Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rise In Violent Crimes Follows Nationwide Trend

San Diego -- Homicides were up 51 percent in San Diego County during the first half of 2006, but thefts, burglaries and other property crimes decreased, according to a report released yesterday.

Authorities say the increase in violent crime – most likely the result of a rise in gang and drug activity – mirrors a nationwide trend in recent years, said Cindy Burke of the San Diego Association of Governments, which compiled the report.

“A lot of other jurisdictions are seeing a rise in violent crime,” Burke said.

Despite the slight increase from last year, the violent-crime rate in San Diego County remains significantly lower than it was in the mid-1990s, the report states. In 1997, there were 6.6 violent crimes – defined as homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults – for every 1,000 people. For the first half of 2006, the rate was 4.4 per 1,000.


The number of homicides during the first six months of 2006 jumped 51 percent from the same period last year. There were 65 homicides in San Diego County during the first six months of this year compared with 43 during the same period last year.

Robberies were up 12 percent from last year; rapes dropped 10 percent and aggravated assaults dropped 2 percent, the report states.

In all, there were 6,740 violent crimes during the first six months of this year, an average of roughly 37 per day, according to the report, based on statistics from all of the county's unincorporated areas and 18 municipalities.

Property crimes were down slightly from last year. In the first six months of 2006, there were 30.28 property crimes for every 1,000 residents compared with 32 per 1,000 in the first six months of 2005.

Motor-vehicle thefts dropped 5 percent from last year, as did residential burglaries. In total, there were 46,426 property crimes during the first six months of this year, most of them thefts and burglaries, according to the report.

UK Muslim Police Officer Claims Discriminationi

LONDON — A Muslim police officer who was removed from a special unit that guards dignitaries such as Prime Minister Tony Blair has filed a complaint alleging discrimination.

The Independent newspaper reported Tuesday that Amjad Farooq, 39, was removed from London's Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Group SO16 after being told that he was a threat to national security because two of his five children had allegedly attended a mosque associated with a Muslim cleric linked to a suspected terrorist group. The officer also was told that his presence might upset the American secret service, which worked with the Met's 600-officer close-protection unit, the paper said.

A spokesman at Scotland Yard confirmed that a police officer has filed a complaint to an employment tribunal alleging discrimination on the grounds of race and religious belief, but would not identify the employee by name. In August, another Diplomatic Protection Group officer, Alexander Omar Basha, raised concern that if he was seen on television guarding the Israeli Embassy in London his relatives in Lebanon could be in jeopardy during fighting there between Israeli forces and Hezbollah. The Met told him he would not have to guard that embassy. Farooq had been a firearms specialist working for the Wiltshire Constabulary in western England before he was transferred to the Diplomatic Protection Group SO16, which protects officials at government, diplomatic and Metropolitan Police sites. Such officers are required to undergo security vetting, including a counterterrorism check.

The Independent said that on Dec. 16, 2003, the force told Farooq that he had failed the check because his 9-year-old and 11-year-old sons had attended their local mosque for religious studies when the building was associated with an imam the police suspected had links to an extremist Islamic group.Farooq, who denied any such links or inappropriate behaviour, had been working for the Diplomatic Protection Group for six weeks at that point. The Independent quoted Farooq's lawyer, Lawrence Davies, as saying that Muslims such as Farooq often are unjustly seen as a national security threat without any evidence.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Why So Many School Shootings In U.S?

ATLANTA, Georgia (Reuters) -- A rash of deadly shootings at U.S. schools has raised fresh questions about the causes of classroom rampages.

On Monday a gunman attacked a one-room Amish school in rural Pennsylvania, shooting dead three girls before killing himself, police said.

Last week an armed 15-year-old at a Wisconsin school killed the school's principal and in Colorado a drifter took six female high school students hostage, molested them, fatally shot one and killed himself.

School shootings have prompted changes to school safety rules, sparked debate over the availability of guns and prompted a string of academic studies on the causes of stress, depression and violence in young people.

"You need to examine in detail what's going on. Quite apart from the children who are exposed to school violence, the teachers and families are really traumatized and they need a lot of help," said Nadine Kaslow, professor and chief psychologist at Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Advocates of wider gun controls argue that the availability of guns has made it easier for people to commit murder in schools.

