Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Posts Tagged ‘Sara Payne

Government appointed campaigners

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Sara Payne, the mother of murderd girl Sarah Payne, has been nominated the Government’s new Victims’ Champion and Richard Taylor, the father of murdered teenager Damilola Taylor, has been given the role of Government special envoy on youth violence and knife crime. Since when has the government decided that the people most qualified to tackle societal problems are indirect victims of said problems? I would never deny these people the right to campaign on issues which they feel strongly about, but elevating them to fairly high, even if purely symbolic, governmental posts is not the way to go.

No doubt, they will ‘visit people up and down the country to see what more can be done to make sure that the voice of the victim is heard’ but how do we know that the people they speak to are actually representative of the country as a whole? The people who turn up to their meetings will, most probably be sympathisers with their cause. This may well be good for their campaign but when we turn them into government sanctioned gatekeepers we give their cause an extra level of influence, most probably at the expense of other groups. Sara Payne has already positioned herself and her official post in opposition to offender’s rights by saying ‘Criminals have plenty of groups to stand up for their rights’. She obviously does not appreciate that offender’s rights and victim’s rights is not a zero-sum game- they do not, cannot and should not balance.

In the words of the New Generation Network we need to  ‘wrest the debate away from the extreme ends of the spectrum and provide a voice to the silent majority’. By appointing one person to go and talk to people who already feel similarly (and if you don’t believe me, take a look at the Damilola Taylor Trust’s website or The People’s March facebook group and try and find) we will not acheive anything. The government needs to continue to support impartial and neutral people to do research into why violent crime is increasing amongst young people in the UK (if it even is), taking into account all the knowledge we have accumulated about sub-cultures, desistance and the age-crime curve, public opinion and the media. Only then will we be able to improve the situation both in terms of policy formation and reduction in crime.


Written by criminologyandstuff

February 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Posted in media, Research

Tagged with , ,