Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Edlington boys are not beyond redemption

What does the judge know, after all? In passing sentence on the Edlington boys last week Mr Justice Keith described the case as “exceptional”. But in a speech in Gillingham, David Cameron appeared to suggest that it was anything but. Citing a small number of not completely similar instances, including Baby Peter and Ben Kinsella, the Conservative leader argued that it was a sign of the “social recession” — the more think-tanky way of talking about “Broken Britain”.

Mr Cameron asked: “On each occasion, are we just going to say this is an individual case? That there aren’t any links to what is going wrong in our wider society, in terms of family breakdown, in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, in terms of violent videos, in terms of many of the things that were going wrong in that particular family?”

That Mr Cameron should make a blanket reference in the same speech to “rising violent crime” just when the murder rate has fallen to its lowest for 20 years (including a drop of 102 deaths between 2007-08 and 2008-09, suggesting that medical advance is an inadequate explanation) reminds us that this is a highly politicised moment in our discussion of family. As did the decision of the Home Secretary to announce the extension of the popular Sarah’s Law, allowing parents to check if anyone in contact with their child has a sex offence conviction, just a few weeks before the general election is called. Read more
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