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Friday, March 26, 2004

It seems not even £9.7 million can make some people change their ways. In the news this week there was a story featured on such a man, who won £9.7 million on the National Lottery and despite his promises to end his life of petty crime it seems he just can't keep them. Michael Carroll from Magdalen near Norfolk, collected his winnings in 2002 still wearing an electronic tag for drunk and disorderly behaviour. Despite the tag he pledged to friends, family and the media that he was going on the straight and narrow and that the lottery money had given him the chance of a fresh, clean start. Yet despite his promises £1,000 worth of cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms were recently found at his home, which he has just received a 12 month treatment order for. This is not the first crime committed since his win, just 3 weeks after he was fined £1,300 after dodging £10 worth of train fares. He was later fined £12,000 for claiming jobseekers allowance whilst he was working. He has also been in trouble with neighbours and the council near his new home on the edge of Swaffam, for noisy behaviour. Many residents of his old home in Magdalen talk positively about Mr Carroll, blaming his recent behaviour on personal and domestic problems (his marriage recently collapsed after less than a year). Others believe that he has simply had ‘too much too soon’, and he can’t handle it. Personally I think that in his situation, with all that money he has recently obtained there is no excuse for committing petty crime. If he has a drug problem, then obviously however much money he has wont make a difference, and he should receive help and treatment for this. However dodging £10 worth of train tickets I think is just inexcusable, ok many people do this, but when you have the kind of money that this man has I think that there is no excuse especially after he vowed to go on the straight and narrow.
Read more on the story at:
www.timesonline.co.uk
www.news.bbc.co.uk
www.guardian.co.uk


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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Have been looking at crime statistics by Andy Aitchison and James Hodgkinson this week for 2002/2003 on a website called www.homeoffice.gov.uk The statistics are for both England and Wales and cover burglary,criminal damage, drug offences,violence,theft and theft from vehicles. The highest place in the country for crime was as you might expect London with 1,090,767 crimes reported.The lowest was Wales with 294,846 crimes reported, and the lowest in England was the south west of England with 467,406. Theft and handling of stolen goods was the crime commited most in the survey by all areas, and the crimes commited least in the survey were robbery and drug offences.
The highest level of crime in England and Wales was in 1995, but has since fallen by 36%.Victims of crime have also fallen from 40% in 1995 to 27% in 2002/2003. The recordings show that many crimes such as vehicle theft and violent crimes have decreased in 2002/2003 from a year before, as has the fear of crime.This is really good news,and could be due to increased police patrolling the street,more use of speed and CCTV cameras, as well as changes in the law.The risk of being a victim of crime is the same as it was in 1981 which was 27%.There is always going to be a risk of being a victim of crime, but people must help themselves, by taking measures such as installing alarms,avoiding badly lit areas at night and so on. Because if people were more vigilant then we could lower the crime figure even more. As it is stated in the website crimes are not always reported to the police, so a completely accurate crime figure is not possible, but we do get a good idea.
This is a very interesting website, which contains many other local and national statistics,definately worth a look for anyone interested.
Anyone interested in USA statistics check out www.disastercenter.com/crime which gives similar statistics for the United States.

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

just been reading about a crack down on petty crime in the town of Ardrossan on www.strathclyde.police.uk/news , where police there have been trying to stress that they are commited to stamping out fear of crime in the community.The operation named 'Etna' was launched after locals complained that they were intimidated by gangs of youths gathering in certain areas at night.Over a weekend last November, police patrolled areas known for crime in uniform and undercover,as well as using officers from the traffic patrol and dog teams.Over the course of the operation 80 people were searched for weapons,with 2 people found to be carrying one, 25 people were searched for illegal substances, again 2 people were caught with drugs on them. A further 32 members of the public were reported for traffic crimes.The operation was thought to be highly effective.
I have conflicting views on this subject,for one i think that it is great that the police are trying to get more involved in the community and attempting to reduce the fear of crime as being intimidated is horrible for all of us,especially for older people and the very young.On the other hand being searched by police can feel like an invasion of privacy,especially when there is no cause for it.For example take the operation in Ardrossan 25 people were searched for drugs,but only 2 found to be carrying them.That's 23 people searched for nothing! Young Students in particular are often picked on by the police, when others are not and are often stereotyped as drug users and trouble makers.Of course sometimes students are guilty, but no more than any one else. Many of my friends at University and also when i attended a Sixth Form College were stopped by Police and searched for drugs, as well as being breathalised for what seemed no good reason. Although a couple of these people were fine about this, some were very upset and embarassed.
To read more on cracking down on petty crime, visit
www.tom-watson.co.uk

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Monday, March 08, 2004

There hasn't been much in the news this week on the subject of petty crime, however I did read an interesting article on the BBC news website www.news.bbc.co.uk The article was about how the country's prisons are being over run by petty criminals, which therefore means that it is harder to lock up violent and dangerous criminals for longer periods of time. Because there are so many petty offenders locked up, there is simply not enough room to keep some dangerous offenders for as long as the authorities would like. Martin Narey who is head of the national offender management service stressed that Home Secretary David Blunkett was trying to solve the problem by putting forward the idea of giving offenders of petty crimes 'community penalties'. Personally I think that this is a very good idea, as many of these kinds of offenders are not dangerous to themselves or the public and I don't think that custodial sentences for some offenders are always helpful. Take some drug offenders for example, many of these people would benefit from a programme of help, rather than being locked up. Even if some of these kinds of offenders need to be monitored, use of electronic tags for example could be used instead of jail terms. I also think it would be found that most members of the public would rather have a petty criminal on the street paying for his crimes through community service, if this helps the authorities to lock up someone who is violent and a risk to people. If nothing else at least by doing community service the public will benefit even if the lawbreaker does not.
Find out more about the prison service at:
www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk

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