BNC Text HE5

Public Eye - police cautioning: documentary. Sample containing about 4690 words speech recorded in leisure context

11 speakers recorded by respondent number C354

PS2SC Ag2 f (tricia lawton, age 30+, tv presenter, Most of her speech is scripted.) unspecified
PS2SD X f (No name, age unknown, police officer?) unspecified
PS2SE X m (No name, age unknown, police officer, Cautioning offender) unspecified
PS2SF X m (No name, age unknown, Offender being cautioned) unspecified
PS2SG X m (michael howard, age unknown, cabinet minister (conservative)) unspecified
PS2SH X m (No name, age unknown) unspecified
PS2SJ X m (No name, age unknown, Probably an offender. The transcriber described him as 'Thug'.) unspecified
PS2SK X m (No name, age unknown) unspecified
HE5PS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
HE5PSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HE5PSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 102501 recorded on 1993-10-22. LocationLondon: Bbc2 ( Television broadcast ) Activity: Documentary Narration and interviews

Undivided text

tricia lawton (PS2SC) [1] [theme music] At police stations across England and Wales more than two hundred thousand people will be given cautions this year.
[2] To get a caution they'll have to admit their part in the crime but they won't have to go court.
[3] [door closing] A caution doesn't mean a criminal record but it does mean the police can solve crime with the minimum of fuss.
[4] Research also suggests it discourages some people from re-offending.
(PS2SD) [5] He's gone into Boots, he's admitted [...] to doing the offence erm picking up some perfume from the counter in Boots, put it in the basket then placed it into his bag
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...]
(PS2SD) [6] and walked out.
(PS2SE) [7] What's his previous his
(PS2SD) [8] He's
(PS2SE) [9] previous record?
(PS2SD) [10] He's got He's got one previous erm which actually date back to nineteen seventy seven erm for handling stolen goods.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [11] Come this way please.
(PS2SE) [12] The best thing for this chap would be to caution him for this offence.
[13] How'd
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...]
(PS2SE) [14] How'd do you think he'd react to that?
(PS2SD) [15] Well he's been very remorse throughout the interview anyway he's you know he said sorry throughout and he regrets doing it now he's he couldn't understand why he did it.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [16] Cautioning was originally intended for first time young offenders and those, like this man, guilty of a minor crime.
(PS2SE) [17] What intended to do with yourself is were going to caution you.
[18] Now what that means is that you've admitted the offence which you were arrested for which is er [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [19] But more adults are now being cautioned and for more serious crime.
[20] It was the government's own guidelines three years ago which encouraged cautioning.
[21] They said cautions were acceptable for all age groups for a wide range of unspecified offences.
[22] There was no reason to limit cautions to one, prosecution should be the last resort.
(PS2SE) [23] I want you to sign here and er the bit at the bottom does say that you admit the offence which you were er b er arrested for and then your release for custody will we'll give your your er property back and you will be released.
(PS2SF) [24] Right.
(PS2SE) [25] If you sign just there please.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [26] The cautioning guidelines were intended to ensure consistency among police forces, but in fact they gave chief constables wide discretion.
[27] As a result in some parts of the country you're three times more likely to be cautioned than in others .
(PS2SE) [28] [...] that's sealed in there, there you go sir.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [29] In some police stations we've identified criminals actually stand more chance of being cautioned than prosecuted.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [30] Follow this officer she'll show you out.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [31] Okay.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [32] For this man the ordeal of several hours in a police cell is over there 'll be no court case, no difficult explanations for his employer.
[33] All he has to cope with is his own shame.
(PS2SF) [34] It's something for my wife which I can't afford cos I've been off sick so I thought it would be something nice for her.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [35] Can I ask you what your reaction was when you knew you were going to be cautioned and not prosecuted?
(PS2SF) [36] Total relief.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [37] What would have been the consequences for you had you been prosecuted?
(PS2SF) [38] Possibly the loss of my job.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [39] It's a salutary lesson for you is it?
(PS2SF) [40] Oh certainly yeah, yeah.
[41] I'm grateful for being let off. [noise - traffic]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [42] Cautioning has advantages and not only for the offender.
[43] It saves the government more than a hundred million pounds by cutting the number of expensive court hearings, and it's a quick and easy way for the police to clear up crime.