"It is extremely easy whether you are a juvenile or a convicted felon or a domestic abuser to purchase a firearm legally or illegally," Peter Hamm of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence told Reuters.

"We believe that there should be criminal background checks on every gun purchase in America bar none and limits on the number of firearms an individual can purchase at one time," he said.

The right of an individual to carry a firearm is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and efforts to link the incidence of gun crime with access to guns are widely disputed.

While two of the recent shootings involved outsiders coming into schools, recent studies focused on student-on-student violence after two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado in April 1999.

In the Columbine incident, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold armed themselves with assault rifles, handguns and home-made bombs and walked through their high school firing on anybody they met in what appeared to be a long-planned spree.

Afterward intense scrutiny of the lives and backgrounds of the pair, who committed suicide, focused attention on school bullying, social cliques as well as the potential effects of the music they listened to and the video games they played. Experts also looked for ways to spot warning signs of violence.

Kaslow said that violence in U.S. schools was a bigger problem than was reported because of the high incidence of bullying, hitting and sexual offenses. Shootings were just an extreme form of that violence.

"We get the message that the way to communicate is through violence and that somehow violence is acceptable," she said, as one explanation for the social factors behind school violence.

Despite the violence, Kaslow said it was important to keep school shootings in perspective.

Only 1 percent of homicides of school-age children occurred in or around school grounds, she said, adding that shootings at suburban or upper-middle-class schools attracted more attention than violence in city schools.

Fifth Girl Dies In Amish School Shooting

A seven-year-old victim of a shooting at an Amish school in the US succumbed to her injuries today, hospital sources said, bringing the toll to five victims dead and six wounded.

The girl, whose age was previously given as eight, "passed away this morning at approximately 4.30am (18:30 AEST) just after being removed from life support", said Sean Young, a spokesman for Penn State Hershey Medical Centre in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

"I believe it was a gunshot wound to the head," Young said when asked what injuries the girl sustained.

A fourth girl died in hospital later, according to Lancaster General Hospital spokeswoman Kim Hatch.

A gunman armed with a huge arsenal of weapons burst into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania today, tied up 11 young girls and systematically executed three of them before killing himself.

Eight other girls were wounded, and CNN today reported one of them had since died. Police say some of the others are so badly wounded they may not survive.

The gunman - a father-of-three who called his wife to say he was exacting revenge for something that happened 20 years ago - lined his terrified young victims up against the blackboard and opened fire.

It is believed the four who died were all shot in the head, as were some of the injured.

Today's attack, at the Amish school in the small town of Nickel Mines, is the third deadly US school shooting in the past week.

US President George W Bush said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy, and has ordered an emergency conference on school violence next week.

The gunman - milk truck driver Charles Carl Roberts, 32 - had ordered 15 boys and some adults in the one-room schoolhouse to leave before opening fire on the girls, who he'd tied up with wire and plastic cables.

Roberts, who was not Amish, had dropped his three school-aged children at their bus stop in the morning, showing no sign of the rampage to come, said Commissioner Jeffrey Miller, of Pennsylvania state police.

But Roberts had left a rambling suicide note and letter to his wife and children, referring to an event 20 years ago for which he sought revenge, and he planned for a lengthy siege.

In a final conversation with his wife before killing himself, Roberts also spokes of his need for "revenge", Miller said.

"He was angry with life and was angry at God ... there may have been a loss of a child at some point in his life," Miller said. He did not elaborate, but local media have reported Roberts had a fourth child who died as an infant.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Doomed To More Crime

By Janet Daley

Why are we all banging our heads against the wall, trying to come up with a cure for our law-and-order problem, when the answer has been on offer for a decade? Tony Blair utters the most insidious claptrap about rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the victim, when the justice system should not "favour" anyone. (Justice is blindfolded, remember?)

Today, David Cameron will propose a homegrown Bill of Rights to replace the foreign-born Human Rights Act, as if national ownership of the law were the solution rather than simply the beginning of the argument.

Mr Blair was doomed from the start on law and order. Once he had uttered that self-cancelling slogan, "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", he was locked into the mindset that he would now like to repudiate if only he had the political nerve.

To approach law enforcement on the premise that all crime is "caused" by social circumstances is to lose the battle before it begins. That is what ordinary people know and what Mr Blair would like to say, but in his speech last week, he funked it.

