Friday, January 26, 2007

More Government ineptitude - or is it ?

Balls-ups within government departments are scarcely off the newspaper front pages these days, and this week has been no different.

John Reid is an unusual politician, like Gordon Brown he is a politician that most members of the public actually like and respect
, he is a good guy and has earned a reputation as a trouble shooter within government, flitting from department to department kicking arses and getting things sorted - so they gave him the Home Office to sort out, and it needed sorting.

Within days of taking up his new office desk John Reid declared the Home Office "unfit for purpose" and confirmed the stereotype of a government department being bogged down with red tape and over-burdened with hapless pen-pushing civil servants who shuffle papers from desk to desk in an effort to escape notice and wait for their handsome retirement stipend, to be correct.

Earlier this week, and for the second time since he arrived at the HO, John Reid passed a decree that HM Courts should not send anymore villians to jail for the time being, as there is no more room at the inn for them, the prison cells are full to bursting and short of accidently shooting a few of them there is little chance of finding accomodation for miscreants anytime in the near future.

Of course it all gets a bit political then, take a look at the excellent Magistrates Blog for an idea of the machinations of the courtroom and criminal justice situation, but in a nutshell, judges don't like being told what to do, especially when they think they are right and see that the public will think they are wrong not to send everyone who appears before them to goal.

And so yesterday when Derek Williams appeared before Judge John Rogers QC on a charge of downloading child pornography, Judge Rogers made it abundantly clear that in releasing Williams on a non-custodial sentence he was doing so on the express instructions of Home Secretary John Reid, Pontious Rogers washed his hands of the outrage caused when releasing a sex offender back into his community by pointing at John Reid and shouting to the baying crowd, "He told me to do it".

And boy how the newspapers have reacted.

"Brainless" screams The Sun's headline with "Peado free thanks to Reid" as the tag.
"Joke Justice" bellows The Mirror using words like "pervert" and "fiasco" in its outraged storyline.
"Reid attacked over child porn ruling" even the normally staid BBC News website wades into the scrap

But - none of the news agencies are reporting one very pertinent fact this morning. I only heard it while a representative of the parole officers association was being interviewed on TV - the offence for which Williams was charged carries a recomendation of between six and twelve months in prison - and he has already served eight months in a remand jail waiting for the trial.

So in sentencing him to a further six months suspended, Judge Rogers has already taken into account the remand time and will have mentioned this in court during his summing up - but this only slightly important part of the story has not been told in any of the press reporting this morning.

Could this be because it spoils the whole "outrage and indignity" headline ?

"Judge Releases Pervert In Correct Decision Shocker" wouldn't sell many newspapers this morning would it ?

We get the press that we deserve.

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