Convictions too few - Goldsmith

[url=][color=red][size=9](c)[/size] BBC[/color][/url] said:
Conviction rates for serious offences such as wounding and rape are too low, the Attorney General has admitted.

Lord Goldsmith said victims had a right to be worried but the government was working to tackle the problem and more offenders were being taken to court.

He was responding to an Observer study which claimed convictions for crimes such as rape and wounding had fallen below 10% since Labour came to power.

The Tories said it showed ministers were losing control of violent crime.

The newspaper reported that cases of serious wounding had risen by more than half in the last 10 years to almost 20,000 annually, while the conviction rate in prosecutions for the offence had fallen from 14.8% to 9.7%.

Police recorded nearly 13,000 rapes in 2004-05, double the total for 1997, while the conviction rate plunged from 9.2% to 5.5% in the same period.

And while robberies had fallen from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2002 to 88,710 in 2004-05, the total remained far higher than the 63,072 recorded in 1997. Over the period, conviction rates fell from 10.2% to 8.9%.

The investigation found many suspects were set free because cases were not ready, because witnesses had pulled out or evidence was unreliable.

Lord Goldsmith admitted victims of crime had a right to be worried but said police, prosecutors and criminal justice agencies were now working much more closely together to increase the number of convictions.

"The figures are demonstrating that we are bringing more offenders to justice, there are fewer trials that fail because things are not ready, there are more guilty pleas taking place," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's The Weekend News.

He added that it was "important" to make sure there were no procedural problems, such as witnesses not turning up or unreliable material, by the time cases got to court.

Lord Goldsmith also said it had to be accepted that some cases would fail.

"If the only cases we brought to court were racing certainties, we would have a lot of villains walking the streets who had been let off without ever getting to court," he said.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said ministers were "burying their heads in the sand" by denying that they were losing control of violent crime.

"It is self-evident that if the risk of being caught and convicted falls dramatically, as it has done in the last nine years, violent crime will get out of control and the public will face unnecessary risk," he said.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman said the figures undermined the credibility of the government on the same scale as recent controversies facing the Home Office.

"It is a sign of Tony Blair's failure that 70% of young offenders re-offend within two years of leaving prison, and now we know that serious offences lead to a lower rate of convictions".
Ref the reasons given for suspects being set free, the one that offends me most is that cases are not ready. Why on Earth not? In the interest of justice we must have a system that's capable of pulling together prosecution cases so that those charged with crimes do not get set free because of clerical errors. Is it that funds are not allocated to provide a highly trained and adequately staffed prosecution department? If not, why not? I don't know how much money each year is spent on legal aid, and with our tradition of the rule of law it is right and proper that the public purse funds defence for those who cannot afford proper defence for themselves, but this (seemingly excessive) funding should be balanced by proper funding of the prosecuting office.

This government appears to have a knack of reducing the effectiveness of the state in every branch of public service and when it affects something as integral to the balance of society as law and order, something has to be done PDQ to restore public faith. I don't want this to be just another rant against the government, but this has got beyond a joke. The police operate under all sorts of restrictions and 'softly, softly' policies, so in order to bring the accused through the processes of arrest and charge they have to struggle, so to then have the accused set free without being tried is galling in the extreme.

I accept that there are some things that the state can't mitigate against, unless it's a totalitarian regime, but I believe that we have the right to expect and demand more from our government than they deliver.

Apologies for any incoherence – a bottle of Merlot stands empty before me... :oops:
Perhaps not everybody arrested/charged by the police/CPS is actually guilty of a crime? Just a thought........

I'm off to call a police horse 'gay', before flashing my lights at another driver to warn of a nearby speed camera etc etc. Public faith in the system? Oppressive police state? Hmmmm.
The one that offends me most is "but the government was working to tackle the problem and more offenders were being taken to court." Is it? If so, more offenders may be taken to court, its the shite sentences passed for those who are clearly guilty or repeat offenders that is also the part of the problem.

Damn right we expect more.
Re. the more offenders taken to court bollix.

Last year my step-son was taken to Court for involvement in a street robbery even though the CCTV footage depicted someone half his height and twice his width. Reason given, he was charged before the CCTV evidence became available hence the CPS pushed on with the prosecution against the advice of the officers concerned.
Result the Judge threw it out on the second appearance... Why push ahead with the trial? According to the targets to be met it was another "offender" charged and taken to Court.

Final result another nail in the coffin of respect for the Law from a law-abiding family.

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