He implied that there was something deeply wrong with the philosophy that underpinned the criminal justice system, but somehow that question of basic philosophy got lost in a blizzard of procedural changes and confusion about civil liberties - and he left untouched the fundamental problem of a system that most people now see as profoundly out of touch with its purpose.

It was possible to hear the luminously obvious stated yet again last week at a conference organised by Politeia and the Manhattan Institute, the think tank behind New York's law-and-order miracle.

The American police spokesmen, retelling it all for the zillionth time, sounded so positive, so confident, so optimistic - so unlike our own defensive, whingeing criminal justice establishment busily blaming the press, or the politicians, or the public itself, for what seems to be its endemic failure.

Some of us are tired of hearing ourselves say it, but it is still true: we, in which I include politicians of all parties, know what the answer is to this problem.

I have lost count of the number of Home Office ministers and opposition spokesmen who have made their pilgrimages to William Bratton, New York's famous former police chief, to ask, like questing travellers in an Arabian legend, "What is the secret?" - and been duly and patiently told.

Virtually everyone who influences public policy in these matters can recite passages from James Q Wilson's "broken windows" theory of law enforcement.

The principles are so clear and so patently effective: it is crime prevention that matters to quality of life. If you act against the small offences that create a sense of civil disorder - what the British call hooliganism and anti-social behaviour - you prevent the bigger crimes that are bred by a culture of neglect and community breakdown.

In New York, they started by arresting the guys who jumped over the turnstiles in the subway instead of paying, and ended up turning a murder capital into the safest big city in America.

So here is the real mystery. Why hasn't it happened here? Why do British police still act as if the "little" crimes and the epidemic of commonplace destructiveness in the streets are beneath their notice? Why do they not accept that imposing order, as Mr Bratton said again last week, is an essential step to preventing crime? And why do the courts not actively support that concept of policing?

Because there is a lack of political will. Why is this so? And, more to the point, why is the will lacking here when it is not in the United States? Because public officials in America do not suffer from historical class guilt: the guilt that is embodied in that Blairite aphorism about the "causes of crime". This is where Mr Cameron's idea about a Bill of Rights comes in.

In the United States, constitutional rights are guaranteed as part of the 18th-century model of a social contract between the state and the people. The elected government undertakes to enforce the law, and the citizen undertakes to obey it.

Fundamental to this is the notion that the citizen is free to make decisions about whether or not he will commit crime.

Without that assumption - that individuals (unless they are truly mentally unfit) are responsible for their own actions - the entire logic of the system breaks down. So long as we accept the doctrine of socially determined criminality - that if a crime is committed, we are all at fault - we will never, ever be in a position to demand effective prosecution of criminals.

But, of course, many of us do not accept it. Law-abiding people, especially those who are poor and disadvantaged themselves, do not generally believe it is their fault when someone else commits a crime. This view is a self-indulgent, and deeply patronising, luxury of the privileged for whom the acceptance of the burden of guilt is a class shibboleth. Like so much else in British life, it comes down to snobbery.

To refuse to accept the guilt that makes you, a respectable citizen, responsible for criminality, is to mark yourself as a downmarket member of the tabloid rabble. So, bizarrely, social acceptance in enlightened circles requires even people who themselves came from poor, deprived backgrounds, and who did not become criminals, to deny that the poor and deprived might be capable of controlling their own impulses.

Of course, we must deal, as a society, with the problems that can lead people into crime; but that does not have to entail being excessively, irresponsibly lenient with those who have been led.

What follows from this is a disastrous fatalism: we must resign ourselves to the fact that we will never be able to reduce crime until we have solved the social problems of deprivation and poverty. But one thing they have learnt definitively in America, as Mr Bratton says repeatedly, is that good policing affects behaviour.

In other words, even people who are potential criminals can be influenced to make other choices if the community, through its approach to policing, asserts its will. Politicians talk endlessly about "respect" and the role it must play in promoting civil order.

They talk, too, of self-respect (or "self-esteem", as it is known) being a necessary part of this. What could be more essential to self-respect than the belief that you are responsible, under the law, for your own actions?

