Exemplary prison sentences needed to prevent a recurrence of rioting

The first convictions reported this week were for unspecified public order offences resulting in comparatively lenient sentences of 10-16 weeks in custody.  Other prosecutions for theft and burglary have been announced.  Juveniles have been released with no apparent punishment at all.

After the terrible fires and looting which have shamed Britain all round the world, as well as destroying some hundreds of businesses, the public will want to see prosecutions in the Crown Courts for the much more serious crimes of riot and arson, the latter carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

While in the present circumstances, arson by individuals may be more difficult to prove than theft, there is video tape showing groups of individuals carrying small non-alcohol shaped bottles, filled presumably with petrol, which would account for the widespread number of fires.

It should therefore be possible to mount successful prosecutions for riot and arson, particularly if the concept of joint enterprise is invoked.  Let us hope that the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions, whose permission is needed for a prosecution for riot under the 1986 Public Order Act, see it this way.  Exemplary, long terms of imprisonment are needed to stop what has been an insurrection against lawful authority and private property ever happening again.

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