A better class of criminal? 16th December

Although Labour in so many areas has been all spin and no do, they have been revolutionary in their approach to crime and policing. They set out to greatly increase the number of criminals, by widening and deepening the criminal law, creating many new offences, and changing police priorities.

When they came power they inherited a world in which the public thought there was a hierarchy of crime that should be tackled by the police and prosecuting authorities. These included:
Murder (including terrorism),
Stranger rape,
Other violent attacks on people,
Break-ins and burglary, and
Criminal damage to property.
People expected the authorities to share their concerns about these crimes, and to order their priorities for investigating, charging and prosecuting accordingly. The vast majority of homeowners and people in work saw the police as their allies and wished to help them do a difficult job. There was a trust between the police and most citizens.

Labour set out to change all that. They decided to criminalise the hard working and the law abiding. They decided to set death in accidents alongside murder, seeking to inculpate drivers, railway executives, construction managers and others as similar criminals. They hassled to introduce corporate manslaughter as an offence, although they were reluctant for it to apply to parts of the public sector. All sensible people are worried by the large numbers of people who die on the roads, who might die in a train crash, or who are killed at work. We all welcome steps to reduce the numbers. We do not, however, think private sector Directors and managers regard deaths in such circumstances as just part of the price of delivering shareholder value. The company leaders I know want to prevent accidents like everyone else as most of us share that common human instinct to prevent harm. Such a feeling is reinforced by the fact that it could be their loved one or relative involved, and it is not good business to kill your customers. It is therefore strange for Labour to try to create some kind of equivalence between such deaths and murder, the thing people fear most.

They decided to set date rape alongside stranger rape. Again, none of us want men to rape women, but there is a difference between a man using unreasonable force to assault a woman on the street, and a disagreement between two lovers over whether there was consent on one particular occasion when the two were spending an evening or night together. Labour’s doctrine of equivalence has led to jury scepticism about many rape claims, in situations where it is the man’s word against the woman’s and where they had agreed to spend the evening or night together. Young men do not want to have to take a consent form and a lawyer on a date, just as young women have every right to go on a date and to say "No", having it respected.

They decided to elevate speeding into the role of serious crime, on the false grounds that speeding is the main cause of accidents. Their own research shows that speeding is a factor in under 10% of all accidents, and that deaths and serious injuries on the roads are much more likely to be caused by acts of dangerous driving, by drivers using stolen vehicles, and by drivers under the influence of drink and drugs after a night out. Speeding brought two advantages for them. It could be policed by machines, as Labour put speed camera after speed camera into place, and it was bound to catch a very large number of otherwise law abiding people. Simple observation showed that most people drove at well over 70 on a motorway, and many at more than 40 on dual carriageways where the speed limit was set. It was an easy way of collecting more revenue from fines, and bringing in a whole new army of criminals.

They decided to create a range of new white collar crimes by regulating more and more. Ironically they also decided to bring in similar new regulations for the political class themselves, exposing politicians to the same kind of risks as managers and administrators in pensions, financial services, and a whole range of other services. They have succeeded in making many normally law abiding people worried sick about whether they have complied with everything they need to comply with, and have ensnared some into violations through ignorance or oversight.

They decided to elevate thought crimes to a more serious position than some crimes against people and property. I agree with the government in condemning racial abuse, religious intolerance and incitement to discrimination or violence. I still think that crimes of racial and religious hatred are far worse when violence is added to unpleasant words. The development of a much more extensive law code seeking to control what people say does not necessarily control what they think and do, but it has made the largely law abiding majority very nervous about saying what they think. It has also made intelligent political debate about issues like religion and immigration at times impossible.

Now that Labour has decided to rat on the police pay settlement recommended by the arbitrator there is ill will between police and government. I have sympathy with the police. If you join a no strike profession, and agree for your part to abide by an external body to decide your pay, you should expect the employer to do the same. It is unpleasant to see that someone is briefing, presumably from the government side, that the police are currently unpopular, as if that were a justification to pay them less. Any sensible analysis would show that what is unpopular are the priorities this government has set for our criminal justice system, and the wide increase in the number of offences and the number of potential criminals that has resulted from these changes.

To restore trust in the system we need a government that pays the police whatever the independent review body recommends, and reflects public priorities for policing in its law codes.