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Retired Police Officer Shot - Wife Is Held For Questioning

A retired New York City police officer was seriously injured early yesterday when a woman drove up alongside the car he was driving on a Brooklyn street and shot him at least four times, the police said. Within hours, the victim's wife, herself a city police officer, was being held by the authorities in New Jersey in connection with the shooting.

The shooting took place on a bustling weekday morning about 10 a.m. near a school in East New York when, the police said, a woman driving a silver rental car pulled alongside the victim's red Mercedes-Benz, fired a few shots, then sped to the corner.

She then made a U-turn and returned and fired several more times before driving off, the police said.

No one else was injured in the shooting.

Some security guards from Junior High School 166 across the street ran to help the wounded man inside the car, which was stopped in the middle of Van Siclen Avenue near Linden Boulevard with its windows shattered.

"He was saying, 'I'm going to die, I'm going to die,' and they were saying, 'Don't say that,' " said Brandon Wigley, 12, who is in seventh grade at the school and who said he was buying a snack at a vending machine in the school when he heard the gunfire and ran outside to see what had happened.

On the street, the police recovered four shell casings from a Sig Sauer, a type of gun used by New York City police officers.

The injured officer, identified by his mother and an ex-wife as Todd B. Jamison, 43, was listed in stable condition last night at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, the authorities and Mr. Jamison's relatives said.

The police said he had been shot at least four times in the torso.

His mother, Bernice Jamison, 65, said one bullet nearly pierced her son's heart.

"I almost lost my child," she said. "He's my youngest child and I almost lost him this morning."

Ms. Jamison said she was worried that her son might lose the use of an arm, since its bones were shattered, and she said that part of his intestines would have to be removed in a second round of surgery. Last night, she said her son was having trouble breathing.

Mr. Jamison, who lives on Staten Island, retired last year from the Police Department, where he spent much of his career working in the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn, most recently as a community affairs officer, said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. Mr. Jamison joined the force in 1985, the police said.

"All indications are that he did an excellent job and he was well known in the community and well known in the precinct," Mr. Kelly said.

No criminal charges had been filed in the case as of last evening, but Mr. Kelly said that detectives investigating the shooting were questioning Mr. Jamison's wife, who joined the force in 1994 and was also assigned to the 70th Precinct.

Later, the police said they had probable cause to hold the woman, identified by Mr. Jamison's mother as Alison Jamison.

Alison Jamison, 42, was stopped at a Budget Rent a Car facility at Newark International Airport sometime in the early afternoon, after the shooting, Mr. Kelly said. When she was taken into custody she was with a female friend, the police said.

The police said that Alison Jamison would be held overnight and that the authorities in New York would seek a court hearing to extradite her today.

Asked if the department had any indications of problems between Mr. Jamison and his wife, or if the police had been called to their Staten Island address for reports of domestic problems, Mr. Kelly said: "At this time, we have no record of that. We are still looking into it, but as of this juncture there is no indication of that."

Bernice Jamison said that her son and Alison Jamison met in 2003 and were married last July, her son's third marriage, but that about five weeks ago he had moved back home with her, on Essex Street, in East New York.

She said that Alison Jamison called her shortly after her son left yesterday morning to ask where he was. Mr. Jamison, who works as an athletic director at Nazareth Regional High School in Flatbush, may have been on his way to the school, she said.

"She seemed to be a very intelligent girl," Bernice Jamison said of her daughter-in-law. "I loved her and she loved me." She added, "Now, I don't know how I feel about her."

Nate Schweber contributed reporting for this article.


Oakland Officer Files Slander Suit Against City

A former Oakland police officer sued the city for slander after being cleared of charges he was part of a rogue band of police officers known as "the Riders" that planted evidence and abused suspects.

Matt Hornung, 34, is seeking $5 million in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed April 3 in San Francisco federal court. The suit accuses officers Keith Batt and Steve Hewison and Sgt. Jon Madarang of lying in court to try to convict Hornung and two other officers.

The suit claims the defendants slandered Hornung when they called the accused officers "bad apples" and "a cancer which needed to be cut from the department."

They "engaged in a series of lies and false testimony" and need to be held accountable for their actions, said Hornung's attorney, Ed Fishman of Sebastopol.

A spokeswoman for Oakland City Attorney John Russo declined to comment because she had not seen the lawsuit.

