prisoners voting made him “physically sick”. The joy of Dave’s suffering such pain would by itself be sufficient reason to cheer the new legislation.
True, statisticians (reactionary fossils to a man, or rather person) produce data showing that last year 400,000 newly rehabilitated innocents reoffended within a year of their release.
But that can only mean two things. Either, as is probable, statisticians are lying, or the Sky TV available in prison doesn’t have enough channels to ensure speedy moral renewal.
A valid logical point can be made as well, that, if no one ever went to prison, the problem of rehabilitation wouldn’t arise. It’s this logic that must keep our police from investigating petty crimes like robbery, burglary and physical assault.
But that doesn’t mean they’re idle. On the contrary, the police are busier than ever with crimes that have only recently been recognised as such. The most recent footprints left by the march of progress, they require as much police time as possible.
One new category is historic sex abuse, and I blush at the thought that in the distant past I myself wasn’t pristine in that regard.
A typical pattern involves an old dear who, even though she doesn’t remember much of anything else, suddenly recalls that, back in the 60s (or was it 50s?) her bottom was fondled by a man already famous at the time or who has since gained fame and fortune.
Such heinous crimes require thorough investigation, made so much harder by the difficulty of obtaining prima facie evidence.
If the victim’s bottom was clothed at the time it was so egregiously abused, it’s likely that the clothes have since been discarded. And even if not, they’ve probably gone through so many washes that no fingerprints could have possibly survived.
And if the object of crime was naked, so many baths have intervened during the elapsing 50 (or is it 60?) years, that even the most sophisticated dactyloscopy won’t be able to retrieve the prints of the offending fingers.
The less evidence there is, the more time-consuming the investigation. Hence it’s understandable that the police have no time to chase burglars – especially since, as my co-panellists explained, the latter can be as effectively educated and entertained in the community.
Then there are hate crimes, and no amount of police resources must be spared to pursue perpetrators thereof.
Just imagine, if you can do so without fainting from horror, that an evil-doer calls a red-haired person a ginger tosser. Or, even worse, that another monster refers to a person of Afro-Caribbean descent as a black… well, anything.
I for one shudder to recall that, holding a wineglass to the wall 10 years ago, I overheard my neighbour refer to the adherents of the religion of peace as ‘Muzzie-Wuzzies’. To this day I suffer from guilt over my failure to report him immediately.
It’s clear that such fiends must be pursued to the ends of the earth, or at least to the geographical limits of police jurisdiction. And if that doesn’t leave the police enough time to go after a misguided soul who has just clobbered an old woman for her pension money, then so be it.
In any case, the old biddy could always supplement her income by claiming that some celebrity fingered her bottom back in 1959.