[44] The most dramatic rise in cautioning in England and Wales has been for adult offenders.
[45] In Cheshire, according to figures obtained by Public Eye, adult cautions have nearly trebled in the last four years.
[46] In Hampshire the figures have nearly doubled.
[47] In Merseyside too the number of adult cautions has almost doubled.
[48] Overall, cautioning for all offenders, which was falling before the nineteen ninety guidelines were introduced, is now steadily increasing.
[49] Last year there were two hundred and sixteen thousand cautions given for indictable offences, those serious enough to be tried in a crown court.
[50] But under the present Home Secretary, Michael Howard, the climate is changing.
michael howard (PS2SG) [51] I think repeated cautioning and cautioning for serious offences are completely unacceptable and I know you do to. [applause]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [52] If the Home Secretary is worried about cautioning he need look no further than Folkestone, his own constituency, and the rest of Kent.
[53] The latest Home Office figures show that Kent has the highest cautioning rate in the country.
[54] Magistrates, victims of crime, the police and even offenders agree cautioning has got out of hand.
[55] A more serious concern is the extent to which it is undermining faith in the criminal justice system.
[56] [dramatic music] Across Kent crime rose by fifteen percent in nineteen ninety two that's more than twice the national average.
[57] Unpublished figures obtained by Public Eye show that fifty seven percent of offenders were cautioned rather than prosecuted.
[58] You stand nearly three times as much chance of getting a police caution in Kent as you do in South Wales.
(PS2SH) [59] I'm concerned that er people are not being brought to justice.
[60] And er that er very often the criminal fraternity are looking at it as a ways and means of getting out of coming to court.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [61] These young men are known to police in the county.
[62] Some have criminal convictions, all say they have been cautioned or warned by the police several times.
[63] One of them three months ago for a violent attack.
[64] Causing grievous bodily harm to someone now you might say that's a very serious offence which you should expect to be prosecuted.
(PS2SJ) [65] [...] it is but
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...] [laugh]
(PS2SJ) [66] then again all I turned round and said the bloke that I hit, he said he didn't want to press charges, but then I thought the police can bring out their own prosecution against me but they turned round and said no he doesn't want to press charges so we'll just caution you again.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [67] You must have been very surprised that you weren't pro
(PS2SJ) [68] I was then , cos like I done his jaw in, I done his nose in and I thought this is it.
[69] I thought I'm going down this time.
[70] And they just said were caution you and I walked out of there and I started laughing. ...
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [71] What sort of things do they say to you?
(PS2SJ) [72] Er they take you into the office, tell you to sit down, and they look at you as if you're a little schoolboy.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [73] Mm.
(PS2SJ) [74] And they say right Mr we caution you for er what ever you done next time you do it we'll take you for court for it .
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...] [laugh]
(PS2SJ) [75] You just walk out the police station I run up the road I was laughing my head off.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [76] Do you think it's an encouragement also to erm go out and commit more crimes if you're cautioned?
(PS2SK) [77] Yeah you do, you tend to go out and commit more crime because of You've been let out you've been let off really ...
(PS2SJ) [78] That's the buzz of it, innit really ?
(PS2SK) [79] And you go out and do the same thing again and you're getting le let off for the same thing all the time and you think you're going to get away with it all the time.
(PS2SJ) [80] Yeah.
[81] I wouldn't say it encourages you but it sort of you know you're going to get away with it.
[82] You get one caution an and er I thought the limit was two you get t two cautions and you get took to the court.
[83] So I knew that I could go out again and get another caution, that's why I did it, really.
[84] Then if I get caught I just get a caution and that's it.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [85] What does cautioning mean to you?
(HE5PS000) [86] Nothing.
[87] You go down there they slap you on the wrist you walk away from it and go and do it again.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [88] What about if you'd received a harsher sentence?
(HE5PS000) [89] You'd think twice about doing it wouldn't you?
[90] If they like sentence me straight away for doing something like I'd think to myself is it worth it?
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [91] Kent went to the top of the cautioning league under Paul , now commissioner of the Metropolitan police.
[92] When the new Chief Constable took over in March he ordered an immediate review.