To Labour who have deliberately misrepresented this piece, let me repeat: I wish the law to protect women from rape, as all sensible people do, and made it clear that any woman has a right to say "No" which should be respected. I have drawn attention to the large number of cases where courts decide no rape has been committed. These are clearly not the same as rape and must be harrowing to all involved. As some people seem as determined as a silly Labour Minister to misrepresent this piece let me again make it clear that I condemn all rape and wish to see all rapists successfully prosecuted. No force should be used in any circumstances. The issue is so-called "date rape" where the courts judge there was no rape at all.

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32 Comments

  1. apl
    Posted December 15, 2007 at 8:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Posted December 16, 2007 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm, in 1997 For the purposes of trial in the Crown Court, offences by way of section 75(1) and (2) of the Supreme Court Act 1981, were classified as follows:

    Class 1:
    (1)Misprision of treason and treason felony.
    (2) Murder.
    (3) Genocide.
    (4) Torture, hostage-taking and offences under the War Crimes Act 1991
    (5) An offence under the Official Secrets Acts.
    (6) Soliciting, incitement, attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above offences.

    This current Government have committed crimes in all of the above without any prosecutions.

    Just about says it all, don't it, but this aint the best time to piss the police off………there is no statute of limitations on these crimes!
    .

  3. Malcolm
    Posted December 16, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    My fellow officers have a valid complaint but many Police Staff are queing up awaiting "officer settlements" as it seems some Services / Forces have relegated staff on this front! Some of us have been waiting since April 2007 for even a pay offer! You can imagine how we feel as we expect we will be bounced as well with even greater pay impact. The "staff pay" impacts on PCSO's as well as many civilians on the front line! What a mess! Next time I get an out of hours call as a civi my phone may be off!

    Reply: I agree officers should be better treated.

  4. Tony Makara
    Posted December 16, 2007 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Under the Labour government a parent can be sent to prison if its child plays truant, yet a house burglar receives a caution for a first offence. No wonder law and order has broken down.

  5. disillusioned
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    It looks like you are in for a tough ride over the next few days because of this post. Benedict Brogan doesn't seem to agree wholeheartedly with Labour's complaints about your use of the term "disagreement", but he doesn't put you in the clear either.

    I think that what you are doing on this blog is admirable and you shouldn't need to worry about every word being parsed by the party opposite. We need genuine discussion and debate in this country, not bluster and name calling.

    What I don't understand is why the government continues to get so much wrong when this incident shows that at least one minister is reading your posts. Let's hope they've also digested what you've written about Northern Rock.

  6. John Kimble
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    "Labour's doctrine of equivalence has led to jury scepticism about many rape claims"

    Sorry but you've missed the point completely here.

    It is the failure to prosecute the increasing number of women out there making malicious false claims of rape that are having an impact in juries. Such claims result in innocent men being thrown into jail and having their reputations and lives completely ruined. Generally such accusers are not prosecuted at all and when they are they receive short sentences.

    Those making false claims (which can be proven to be false beyond reasonable doubt) should be made to sign the sex offenders register as it is not only an offence against the accused but they are also impacting severely on legitimate victims of sex attacks. Additionally they should serve exactly the same sentence as the accused would have faced.

  7. robert mcnaughton
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I should add that most of this happened in Oxford, where girls be they "town or gown" all acted in a reasonably similar and dare i say predictable manner….!

  8. Posted December 18, 2007 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/stor

    Heather Harvey, manager of Amnesty International's UK Stop Violence Against Women campaign: "There's very little difference between rape by a partner and rape by a stranger – both amount to sexual violence and both can leave a woman deeply traumatised. Instead of splitting hairs, Mr Redwood should concentrate on the real issue, the appallingly low conviction rate for rape in Britain."

    Reply: I was not splitting hairs. I agree that rape is a nasty crime that needs suitable prosecution and punishment. I was pointing out that courts do not convict in some cases because the the man thought there was consent. These things do need to be judged on the evidence. If a man is found not guilty, there was no rape.