Hornung, Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag and Jude Siapno were accused of abusing their power by assaulting or framing West Oakland residents in 2000.

A fourth officer, alleged ringleader Frank Vazquez, is a fugitive. All four were fired.

After two trials, Hornung was acquitted of making a false statement in a police report and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Mabanag and Siapno after a jury deadlocked on most of the counts against them.

The three officers are seeking reinstatement. A hearing is scheduled April 21 in Alameda County Superior Court on whether to send the case to arbitration.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Driver Convicted Of Shooting Police Officer

The punishment phase of a man convicted of attempted capital murder for shooting a Houston police officer resumes this morning after being delayed briefly Thursday when the judge ordered he be taken from the courtroom for speaking while a witness testified against him.

A jury convicted Wendell Roy Mitchell, 34, early Thursday in the wounding of Houston police officer Raul Montelongo Jr. during a traffic stop April 22.

He faces 15 years to life in prison. The punishment phase is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m.

Mitchell told investigators he did not intend to kill Montelongo when he fired his pistol. Jurors could have found him guilty of the lesser charge of deadly conduct if they had determined he had no intention of killing the officer.

During the trial's punishment phase late Thursday, several witnesses testified about Mitchell's previous arrest for robbing restaurants in 1990 in Houston and Jacinto City.

While Jacinto City Police Chief Joe M. Ayala read from a written statement Mitchell made when he was arrested and admitted committing one of those robberies, Mitchell pleaded with the judge, saying he had not made the statement.

"Your honor, I didn't write those things in that statement," he said in a calm, soft voice.

State District Judge Belinda Hill told bailiffs to escort the jury from the courtroom and to take Mitchell to a holding cell outside the court. She recessed court for about 10 minutes.

When court resumed but before the jury returned, she admonished Mitchell not to make any more outbursts or he would be returned to the holding cell.

He remained quiet for the remainder of testimony Thursday.

Mitchell told investigators after his arrest that he meant only to scare Montelongo when he fired his .380-caliber pistol as the officer stood within about a foot of him after stopping him for speeding in the 8400 block of the Eastex Freeway, according to court records.

"I believe him, because he's not a murderer," his mother, Lillian Davis, said outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced..

Montelongo, 36, said he was happy about the verdict.

"It's satisfying, knowing the justice system worked," he said outside the courtroom.


Man Fatally Shot By Holland Police Officer After Chase

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — A driver who crashed into a police car and tried to run over an officer following an attempted traffic stop was fatally shot by a city police officer early Friday, authorities said.

The shooting happened about 2 a.m. in a parking lot, The Grand Rapids Press reported. The name of the man who was killed was not immediately released, nor was the identity of the officer who shot him.

Police said an officer tried to stop the driver, but that the motorist sped off. After eventually pulling into the parking lot, police said the vehicle hit a patrol car several times and the driver tried to run over an officer.

The driver was shot and taken to a local hospital, where he died, police said. It was uncertain how many officers were involved, the newspaper said. Holland police asked Michigan State Police to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Crime And Probation

By David Fraser

Each week, a murder or rape is committed by offenders supposedly under supervision. Yet, even knee-deep in evidence of its own failure, the National Probation Service cannot acknowledge its inability to reform these criminals. It is all a deadly con trick, writes David Fraser, who spent years working in the service

When I read that four of the six men who raped, tortured and then murdered the schoolgirl Maryann Leneghan were on probation, I felt angry and desperately sad. But I was not in the least surprised: I realised long ago that probation is a gigantic con trick played on the public.

I spent 34 years working with criminals. For most of those years, I was trying to reform criminals, first as an officer, then a manager, in the probation service. I witnessed at first hand the contempt of most criminals for the "rehabilitation sessions" - which then lasted, at most, half an hour a week - that were supposed to persuade them out of a life of crime.

Most of the criminals, when they did not see the sessions as a huge joke, thought our conversations a pointless bore. Their behaviour showed it: when they were not talking to me, they simply continued their criminal careers. That, to me, demonstrated just how futile the attempts to turn them into law-abiding citizens were.

Almost all governments since the 1960s have tried to convince the public that probation works and prison does not. In fact, that is the exact opposite of the truth. Probation, parole and community sentences fail miserably at reforming criminals. The reality is that if criminals are in prison, they cannot commit crimes. If they are in the community, they can - and they do.

