I WAS visiting family in Ireland when I heard that in England they had started shooting nine-year-olds getting ready for bed. Olivia Pratt-Korbel was shot as her mother stood in front of her by a masked gunman who had barged into the family’s home in pursuit of his intended target. Neither Olivia nor her mother, Cheryl, who was also hit, knew the men.
This killing is the very definition of evil. That a nine-year-old child cannot even be safe in her own home at bedtime is a scandal; it is monstrous, it is wicked. It is a stone-cold attack on Olivia, her family, the law-abiding community in Liverpool and the law-abiding people of this country in general.
But talk to me about those tax cuts again, Liz Truss.
This outrage, this attack on a most precious and innocent child has been a long time coming. My view is simple: evil exists. I feel I have an advantage knowing this, as there are many people out there that think there is no such thing as evil, or darkness or the devil himself, and therefore have no idea how to fight them. But there is no question that evil exists; the question for a civilised society is how do we protect citizens from this evil. Currently the answer is: not very well at all.
Remember how the Tories used to be viewed as the ‘tough on crime party’. Remember how they used to be mocked by the left-wing press as the ‘lock ’em up brigade’. You never hear that now. You certainly never hear from the ‘hang ’em high’ brigade, which is the only thing the monstrous killer of Olivia Pratt-Korbel deserves, but then having such a view makes you the bad guy. Somehow executing child killers is now seen as evil, and not the child killing itself.
Anyway, I digress. We are never getting the gallows back, but I would settle for a functioning criminal justice system. The truth is that after 12 years of Tory-led government, 12 years of ‘the tough on crime’ party, our criminal justice is crumbling. The critical thing about preventing crime, dear reader, as well as solving and punishing criminal acts, is that you must have a criminal justice system that works, and we don’t have that. The criminal justice system is dysfunctional; this is why recorded crime has risen to a 20-year high yet the proportion of offences leading to court action has hit a new low. In 2021-22, only 5.6 per cent of offences led to a suspect being summonsed or charged, compared with 16 per cent in 2014-15.
The police are failing. Amazingly they have managed to be both woke, street-dancing dimwits who have no interest in preventing and solving crimes, yet at the same time, for all their taking the knee and Pride march participation, manage to be infested with institutional misogyny, racism and homophobia. The evil kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving officer sums up how far and how deep and how terrible the rot goes.
The criminal court system has been crumbling for years. Criminal barristers will go on strike on Monday, deprived of adequate funding for years, worsening the backlog of Crown Court trials which stands at 60,000. This was pushed to an all-time high because of lockdown. So, whether you want more bobbies on the beat, more barristers prosecuting the criminals that the bobbies have caught, more courts for trials, and more prisons to ‘lock ’em up’, every single one of those areas has been cut by Tory governments. I sense they thought there would be little sympathy for ‘fat cat lawyers’ who defend alleged rapists, but the thing is, you can’t put rapists behind bars without a trial – and for that you need lawyers, both prosecution and defence.
But surely the most important aspect is policing, as this is where crime can be prevented. It is only policing that keeps nine-year-old girls safe in their homes at night. You have to make it difficult for criminals to operate. You have to care about the ‘small stuff’, the broken windows. It is not just a case of ‘stuff happens’. This is what the evil-doers want you to think. New York was a crime-ridden hell-hole in the 70s and 80s – it wasn’t somewhere Carrie Bradshaw would even dream of going until Mayor Rudy Giuliani put the broken windows theory into practice.
Poor public policy has consequences. In particular, poor policing strategy has consequences, and is usually the most vulnerable who are impacted the most.
A final word to the ‘lock ’em up brigade’. The thing about locking criminals up for a long time (the serious ones, the nasty ones) is that then they are not free to burst into the homes of little girls at bedtime to continue their gangland feud. If you lock up dangerous criminals they can sort out all their feuding in prison, where they should have plenty of time on their hands. Only then can the children have a peaceful bedtime story instead of being fatally shot in their own homes.
Olivia Pratt-Korbel 2013 – 2022
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.