Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Benefits to be cut for Criminals - Pros and cons

When I was a younger man I would have welcomed the Government's new measures.

Those who commit crimes will have their benefits cut.

Seventeen year old Chris would totally agree.

"Hear, Hear!"  he would have said briefly looking up from his Star Wars cards. He was a little more right wing than I am with an immovable belief in the letter of the law and his superiors. He was the voice that wanted to see martial law declared during the riots, deployment of live rounds against the Student protests...

He was thoroughly odious person at times - I'm no longer that person, although I sometime hear his voice.

The Government proposal to cut benefits from criminals sounds like the policy he would have written.

The policy plays to a populist bandwagon of people who watched the riots and wanted action and retribution. It shows the government are listening and the state will strike with vengeance to show the criminal masses there is a cause and consequence and you will pay for your crimes and hit them where it hurts - their wallets.
On paper it is a good scheme, demonstrates the law and will act as a deterrent and according to local MP Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) whom I tweeted on the subject on Sunday, suggested it would be run in tandem with stiffer custodial sentences.

My younger self is ecstatic - greater punishments, order restored to chaos.

As I said though, I'm not him anymore. A few questions have been raised.

* Benefits are there to help the poor, not just to pay the utility bills but also to support the families and their children. In Medway we have seen a rise in the amount of children going into care and a rising cost to the tax payer and to local councils. By taking away an adult's benefits you will also be effecting their children and families. The Innocent will suffer with the guilty.  Can the Conservatives really back potentially taking food out of the mouthes of children?

* If the stronger custodial sentences kick in you will also be taking away a parent from the family, something the "Political Experts" think is vital to a stable family. Is that not contradictory?
Also if in Prison for a long time they are not working.

* The Prison system is already broken, overcrowded and in need of serious reform. Where are we to house an influx of long haul criminals? This is something that the public forget. As the warden in Shawshank redemtion said the Public only want money spent on higher walls, more cells and more guards but the State doesn't have the money to do that. Prison reform is low on its list of priorities.

* What of the man who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family? Its an age old dilemma but it still goes on, would you take his benefits away even though his family is already starving and send him to prison? 

We are meant to be reaching out to the people in the nation, the ones who don't believe the state cares for them and that Politics is broken and for the rich. Yes we need to demonstrate the state and law is there and MUST be adhered to but taking away their benefits or housing is not the way, it will only cause more resentment as the Rich trample the poor, so it will look.

Yet again the Government seem to be pushing through a popular policy that will get support but without much thought for who will suffer or the consequences. Might be time to "Stop, listen and think again."

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