The Government spends enormous amounts of money, time and energy on trying to deny this obvious truth. The statistics are blatantly fiddled to "prove" that probation and community sentences are as effective as prison at reducing crime.

The only way to get this result is simply to refuse to recognise that when in prison, criminals cannot commit crimes. So that is precisely what happens. The reconviction rates of prisoners are measured from the time of their release, while the reconviction rates of those on probation or community supervision are measured fom the start of the order. Even on that spurious comparison, which is blatantly and deliberately mendacious, the two rates of conviction are broadly similar.

The conjuring trick has the desired effect: it fools most people into thinking that probation is "just as good" as prison. Recent events, however, should have gone some way towards dispelling that illusion.

Damien Hanson, who stabbed the banker John Monckton to death in his Chelsea home, was on parole. Yousef Bouhaddaou, who murdered Robert Symons when the school teacher disturbed him as Bouhaddaou was burgling his house, was also under the supervision of the probation sevice.

Now we know that Michael Johnson, the ringleader of the group of vile and vicious sadists who murdered 16-year-old Maryann was on community supervision, as were three of the others involved. None of these hideous murders would have happened if the men had been in jail.

Harry Fletcher, the secretary of the National Associaton of Probation Officers, and Martin Wargent, the chief executive of the Probation Boards Association, have both been in the press and on the radio defending the service, and quoting a new statistic: that, of the 13,000 offenders who are assessed by the probation service to pose a "high or a very high" risk to the public, only "0.6 per cent committed serious offences last year".

That sounds as if it is an impressive testament to the National Probation Service's success. It starts to seem somewhat less so when you realise that "serious offences" covers such crimes murder, rape, arson and armed robbery.

It does not include assault, actual bodily harm, burglary, fraud or theft. Even if the "0.6 per cent of 13,000" statistic is correct, it still means that, on average, someone is raped or murdered or seriously injured each week by a criminal supposedly under the supervision of the probation service.

The admission that decisions by the probation service result in "only" one murder, rape or similarly serious offence a week does not sound like something to boast about. Again, these are all crimes that would not have happened had the criminal not been released to be supervised by the probation service.

It is an outrage. Those murders and rapes, not to say millions of lesser crimes, are wholly the result of the Government's policy of preferring probation, parole and "community punishments" to prison.

Moreover, it is important to point out that Johnson and the three others who murdered Maryann Leneghan while on probation would not be counted as among the "0.6 per cent" of offenders "assessed as high risk who reoffended last year". Astonishingly, they would all be classified, in Home Office statistics, not as a failure, but as a success for the probation service. This is for two reasons.

First, although the murder of Maryann was committed during their period of probation, they were not convicted of the crime or, indeed, charged with it until after that probation period was over. According to the probation service's definition of a "successfully completed period of supervision", these men did exactly that.

Amazingly, offences committed during the probation period do not count. Only offences for which a criminal is convicted while he is on probation are recorded in Home Office statistics as a "failure" of probation.

Second, Johnson et al were all assessed as at a "low risk", which automatically rules them out of being among the "13,000 high-risk offenders", of whom "only 0.6 per cent committed serious offences last year".

So a statistic that looks, on the surface, as if it is a tribute to the success of the probation service, is actually an example of its multiple failures. Although the probation service is able to predict accurately how likely criminals are to reoffend, it fails to stop them doing so.

This is as true of the probation service's much-vaunted "intensive supervision" courses as it is of the probation or parole consisting of a bog-standard, half-hour meeting a week. Consider, for example, the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme, which the Government introduced, at a cost of £98 million, as an alternative to sending young offenders to prison.

A recent assessment of that programme showed that it had been a total failure: a staggering 91 per cent of the juvenile offenders were reconvicted of an offence while they were still on the programme. But was that enough for it to be recognised as a failure by those within the criminal justice industry? Absolutely not.

Incredibly, Ellie Roy, the chief executive of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, insisted that a 91 per cent failure rate was, in fact, "a success". She claimed that "young people on the programme commit 40 per cent fewer crimes than previously, and those they do commit are much less serious".

Ms Roy's defence is spurious: she could not know either how many or how severe the offences that the juvenile offenders on the course were committing. All she or anyone else could possibly know for certain were the offences that the courts had found these young people guilty of committing.

