Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Yesterday I attended the life sentences debate at Nottingham University, with a few other NUCA members, organised by the Howard League for Penal Reform. This was the motion:

It was an interesting motion. The proposition was made up of the sound MP Philip Davies (unfortunately Moya Griffiths the mother of a murder victim got lost in Nottingham because the council spends more on anti-Tory propaganda than road signs). The opposition was Ben Gunn, murderer and "allergic to stupidity", and David Perry QC.

The preliminary vote was 87 for to 159 against and as our President, Big Cheese Barlow, rightly said on twitter #shame.

The debate was very good and entertaining. Philip Davies based it on a case of honesty as we are "in Alice in Wonderland" over the fact life tariffs can mean as little as 3 years in 1 case. Also he pointed out that most of the time the basic and most common life tariff is ten years, which  means that unless there is extreme bad behaviour the sentence is automatically halved to 5 years under an Act from the last Labour Government. What Mr Davies proposed was to actually call each sentence by the number of years it gets so the country can have an honest debate about our criminal justice system. Out of this he would prefer to have longer jail sentences in more Spartan Jails, just like they do in Florida.

The opposition however did get out their violins and offered a more philosophical approach to prison life especially focussing on the suffering on the criminal, although they didn't mention the victims suffering. Also Mr Gunn was very intrusive asking for "points of reference" a lot, which reminded me of filibustering MPs. However, no Mr Bercow was there to call order, a pity.

The final vote was 77 for and 161 against #shame.

My personal views are, as you can probably tell from my unbiased reporting of the event, life should mean life and criminals should get harsher sentences. The cost of prisons should be reduced dramatically and any other costs as Philip Davies rightly pointed out in the end should come from cuts to the foreign aid budget and leaving the EU.

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