Courts to have powers to strip benefits from criminals

Marius Becker dpa

Amidst all the navel gazing in the aftermath of the riots last month, there are actually some decent proposals emerging and stopping the benefits of those convicted of crime is a good one.

When the figures were released revealing that a staggering 75% of those facing the courts this time round for looting and other criminal activities during the riots already had previous form then one thing became crystal clear – the punishments currently available to the courts simply don't work.
Not only does the idea of withdrawing benefits from those responsible for causing mayhem hit them where it hurts, it also goes some way towards repaying the public finances that were raided to pay the £133million bill for policing and compensation.

So giving courts the legal power – not the Department of Work and Pensions – makes sense.

More expense
It won't be all benefits mind you. Though many people called for rioters living in council houses to be evicted, logically that doesn't make sense as the government will just be obliged to find them accommodation elsewhere, probably in emergency B&Bs at even more expense.

Then there's the fact that many of those involved in the mob scenes and destruction were actually kids and as we know, most of them have no clue whatsoever about family finances. But if you start withdrawing child maintenance or child benefits from those mums and dads and let their little darlings constantly play truant or roam the streets till all hours at night then they'll learn where the money comes from pretty quickly.

The cycle of unemployment-prison-unemployment has also been identified as a key contributing factor to the emergence of what Justice Secretary Ken Clarke calls a "feral underclass" so the idea of fast-tracking those leaving prison with no job prospects into a government work scheme is also a step in the right direction.

It's common sense thinking that is going to sort this mess out, not the sort of hang 'em all hysteria being trumpeted from some quarters.

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