The justice system in the UK is something to be lauded despite its numerous challenges. In this trying economic times, finance is a big challenge with government spending cuts. There are also philosophical challenges with two dominant strain of opinions - 'lock all criminals up' or 'try some other form of rehabilitation'. Even within the 'bang them all up' brigade there is a realisation that we don't have enough prisons and that some criminals come out of prison with even more advanced skills.
Other challenges that impact on the criminal justice system includes population growth, multicultural society and the criminalising of some behaviours by our law making system. All of these issues are weighty topics worthy of discussion in their own right. Maybe on another day.
I however want to touch on a different aspect of the criminal justice system today. The idea that criminals are deserving of a new identity to protect them. Where did this idea come from? I have tried hard this morning and all I could find is somewhat summarised in this article (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7361451/Venables-protected-by-rare-identity-ban.html) . Yes the same Dame Butler - Sloss that we rejected as the Head of the Child Abuse inquiry was apparently the first person to use the lifelong anonymity order for criminals.
Granted this was because a child was the criminal. But since then, the largess has been extended to adults. One of such beneficiaries include - Maxine Carr (She was 27 when she decided to provide an alibi for the murderer of 2 children) and the child murderer and later adult criminal who used to be known as Jon Venables.
To a certain degree, I understand why children who commit vile crimes are given new identities. There is a view these might help them rebuild their lives. You might be tempted to ask if they really know what they were doing? Also for very young ones, their is still a chance they can be genuinely rehabilitated. I however disagree that protecting their identity or giving them new ones has anything to do with human rights. I firmly believe that when you take away the human rights of others, you lose the right to yours. No ifs. No buts.
However what is the point of given new identities to adult criminals. Same issue of human rights? Sorry I don't buy that. These adults (except those with genuine mental health issues or those with the mental age of a child) knew what they were doing and they should be dealt with accordingly. If they have serious and verifiable mental health issues, they should be in a psychiatric ward somewhere receiving proper treatment. If they have the mental age of a child, they should be subject to appropriate care orders if there is a chance they might harm themselves or others.
Back to adult criminals. If the reason they are given new identities is because they would be harmed by the relatives of their victims. This is clearly WRONG. If I go out and slap a gang members' girlfriend in a crime infested backwater somewhere, I am likely to be stabbed in the neck and probably die. Should I be granted a new identity by the CPS for my foolishness as the knife in the neck will deprive me of my human rights? I think a resounding NO is the answer to that question. So why should future Maxine Carrs receive any protection. They are adults, they knew what they were doing, they suffer the consequences. Simple.
The intriguing one is that of Mr Venables. He got one identity as a child murderer. He 'ballsed' it up and he has been given another one as an adult. Is there a limit to the identities we are willing to give him. 10, 20 or a 100? At what point will the criminal justice system cut him loose? At what point will the system decide that perhaps his criminal behaviour was nothing to do with his youth when he killed a toddler but a sign perhaps that this is one person that doesn't deserve our collective protection and rehabilitation? I think maybe our patience (STUPIDITY?) has no end.
As far as I am aware, this system and this society thrives on taking responsibility for our actions especially as adults, I am sorry this is not compatible with creating new identities for adult criminals.