[93] The result is likely to be far fewer cautions.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [94] I myself take the view that the criminal justice process generally is the appropriate way to deal with criminal offending and I'm not too happy with the idea that people who commit criminal offences should be dealt with outside the courts.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [95] Isn't it the case though that people in Kent, offenders in Kent, have become used to the idea that cautioning will be the norm?
[96] That they won't be prosecuted, at least for some minor offences?
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [97] I think this is not just a problem in Kent, I think that there has been a erm an undue er move in this direction nationally, er for what ever reasons public policy was very much about keeping people out of the courts, er I suspect that this is er er a policy which is of doubtful philosophical underpinning. [captain pugwash music. video arcade]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [98] In Margate crime rose by twenty percent last year we found that for the victims of crime here the use of cautioning has undermined confidence in the justice system.
[99] They can get compensation only if the case goes to court.
[100] [electronic beeping] This centre for the elderly has been broken into four times in two years.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [101] All on his own little willy number one.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [102] Ooh.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [103] You poor old [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [104] Many of the volunteers are pensioners themselves.
[105] The last time it suffered a break in, the intruder badly damaged a door.
[106] He was caught in the act but got off with a caution.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [107] You lot of woofers. [...]
(PS2SD) [108] We had been told at the time he had been in trouble before.
[109] We got a letter from the Kent constabulary to say that erm he'd been let off.
[110] And I felt absolutely horrified, devastated to think that he could have done that sort of damage and just walked away he didn't even have to pay for the damage he'd done.
[111] I was I was so angry and and I see him a out and about and when I first saw him about I could have I could have run him down.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [112] Figures we've obtained for the first three months of this year show astonishing variations in cautioning rates across Kent.
[113] In Margate for example there were far more prosecutions then cautions, the same is true in other places such as Medway and Tunbridge Wells.
[114] But in other areas, like Canterbury, offenders are more likely to be cautioned than prosecuted.
[115] The same applies to Ashford, where according to our figures the same has happened for the last three years.
[116] So how can it be that there are such enormous variations between different parts of Kent?
[117] [noise - traffic] Privately police officers have told us, decisions on cautioning can depend on how much or how little faith they have in the courts to pass adequate sentences, and on how much paper work is required for a prosecution.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [118] I would be deeply suspicious if the level of consistency were such that the figure were absolutely the same in every area because that would suggest to me that no discretion was going into the process.
[119] If if if you were talking about er high levels of variance then clearly erm they need to be addressed.
[120] It is exactly because of that level of variance and because we considered er that multiple cautioning on some occasions, I think on the figures I have examined about six percent of occasions, er were unjustifiable that we have reviewed our policy. [noise - traffic]
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [121] Are you aware of other people in the area [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [122] John would welcome anything that might put more criminals back in court .
(PS2SE) [123] Well not as many, er there is the odd break in here and there but no one has had the sort of amount that I have erm [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [124] He's a former chairman of the magistrates association and has spent thirty one years on the bench.
[125] He's witnessed a substantial fall in the number of offenders appearing in his Ashford court.
(PS2SE) [126] They know we're out and they're targeting their premises.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [127] Do you reckon it's the same man ?
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [128] This experience is reflected across the county where the number of criminal cases has fallen by ten percent in the last three years.
[129] He attributes part of that to the rise in cautioning.
[130] ... John joined other senior magistrates who told us they're concerned about cautioning.
[131] Magistrates who are unused in public at least are criticizing the police, they say their policy has gone too far.
(PS2SF) [132] They are making decisions behind closed doors, they are making decisions erm arbitrary decisions, without the benefit of accountability to the public and that to me is the most serious er long term aspect of the increase in cautioning.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [133] You're concerned at at there being private justice not public justice?
(PS2SF) [134] Indeed, well I d I I don't call it justice.
[135] It's private decision making.
michael howard (PS2SG) [136] I honestly believe that this is a a a financial exercise that the government have imposed on the criminal justice system.
[137] Now I'm not opposed to cautioning, of course not, the odd one or two occasion I think it's highly effective.
[138] But it is being used I believe as a scapegoat to get the government off the hook for financial reasons.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [139] What evidence do you have from your own court about multiple cautions?
