Riots – Is our Justice system really serving the greater good?

With the dust settling from the widespread violence which swept the UK after the death of Mark Duggan on the 4th of August 2011, many questions surrounding the riots still remain. The government has promised hard line action is to be taken on those involved in the riots, in particular those individuals partaking in looting, burglary and the handling of stolen goods. But with prison populations in England and Wales already at a record high of 86,842, within striking distance of their operational capacity of 88,628, one has to question whether or not the hard line crackdown is really the best course of action.

The justice system in the UK is based upon a simple principle that the punishment shall fit the crime with varying severity dependent on the situation. Therefore it begs the question, why is it that a 16 month jail sentence for a youth stealing an ice cream in Manchester, during the unrest, is seen as a reasonable punishment for the crime, when marginally longer or even shorter sentences are handed out for hit and run crimes which injure or kill victims? It seems as though law and order is more concerned about theft of valuable items as oppose to the loss of human life, despite the fact that stolen goods can be replaced, unlike loved ones.

It seems to me, that the riots of the past month have left a lot of insecurity within policing, personal rights and the punishment system. But the best solution to these problems is far from certain. Is the hard line punishment the best way of dealing with perpetrators? Has or will the government truly answered the real issues behind the violence? Is prison the real answer? Or would community service be more successful in repairing the damage done?  Let us know what you think by commenting below