Tag Archives: David Cameron

Stalking is not just a Women’s Issue

The related legal problems and the ambiguous definition of stalking have been an ongoing issue for victims of such crimes. The Protection from Harrasment Act 1997 has been largely ineffective in prosecuting stalkers, while police still seem to fail to respond appropriately to complaints of stalking.

Forms of harrassment can be very complex issues and can be both direct and indirect. There is also an increasing problem of online harrasment and cyber bullying which can be anonymous, making it difficult to trace the perpetrator. Due to the nature of these crimes they can be notoriously difficult to prosecute. This is not only due to the lack of clear and defined legislation, but also the inaction of the police, who often fail to take stalking seriously.

David Cameron is expected to announce that he will be backing a change in the law, making stalking a criminal offence. He is planning to use this Thursday – International Women’s Day – to make the announcement. The significance of trying to make this a women’s issue seems a little misguided however, as stalking does not only affect women. Women can be both victims and perpetrators in these crimes, as can men. Although women have to deal with safety concerns on a daily basis, stalking should not be labelled as an issue relating to a particular sex.

Clare Bernal

For some this change in the law has come too late. A notable,   high profile case has been that of Clare Bernal,  killed by her ex boyfriend after he had stalked her for some time. She had reported him to the police several times, however nothing was done. Without a change in the law it has been difficult for the police to address stalking as a crime because the only existing statute is unclear. These cases are often underreported, the main reason this particular case hit the headlines was because the murder was carried out in a department store in central London.

It is yet to be seen whether this law will be an effective tool with which to address stalking. However, the police do need to approach stalking as a serious problem and provide support for victims, whether they are male or female. This is not exclusively a women’s issue, it would be absurd to claim that only women were affected. After a long wait, stalking seems to have become a subject for public debate. Making such an announcement on International Women’s Day will bring the discussion of stalking into the public sphere, which is welcome, but it will falsely label it as a women’s issue. This would be misrepresentative of the range of people it actually affects, stalking is a serious concern and it is something anyone could be faced with regardless of their sex.

Sentenced for looting? What about corporate fraud?

The sentencing of rioters this summer appeared to be  harsh, disproportionate and policy driven. The government tried to influence sentencing and the judiciary went along with it, handing down long sentences for crimes that would normally barely even reach the court. The damage caused by the riots, especially to small businesses, came at a high cost. The government and the public wanted there to be a consequence for all those involved. The courts proceeded to make an example of those who had looted goods, by giving them prison sentences of up to several years.

Andrew Wetherall outside the court with his wife, who due to her expensive tastes, he claims he committed fraud for

There was a father of two jailed for 18 months for stealing a flat screen tv, a 19 year old was sentenced to 2 years in a young offenders institution for drinking stolen champagne and picking up a pair of stolen trainers, and then the case of the 6 month sentence for stolen water from Lidl. What about ex Labour minister Elliot Morley? He was freed last year after serving only a quarter of his 16 month sentence for claiming 30,000 pounds in expenses. While Andrew Wetherall, the director of KPMG who stole 500,000 pounds by fiddling his expense claims. He was sentenced to 4 years, for a crime that vastly outweighs the cost of a flatscreen tv. The theft of the damage caused by the riots is not insignificant or justifiable, but a custodial sentence is in my opinion highly unsuitable for most of those involved in the riots (community service and restorative justice would be much more helpful in rebuilding communities). It is also completely inconsistent with the large scale theft committed by individuals in government or in charge of running large corporations.

Although figures show that the majority of those arrested for theft last summer were not in fact children, the rioters were still overwhelmingly young people. The media were quick to once again demonize the British youth, even last week there was debate about the discipline of children and whether restrictions on smacking children should be lifted. However, the public seems to ignore the great examples being set by adults in the form of fraudulent businessmen, MP’s and executives of large corporations. These individuals are portrayed in a completely different light to those who stole a tv, a pair of trainers or a bottle of water last summer.

Combined with the lack of prospects, how will the next generation gain respect for our society when those at the top are regularly looting assets to lead lavish lifestyles. When young people see the anarchic behaviour of the rich and the often mild consequences of this behaviour if any, how can we expect them to develop different values? Many people who got caught up in the moment and took part in the chaos, behaved as if it was their right to appropriate goods e.g. a pair of trainers, even trying them on before leaving the ransacked shop. The public were shocked by these details, but how is this different, in fact it is hardly comparable to the behaviour of  Bill Godley, Andrew Wetherall, Elliot Morley, Lord Taylor or the cases of Alstom, BAE etc… The recent corporate fraud cases are too numerous to name.

I’m not condoning stealing, but why is corporate fraud treated like a relatively harmless and victimless crime? On the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service (CIFAS) website, the Chief Executive, Peter Hurst states that although violent/aggravated burglary and scams are different crimes, their consequences are often the same. There are many different fraud cases and many different types theft, but the money stolen is also money lost by others. Those sentenced for looting or theft took goods as if they were entitled to it, just like those who have committed fraud. If judges are quick to make examples of those who looted during the summer riots, why are they not applying the same tactic to those who commit corporate fraud?

Turkey’s Violations of ECHR Highest for 3 Years

When Nicolas Bratza, the head of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), released the figures for ruling against states in 2011 last week, Turkey was again the country with the highest number of violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). With 159 cases that violated the ECHR, this is the 3rd year in a row Turkey has been at the top of the list, painting a dim picture of Turkey’s human rights record. Russia (with 121 cases) and the Ukraine (105) were not lagging far behind. Britain fared comparably well with only 8 violations. However David Cameron’s comments earlier in the week stating that the ECtHR was in danger of becoming a “small claims court”, were not so well received by the Strasbourg based court.
Despite not being an EU Member State, the ECHR, drafted in 1950, places Turkey under the jurisdiction of the ECtHR. Although Turkey signed the protocols of the convention, it has yet to ratify a number of them. Nevertheless, in 1987 Turkey started allowing individuals to file applications and apply to the ECtHR individually, 3 years later it also recognised the compulsory jurisdiction of the court.
The majority of Turkey’s violations concerned the length of proceedings and the right to a fair trial set out by Article 6 of the ECHR. There are currently 16,000 ongoing cases against Turkey, the second-highest number of cases filed against a country under the ECtHR’s jurisdiction. The Turkish government claims it has made considerable progress in improving the human rights situation in the country. Justice Minister Sedat Ergin stated that a series of reforms had been adopted in recent years and insisted that similar legal amendments will continue to improve Turkey’s human rights record. Last year, after a public referendum a number of constitutional reforms were implemented, many relating to the judiciary. These reforms introduced the right to petition the Constitutional Court for human rights violations and established the Ombudsman Office for grievances regarding the misconduct of government agencies and employees.