(PS2SH) [140] Only last week, the last time I sat in court er there was an instance of one individual who had had twelve cautions in a period of eight months er he was still a youth so his name obviously can not be divulged, erm and it's not only the cautions, I wonder how many warnings he'd received as well.
[141] We as magistrates do try and be consistent in our sentencing er throughout the country, I think it's beholden on the police to be consistent in their approach to offenders, as well, and it seems quite wrong that someone in Folkestone gets away with doing something with a guy in Wigan er goes before the court.
[142] There is a a colossal amount of inconsistency er of a kind that if we were to practice such inconsistency in our courts there would be there would be absolute outcry and it's it's something of a scandal I think that er that the police and the executive generally are apparently able to get away with inconsistencies which we are not. [swimming bath noises of screaming children]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [143] The story of Dave is a remarkable tale of coincidence and injustice.
[144] He was coaching his local swimming team when police told him his car was being broken into.
[145] The damage amounted to two hundred and fifty pounds.
(PS2SJ) [146] [...] those legs, go go go.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [147] It was the sixth time in a year he'd been a victim of crime, but this time the culprits, two youths, had been arrested.
(PS2SJ) [148] After a little while they got back to me and says right one's finally broken down, the seventeen year old, it took them an hour and an half, we've broke him down he's admitted he's done it.
[149] I said right, what's the situation now?
[150] They said we've got a good chance now of prosecuting 'em.
[151] Would you be willing to prosecute?
[152] I said bloody sure I'd be willing to prosecute.
[153] I'd said after all I've had done to me I said you've caught 'em, I'll prosecute.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [154] Twice a week for four months Dave would contact the police waiting for news of the court case.
[155] In the summer he was stopped by the police for overloading his builder's van.
[156] When he returned from a holiday in August he had some unwelcome news.
(PS2SJ) [157] Right, I have two letters on the side I open the first one.
[158] The first one relates to the child who broke into my car, I won't call him a child he's a bloody toerag as far as I'm concerned, who broke into my car has been given a caution, a bloody caution.
[159] Caught him with a screwdriver in his hand he's admitted he's done it and he's got let off.
[160] Ta da, don't be a naughty boy again.
[161] I open the second letter, would you please appear in court cos you were overloaded, you are being prosecuted.
[162] Well I thought if that ain't British justice I don't know what is.
[163] To get two letters
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [...]
(PS2SJ) [164] in one day I is I thought it was a classic.
[165] Thank you very much, you've copped it both ends Mr
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [166] The final irony, it was the same Chief Inspector who had signed both the letters he received.
[167] One of the victims we have spoken to in Kent received two letters on the same day.
[168] One informed him that the seventeen year old offender who had caused two hundred and fifty pounds worth of damage to his car had been formerly cautioned.
[169] The other letter informed the victim that he was going to be prosecuted for overloading his builder's van, he was in fact prosecuted and fined.
[170] His comment to us was British justice, that's not British justice.
[171] What do you think of that sort of situation?
(PS2SK) [172] Erm, I would share his view.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [173] You think it was wrong that he should have been prosecuted and the person who damaged his car should not?
(PS2SK) [174] Well I don't know th th the er the detail of the circumstances nor the matters that went into the judgement, but in the way you have explained it to me and if all those facts are as are as simple and plausible as you as you say, then yes I would agree with him.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [175] And you wouldn't want that sort of thing to happen in future?
(PS2SK) [176] I would not.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [177] Elsewhere in the country similar views are being expressed among victims of crime where the offender was cautioned.
[178] More than two thirds of people surveyed in Gloucestershire said they were dissatisfied that the offender involved had been cautioned.
[179] Most of those said they wanted them taken to court.
[180] Three quarters said they hadn't been consulted before a caution was given, and sixty two percent of our sample thought offenders should only be entitled to one caution no matter whether the crime was committed by an adult or juvenile.
[181] [noise - traffic] The picture is different in Northamptonshire where a pioneering approach to cautioning appears to have the backing of victims and those involved in the criminal justice process.
[182] [door knock] But there are fears that the government's vigorous attempts to clamp down on cautioning could mean the end to a well supported and apparently successful scheme.
[183] Here there are few of the excesses of cautioning seen in some other areas, even though prosecution is considered very much the last resort.
