Dan Wootton: If you’re not committing crime, you have absolutely nothing to worry about stop and search
Dan Wootton gives his take on the day's stories.
Crime in this country is out of control and it’s long been time the government acknowledges that and institutes immediate changes to prevent offending that might not please the PC mob. So I’m heartened by today’s raft of announcements from Boris Johnson and Priti Patel that appear to show them doing exactly that. The Prime Minister has even suggested the return of what he described as chain gangs so that we can see justice being done.
“If you're guilty of antisocial behaviour and you're sentenced to unpaid work, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs visibly paying your debt to society.”
The Home Office quickly played down his chain gang comments as a ‘figure of speech’. But what will be introduced are plans for community service to be completed outside. As the Home Secretary explained in an article for the Daily Mail:
“The public want to see justice done and criminals pay the price for their crimes. They want to see yobs pay back to the communities they've blighted by their thoughtless actions. That's why we are relaunching unpaid work so it is more visible, to ensure offenders are publicly making reparations for their crimes by undertaking work that is valuable to their local areas, such as cleaning the streets, estates, alleyways and open spaces of litter and other visible signs of disorder in local neighbourhoods.”
That is the right approach, but the PM must go further. Luckily, there were some other measures unveiled today make a lot of sense to me too. Burglars returning to the community will have to be electronically tagged 24/7 for a year after release to stop them reoffending.
Introducing a league table comparing how quickly police forces answer 999 calls. And a controversial but necessary increase in the use of stop and search to target knife crime. The usual woke mob have been out saying such measures will increase inequalities and target young people and ethnic minorities.
Human rights group Liberty tweeted: “Talk of chain gangs shows this plan has nothing to do with making communities safer. It's designed to create more stigma and division. A short-term stunt that will cause long-term generational harm.”
What utter tosh. If you’re not committing crime, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. But as a victim of lawless London – having been mugged by biker gangs for my phone twice in the last couple of years, with the futile police doing nothing about it – we have everything to worry about.
So while today’s measures are a start, it’s imperative this government backs the police and doubles down on defeating crime. As John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said today: “Police officers are sick of gimmicks. Sick of underfunding. Sick of mixed messaging putting police at risk. Sick of Government contempt for police. It's time for a total reset.”
The introduction of compulsory vaccine passports risks tearing the Tory party apart, the former minister and libertarian Steve Baker has publicly warned. Those fears are founded with the suggestion of Covid certification to enter sports events, nightclubs and – outrageously – even universities. That’s even though many scientists warn a coercion approach could actually stop the vaccine hesitant getting the jab.
In an interview with The Sun, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Tories Mr Baker said: “It is an outrageous proposal, and one that doesn't seem likely to do any good. Who are they now trying to coerce? Whose education are they now trying to deny? I believe the government is in terrible danger of splitting the Tory Party irretrievably - after all we have been through with Brexit.”
He’s right. And Boris Johnson – who used to view himself as an ardent libertarian – should think twice before such a kneejerk measure.
Especially given cases dropped again to 23,511 today, with scientists’ doomsday predictions of 200,000 new infections every 24 hours proven to be more scaremongering. So after stoking fear in the most unnecessary and, as it turns out, inaccurate way over the past few weeks, Neil Ferguson has completely recalculated. He popped up on – where else – the BBC’s Today Programme to say the pandemic should be largely behind us by October.
Perhaps the real lesson here is for the BBC to stop listening to Professor Pantsdown Neil Ferguson, whose projections have proven to be completely wrong time and again. And not just during this pandemic, either.
The travel green list must be extended to save our tourism industry – and because we all deserve a stress-free holiday this summer. Currently bookings are at just 16 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. But discussions are currently underway about adding a host of other safe countries to the green list, including the likes of Austria, Italy, Jamaica and Sweden. That should happen immediately to save the summer holiday season.