Sentences I don’t understand

images (88)The value of custodial sentences for Andy Coulson and his fellow conspirators is surely questionable. As a society that locks up far more people than most of our neighbours his punishment is something that is hard to justify in terms of the best outcome for his victims and the best form of punishment for him and his colleagues. However that it is what we have and what he will get. The newspapers appear to be suggesting that his sentence is a very severe one. The impact on the many victims of hacking was devastating and the sheer scale of these thousands of invasions of privacy over many years were huge. The idea of one person being held ultimately responsible for the actions is very appealing and if that was the case their punishment would need to be seen to be significant. Are the papers right?

Nicholas Robinson 23 was jailed for 6 months for stealing a crate of water during the riots of 2011. He had no criminal record, pleaded guilty and showed remorse.

David Beswick 31 was jailed for 18 months for handling stolen goods, most commentators would have expected a community sentence.

Mother-of-two Ursula Nevin was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city centre store.

Whilst I do not believe our prisons need to see the likes of Coulson for any longer than the judge has decided, I do question if his sentence is at all appropriate. These three cases were all sentenced based in part on their context. Because of the revulsion regarding the riots, these three people all spent time in prison when their crimes did not on the face of it warrant such treatment. The debate this morning is primarily about the sentencing of Rolf Harris and if that was too lenient. Its inevitable that the focus on Andy Coulson will slip into the shadows for a short time. When it re-emerges what will the public make of the largest sentence to date for the phone hacking activity being 18 months? Of course the outrage felt by the public in 2011 over the riots was being fuelled in part by people who are quite a bit closer to Andy Coulson and his colleagues than they were to David Beswick and Ursula Nevin.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Journalism, Justice Issues, Phone Hacking, Policing, UK Riots in August 2011 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s