(HE5PS000) [184] There are certainly criteria being fulfilled which allows me to deal [...] by means of a formal caution.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [185] Just over a third of those guilty of indictable offences are cautioned, that's around the national average and well below that in Kent.
(HE5PS000) [186] Can you sign there to indicate that you accept the formal caution then [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [187] Custody officers are specially trained to handle cautions, they follow a detailed grading system which helps determine whether a caution is suitable.
[188] Points are awarded or deducted according to the impact of the crime on the victim, for example, and whether the offender is genuinely remorseful.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [189] The person's kept himself out of trouble so is it really right for us to get him back before the courts again?
[190] It well may be that erm you know with the help that er he can be referred to, they help him keep out of trouble again, for a lot longer.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [191] Okay, thanks very much so they're the new cases.
[192] Has anybody got anything [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [193] The key to the approach though lies not just with the police but with the Northants diversion unit.
[194] Social workers, a history teacher and probation officers get together with the police to consider how best to deal with offenders.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [195] He says he thought the passenger was then going to hit him so then he hit him first and er I think [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [196] The unit tries to keep the offenders out of court, an aim that sits uneasily with the government's new philosophy that prison and punishment work.
[197] But the unit also negotiates with offenders to try to encourage them to compensate their victims.
[198] [noise - traffic] One of the units success stories is Richard .
[199] By accepting a caution he was spared a criminal record.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [200] [...] birthday and I'd been out, had a few drinks and that.
[201] A few too many.
[202] And I was walking past and for some silly reason I felt like putting my fist through a couple of windows.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [203] Instead of going to court he paid six hundred and fifty pounds for the damage and apologized to the shop's owner.
(PS2SD) [204] It was quite a shock.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [205] Yeah.
(PS2SD) [206] And then we found out that they'd actually caught you.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [207] Yeah.
[208] And you were jumping around for joy and saying
(PS2SD) [209] Well not really, No no .
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [210] Hang him hang him hang him.
(PS2SD) [211] Well also I could think of [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [212] Both victim and offender are satisfied with the way things turned out.
[213] However one problem with this reparation scheme, as it's known, is that the offender can't be forced to pay up.
(PS2SE) [214] All of our reparation work is based on the fact that we want people to volunteer to do this work.
[215] We want them to volunteer to to pay compensation to the offen Er to the victim, because that way we know that they genuinely have concern over what they've done and they've faced up their responsibilities.
[216] They don't have to pay the the compensation, or make restitution in any way.
[217] It is entirely voluntary.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [218] In some cases though there's no victim to pay compensation to, and there are always those offenders who clearly know how to exploit the system.
[219] It's four o'clock on a Sunday afternoon.
[220] A twenty year old man has been called in for a chat with an inspector.
michael howard (PS2SG) [221] Do you understand why you're here?
(PS2SH) [222] Yeah.
michael howard (PS2SG) [223] Okay, you tell me why you're here.
(PS2SH) [224] For caution erm for carrying an offensive weapon.
michael howard (PS2SG) [225] What I'd say to you is, don't mess up and throw away the opportunity you've been given, because if you do you'll only have yourself to blame.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [226] Whatever goes on inside, outside this man says the caution isn't a deterrent.
(PS2SH) [227] It's not.
[228] It's just summat not to go to court innit?
[229] It's not [...] got to court for sort of like, four or five weeks [...] get adjourned or come up to the police station and then like get your hand slapped.
[230] Just listen to a copper sit there and talk rubbish for a few minutes.
michael howard (PS2SG) [231] [...] reckon if you're seen carrying a knife again, then there's only one clear alternative for you and you've got to know what that is.
[232] Do you know what the alternative would be?
(PS2SH) [233] Custodial sentence.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [234] You're now saying that potentially you would
(PS2SH) [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [235] do it again?
(PS2SH) [236] Yeah, but if you tell them you won't, you just get a caution innit?
[237] No fine, nothing, you just get let off with it.
[238] And you're out again on the streets. [laugh]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [239] So it's a bit of joke really isn't it?
(PS2SH) [240] Yeah it is.
[241] System You know the system just suck.
[242] Sorry I sound like a right right one but it does.