Since about 20 times as many offences are committed as result in criminal convictions, this suggests that the young criminals on the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme were busy committing far more offences than those which they were actually convicted for while on the course.

The real recidivist rate on that programme was almost certainly not 91 per cent: it was 100 per cent. That is a failure by any standard - except, of course, the one that the National Probation Service uses.

It is the same story with just about every form of probation you care to consider. What Works - the special programme that was claimed, as its name suggests, to work, in direct contrast to earlier programmes - turned out not to work after all: 84 per cent of the criminals on that programme were convicted of offences committed while they were taking part.

Drug Testing and Treatment Orders, also rolled out with much fanfare by the Government as an effective way of dealing with crime "in the community", had an even higher rate of failure: 90 per cent of the criminals on that programme were convicted of offences committed while they were on it.

The Home Office statistics show that the rate of reconviction for all males on probation is more than 60 per cent. And, remember, these statistics count only reconvictions. When you consider that about 20 offences are committed for every one that results in a conviction, the real rate of reoffending is going to be far higher.

The Home Office and the Government is perfectly well aware of these figures - and of the shattering failure of probation and related "community sentences" which they represent. The truth is that criminals placed in the community commit crimes. No one knows that better than Government ministers and civil servants at the Home Office. Why, then, do they deny it in public?

There is a simple answer: money. The Government argues that probation and parole are, compared with prison, cheap. In reality, the cost of crime (at least £60 billion a year) far outweighs the cost of prisons. The only way of preventing criminals from committing crimes that is known to be effective is to lock them in prison.

But keeping criminals in prison is expensive. The Government would have to embark on a massive prison-building programme if it were to replace probation, parole and community sentences with incarceration.

No one in the Government, and certainly no one in the Treasury, is prepared to spend the enormous sums that would be required. So they keep on peddling the false promise that probation, parole and community sentences protect us all just as well as prison.

Honest, law-abiding people are the victims of this policy of pretending that probation does anything to reduce crime. It does not. The Government has evidently made the decision that it is too expensive to put criminals out of circulation, and that they must be allowed to prey on the rest of us.

Perhaps a majority of us would turn out to share the view that the millions of additional crimes, which include scores of murders and rapes, is a price worth paying. Somehow I doubt it.

But we have not been asked: instead, we have been lied to and conned, fed phoney statistics and imaginary "success" rates for probation, and told that everything is going just fine. It is not. The sooner we all realise that fact and see through the probation con-trick, the better.

• David Fraser is the author of A Land Fit for Criminals (Book Guild Publishing; £17.99), available in bookshops from Thursday or by telephoning 01825 873133.

22-Year-Old Arrested In Shooting Of Officer

Seattle -- A 22-year-old man was arrested Saturday night for allegedly shooting a Puyallup police officer in the face. The man is being held on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm. His name was not released.

The officer, who has served more than 14 years on the force, was in stable condition at Tacoma General Hospital late Saturday after being shot at Puyallup's South Hill mall.

Gary Shilley, 51, was investigating a suspicious vehicle at the mall about 12:20 a.m. when he was shot, police said.

He was shot once in the face, police said, but was able to call for help.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Police Search For Street Racer Who Struck Officer

Brent Whiting
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 21, 2006 12:00 AM GOODYEAR - A Goodyear police officer escaped serious injury early Sunday when he was struck by a street racer who swerved and apparently tried to run him down, police said Monday.

Authorities say Sgt. Chris McCall had stepped out of his patrol car and fired his service weapon at the oncoming vehicle just before being hit.

McCall, a 10-year veteran of the Goodyear force, was taken to a Phoenix hospital for treatment but did not suffer any serious injury, said Ralph McLaughlin, a Goodyear police commander.

The incident occurred on Litchfield Road near the entrance to the Phoenix-Goodyear Municipal Airport after McCall and other officers tried to stop vehicles that were street racing, McLaughlin said.

Up to 40 vehicles had been racing in the area, McLaughlin said. Some of the cars raced past McCall, but the driver of one vehicle swerved toward him.

Police have several leads, but the driver has yet to be identified, McLaughlin said.

To offer information, call Robert Frederick, an Arizona Department of Public Safety investigator, at (602) 223-2363.