  9. Bazman
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Maybe we should tar and feather them as well? The fact is the rates of successful prosecutions of rape are worryingly low. Rape is rape whether the person is know or unknown. The problem is that natural law meets human law.
    John is not in the real world when he says executives are big on safety. 'Unsafe At Any Speed' A 1965 book about political meddling of the car industry to oppose new safety features, by Ralph Nadar is well worth a look. The fact is that companies attitude to safety can be summed up as 'Legal Minimum' like much else they do. The argument being that they would not be competitive otherwise. Competition being following each other like sheep? Competition in attracting the right employee? 'Right Employee' Read. Finding someone daft enough to do the work for what we are offering, and revolving door disposable workforce. How bothered has industry been in the past about industrial disease? My health is good, because of me, not my bosses. Past and present. I would be costing the state a fortune now instead of paying average taxes if it had been left to these guys believe me. No thats untrue! I would probably be dead.
    Privately run nuclear power stations are asking for trouble.

  10. John Read
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    All true! But do you speak for your party? You certainly speak for me!

    I wish I could have confidence that all this damage done by Labour will be set right in the first few months of a new Conservative Government – or even set right at all!

  11. John Brennan
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    The real reason why the proportion of guity verdicts in rape trials has fallen (actually plummeted would be a more accurate description) is that the CPS no longer applies the "reasonable prospect of conviction" test. In the old days weak cases were binned at an early stage. Nowadays, such cases proceed to trial and are often thrown out at half-time.

  12. Adam
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I'd just like to congratulate you on all the storm-in-teacup media attention you've generated. You are 100% spot-on of course, and there's no such thing as bad publicity!

  13. Emily
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I honestly think you should be relived of your job due to this statement. You are clearly not even vaguely capable of representing half the population. Your argument is a total insult.
    There's now one less Tory voter. I hope other women act the same way…..

    Shame on you

    Reply: Please read the blog. I made it very clear that if a woman says "No" then there is no consent. Rape should be prosecuted.

  14. Peter Carter
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    One dark night an innocent young woman is making her way home after work. As she walks down a lonely narrow lane a vile 18 stone thug with a knife jumps out and knocking her to the ground brutally attacks and rapes her. Much later, bruised bleeding and, sobbing uncontrollably, she is told by police officers that the law now regards this hideous offense is no worse than a situation where two lovers (partners) after a night of heavy drinking have a disagreement over consent to sex. What an insight into the socialist mindset that is destroying our morals and nation.

  15. Carla Jack
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I am shocked and disgusted that such a statement about rape has been made by an educated public figure like yourself. Stranger rape accounts for a VERY small percentage of all rapes, the rest are acquaintance rape. You should be well aware of the problems that the UK has with rape conviction rates, making statements like this will only discourage women further from reporting the crime. You also say young men do not want to take a consent form on a date, given the seriousness of this issue.. how difficult would it really be to just ask?

    Reply: Please read what I said. I said a woman has a right to say "No" and that must be respected. We do not disagree I suspect.

  16. SPearce
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but all this does is make you sound like an old fashioned and not someone I want to support. Are there women who claim rape when it isn't? Yes and they should be dealt with accordingly and to the full extent of the law. Is it possible to be raped by someone you know and thought you had a sensible grown up friendship or even relationship with? Yes? Can a husband rape his wife even though they are married? Yes. If of the two parties does not consent then yes it is rape. Is it going to be harder to determine whether rape occurred when the two parties knew each other? Yes. Does this mean to the women (in most cases) the rape will be any less devastating, because it was someone she knew? No.

    Should we look at steps like hiding the identity of the accused, because this is such a controversial issue and can ruin the lives of innocent men. I would think so.

    It still comes back to the fact that rape is rape – no matter how well or not you know the other person.

    Reply: yes, I agree – that is exactly what I said. If a woman says "No" then there is no consent and a rape will occur if the man persists. I was pointing out that courts sometimes not convict where there is disagreement about whether there was consent or not.

  17. SPearce
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The problem is that the by suggesting there are different classes of rape, you immediately upset most of the femail voting population including me. It may seem a logical distinction to you, but I am sorry to this voter it isn't.

    Reply: I was distinguishing between rape, and court judgements that allegations of rape are false.

  18. Carla Jack
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    You have still overlooked the fact that acquiantance rape accounts for a very, very high percentage of rapes and in making such a comment about date rape you are almost downplaying this. Your comments have also been published in tabloids which will be read by impressionable women who as I said may be discouraged from reporting the crime.. there is as much of a problem with reporting as there is convicting.