[243] The system's pathetic.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [244] While such attitudes disappoint the police, officers don't find them wholly surprising.
(PS2SE) [245] There are obviously individuals like that.
[246] Similarly there are individuals that go through the court system and are punished, that are perhaps sent to prison, and come out of prison saying it's not going to make any difference, I now know how to break into every type of car, every type of building.
[247] And they're a much more efficient criminal if you like.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [248] Isn't it demoralizing for police officers to see offenders not being prosecuted?
(PS2SE) [249] It's very difficult for police officers who are vi visiting victims of crime every day, to see an offender apparently getting away with it.
[250] But we must look at the long term view.
[251] Our primary objective is to prevent, or reduce, re-offending.
[252] Now we know that our diversion system allows us to do that.
(PS2SF) [253] Nationally the A Ts have see a dramatic reduction [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [254] At one of their regular training days Northamptonshire magistrates are hearing about the virtues of the diversion scheme.
(PS2SF) [255] custody.
[256] This is the the bear results [...] In nineteen eighty three [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [257] These are the converted.
[258] Here there is, unusually, judicial support for cautioning.
[259] One reason is the ninety two percent approval rating it gets from victims of crime, according to a local police survey.
[260] There are plans to expand the scheme in the county to take in more adults.
[261] Magistrates say they're worried the government's attitude to cautioning may mean an end to this local initiative.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [...]
(PS2SJ) [262] Well I think it would be disastrous.
[263] And I think governments would do well to talk to the people at the sharp end, like magistrates, who use this system, work the system, liaise with all the various components in the system and do know what they're talking about.
[264] They're appointed because they're intelligent beings and I think they should be treated as such and consulted.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [265] The new guidelines will tell the police to give no more than two cautions, except in rare circumstances, and to caution only for minor offences.
[266] This is merely the latest example of the home office overturning policies earlier pursued with such vigour.
[267] There've been five home secretaries in four years and civil servants are unclear which direction ministers will take next.
[268] One of them told me the changes they've put now are so dramatic, there might as well have been a change of government.
[269] But Michael Howard is unbowed.
michael howard (PS2SG) [270] In the last thirty years the balance in our criminal justice system has been tilted too far in favour of the criminal and against the protection of the public.
[271] The time has come to put that right. [applause]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [272] One of the officials in charge of shaping the more liberal policies favoured by the home office in the eighties was David .
[273] Now an academic, he's alarmed at what he sees as a policy reversal on cautioning.
[274] He says it'll fail.
(PS2SK) [275] For large numbers come into the criminal justice system unnecessarily, erm that is likely to set back the progress which was made during the nineteen eighties and er increase and reinforce criminality.
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [276] How much of a danger do you think there is that we'll get yet another sea change at the home office and policies on cautioning and criminal justice generally, will be reversed again?
(PS2SK) [277] I'm concerned about a policy which is based on er conviction and punishment.
[278] I mean the policy that er I helped er Douglas Hurd to develop in the nineteen eighties was based on prevention, consultation and cooperation, and moderate use of imprisonment.
[279] A lot of that has been set aside in substance and certainly in the attitudes and language which come from the government.
(HE5PS000) [280] The court has considered the application for bail that has been made by your solicitor, [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [281] Toughening up on crime will cost millions.
[282] the new cautioning rules will put tens of thousands more in court.
[283] those with first hand experience of crime will be watching closely.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [284] You've got to bring back some deterrent to this bloody country, otherwise the next thing you'll be getting is vigilante groups, and if you get vigilante groups then this country is in a hell of a bloody state and you will have bleeding trouble.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [285] This offence for which you have been found guilty [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [286] The name of the game is how can we reduce the amount of offending in this country.
[287] If cautioning could do that we'd all be right behind it.
[288] the fact is that it's not.
[289] It's not a punishment, but even the punishments are not deterring criminals either.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [290] Accordingly we propose to adjourn the matter today [...]
tricia lawton (PS2SC) [291] The home secretary may care to ponder this thought.
[292] Cautioning may have fallen into disrepute but to abandon it will mean a return to the punitive policies that this government had only recently said had failed.
Unknown speaker (HE5PSUNK) [293] Accordingly you'll be remanded in custody for a period of seven days. [theme music to end of recording]