    Reply: I placed nothing in the tabloids – it's silly Labour spin to create trouble where none was meant.

  19. Elizabeth
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    What do you propose then? Harsher sentences for stranger rape but letting off date rapists? Because after all, it wasn't really rape was it? It was just a disagreement between two lovers.

    Needless to say I will not be voting Tory. Ever.

    reply: Please do not be so foolish. Like you I wish to see rapists prosecuted. I was drawing attention to the courts who often find men not guilty because there is not sufficient evidence they did commit rape. I presume you do not wish to see the innocent convicted?

  20. Elaine
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I'm afraid I really don't understand the clarifications you're making, could you perhaps explain?

    You say: If a woman says No

  21. Catherine
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, your comments trivialise acquaintance rape and are an insult to the thousands of women who are victims of this crime. To characterise acquaintance rape as "a disagreement between two lovers … on one particular occasion" is profoundly offensive to all the women who are beaten and raped by their husbands and boyfriends. There is nothing "less bad" about this crime just because it occurs between two people who already know each other.

    One in six women becomes a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime, almost all at the hands of intimates. Do not tell me to re-read your blog, as you have told other women above who object to your language. I have already read it, and I've seen that you've graciously allowed that "young women have every right to go on a date and to say 'No', having it respected." Big whoop. This does not disguise the fact that you are openly trivialising acquaintance rape, a violent and devastating crime that affects a huge number of women.

    I would also like you to clarify the following phrase:
    "a man using unreasonable force to assault a woman on the street,"

    Could you please explain what would constitute "reasonable" force to assault a woman on the street?

    reply: Like you I am against all rape, and made it clear on the blog that if a man violates a woman's right to say "No" he should be prosecuted. Please do not twist what I wrote.

  22. Roraig HD Finney
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    'Labour's doctrine of equivalence has led to jury scepticism about many rape claims, in situations where it is the man's word against the woman's and where they had agreed to spend the evening or night together.'

    The low rate of rape convictions in recent years certainly does have much to do with the equivalence of stranger and date rape in prosecution. However, the issue is not the question of which is more morally reprehensible, even in the minds of the members of a jury, but the difference in available standards of proof in either. It used to be the policy of the Crown Prosecution Service to only prosecute in cases of rape where they judged that there was sufficient evidence to make conviction likely. It is the reversal of this policy that has led to the low rates of conviction, as prosecutors are compelled to take cases to court even if there is a high likelihood of failure. Under the previous system, date rape was addressed separately because it was by nature much harder to prove an absence of consent in such cases.

  23. johnlocke
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Good post John – I for one agree with everything you say.

    If rape cannot be proven, the defendent should not be found guilty. Rape is a disgusting crime, under any circumstances, but lowering the bar for conviction is extremely dangerous.

    And, I'm afraid, there *is* a self-evident moral difference between a street rape, and a drunken one-night stand where things went a bit further than people intended. Comments by John Brennan and Peter Carter are absolutely spot-on, and tie-in with what I've heard from a couple of police officers.

    Some of the other comments you're getting show how hard it is for people to think rationally about the subject. All the pathetic self-righteous feminist posturing is doing serious rape victims great harm.

  24. K Spenceley
    Posted December 18, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    If a woman has the right to have her "No" respected in any sexual encounter, why is there the need to differentiate between different types of rape? It seems you are splitting hairs only to the disadvantage of the women who are affected by rape and the courts who attempt to prosecute the offenders.

    Reply: I am not advocating a differentiation, merely pointing out courts find a lot of alleged "rape" is not rape.

  25. Jayne
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    To make a comparison, I wouldn't say there was a difference between being murdered by someone you know in a safe environment and being murdered by a stranger in the street. If there is perhaps we should introduce Acquaintence Murder and Stranger Murder, to avoid confusion.

    Reply: Please do not misrepresent what I am saying. I have made it clear that rape is rape, whether by a stranger or by someone known to the woman, where there was no consent. I did not say I thought there should be two sorts of rape. The issue is the large number of cases where the courts decide it is not rape.

  26. Adrian Peirson
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    The conviction rates are 'low' because it is one persons word against another, and on the basis of gender neutrality, whose word carries more weight.

    On that Basis it is remarkable that there are any convictions.
    You cannot lower the burden off Proof because there are not enough convictions !

    This suggestion further highlights a very clear Anti Male Bias spreading through our Society.

    If women were (nicer – text edited) than men in personal disputes, explain why 100'000 Fathers every year have to apply to the courts to get their former Wives to Honour the already agreed Contact arrangements with their children.

    On the Principle of Equivalence, and all things being equal, One 'Persons' word should carry no more weight than another.

    Case Dismissed.

    I wonder where this Cancerous Marxist Anti Male, Anti Family Pro Feminist Bias can be Coming from that increasingly Pervades our society.
    http://www.infowars.com/articles/nwo/rockefeller_

  27. British Patriot
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    There is Some serious Money and careers to be made out of abuse, and false allegations, and it's almost impossible to Disprove, it's a Sure Fire Money Spinner.
    http://lastditch.typepad.com/lastditch/2007/04/ophttp://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/74690/operation-ohttp://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,205988…
    http://www.mensaid.com/false_allegations/
    http://www.angryharry.com/esNSPCCNeedsToBeStopped

    The Legal Burden of Proof Should NOT be lowered.

    Any one would think there was a clear agenda a destabilise and destroy our Patrichal Society.
    http://www.infowars.com/articles/nwo/rockefeller_

  28. HelenSparkles
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    As Marcel Berlins said in The Guardian today; "… men are being wrongly acquitted because some jurors are taking the Redwood approach. Somehow, juries need to be told firmly that a rape is a rape, whoever commits it."

    I expect you will be as derogatory about the Guardian as you are about everyone else, you must be very busy being negative about them all. Maybe I do you an injustice because I haven't read your entire blog, but not sure I have the energy, it is depressingly unpleasant about others. Try just being lively about your own ideas, slinging mud is so turgidly familiar from politicians.

    Reply: If you read the blog I have said rape is rape and should be prosecuted. The issue is the courts find many cases of alleged "date rape" are not rape.

  29. Leon
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    John Redwood, you should be praised for at least speaking some common sense.

    Whilst I do not agree with everything you have said in your career, you do make some valid points, particularly in regards to rape. Please go one step further and demand that women be punished harshy for false allegations and, also, please make the distinction between REPORTED rapes and ACTUAL rapes.

    Not all reported rapes are legitimate, and juries often see through lying women, especially ones who falsely accuse ex partners to get them out of the family home or famous persons (footballers) through blackmail.

    Perhaps you could make this point when you are questioned in public, as it needs saying, and there are a lot of young men (first time voters) like myself who are at college, who want to see MP's stand for matters concerning males.

  30. martin
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr redwood,

    While i wont disagree that there is a difference between date rape and stranger rape to characterise the former as a disagreement between lovers is at best unfortunate and at worst inflamatory.

    Yes, in the real world there is some measure of implied consent between those in a long term relationship, but rape is an exceedingly complex issue, and date rape doubly so. How long have the two known each other, are they "a couple", have they had sex before, is there a history of violence or other abuse? These and many other questions become important when the attacker and victim know each other, and to not talk about these complexities does you, the victims of these crimes and those wrongfully accused a disservice.

    You are appear to be a well educated fellow, and i assume well advised about posts such as these. You must have known that statements like this would gain attention beyond your normal blog readers.

    To those getting tired of the labour party but still without trust in the tories such statements appear cynical and attention grabbing, especially when there are MANY other less contentious cases of over criminalisation of society some of which you deal with in this post.

    reply: Please do not misinterpret what I wrote. I think anyone ignoring a woman's "No" should be prosecuted for rape. I was drawing attention to the many cases where courts find there was no rape, where the courts regard it as a disagreement between lovers.

  31. Emily
    Posted December 19, 2007 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Good god!

    Your Reply to my first post: "Please read the blog. I made it very clear that if a woman says No

  32. Bazman
    Posted December 20, 2007 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    It's easy to see how the rape statement can be misinterpreted for political gain and newspaper sales. Like in sexual politics it's often best to stop digging.
    Looks like Vernon Coaker and his chums are the bunny boilers though.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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