« John Stevens for Mayor? | Main | Your captions please... »


I welcome DD's comments - but have concerns about his namesakes Taser proposal (touch of the Blairish headlines rather than real answers). It is wrong that criminal sentencing is driven by prison capacity rather than the crime. I strongly believe that the promise of punishment does deter crime - not just from active criminals but those attracted towards it. Too many of the statistics are about the effectiveness of rehabilition rather than deterring people from committing crime to start with.

This is not to say that we don't also support rehabilitation but deterrence is key.

Overall our message should be simple - that the continuous stream of legislation must be stemmed so the justice system can concentrate on doing its job rather than being micro-managed from the Home Office. Competence not legislation.

However a couple of simple changes should be made
- reversion to consideration for early release for good behaviour only on completion of two thirds of a sentence
- parole boards strengthened and the norm be a personal hearing (perhaps for short sentences release at discretion of the prison governor)
- judges discretion increased regarding the treatment of possible shortening of sentences for guilty pleas (so when someone is caught in act then Judge can ignore such)
- the priority of the Probation Service being the safety of the public rather than rehabilitation of the offender (so breaking conditions results in immediate return to prison)
- any crime involving violence (including threat of) against the person carrying a higher tariff.

The alarm system on my house was manufactured in Israel. The Taser suggestion reminds me of phrasing in the alarm’s manua: the system can control passive defences such as floodlights and active defences too. It never goes on to elaborate what an ‘active defence’ might be, but I’ve always been glad that they’re not justified in this country.

If the State failt to protect us, we will go DIY. It’s for that reason that the State HAS to protect us. We can not get into a situation where weapons are justified.


Agreed. Hope we never see anything like that here.T aking my nephews on holiday to Southern Africa, where I grew up, they were stunned to see warning signs up for "rifle traps", the elaborate home security devices and gun check ins at airports. I can remember being taught at 10 years old how to use small arms "just in case".

I thought David Davis came across very well on this mornings AM, and I am very pleased about this initiative, but I await with baited? breath for the 'smash and grab' of this policy by the incumbent at No.10.

Another thing Jack Straw, also this morning made a great thing about longer sentences ARE being dished out under this goverment, BUT he didn't actually specify whether it was the actual FIRST mention by the judge of the sentence that he was referring to, or the ACTUAL time spent by the criminal in prison!! More often than not a considerable difference!.

Government spin again!

Prison policy is a good idea. I cant see anyone disagreeing with that one.

I dont like the thought of anyone having a "Taser" gun behind their curtains.
Does Mr Davis intend to reduce the State's powers even more than New Labour when it comes to protecting us from crime? If so, im seriously worried for our Crime policy. If not, then their is no need for such ridiculas speculation about arming the public.

The state should protect us from crime but the police can't be everywhere. DD's idea strikes me as sensible. It isn't as controversial as gun ownership and should therefore go down well with the public. If a criminal breaks into your house he has last the right to be protected from harm.

lost the right*

The Taser proposal is more interesting than people are giving it credit for, and should be considered seriously. At the moment, the law allows householders to use "reasonable force" against burglars, but the problem is that the use of firearms is almost always disproportionate (e.g. Tony Martin) and nearly any other use of force short of firearms is highly risky, particularly for vulnerable or elderly householders who are not able to confront young and physically fit burlgars. Tasers allow a suitable compromise: they are not disproportionate in the force used, but do not place the risk on the innocent householder. Nonetheless, there should be more investigations into the fatality rate before they become freely available.

Does anyone favour us having "the right to bear arms"?

David Davies makes the case for Tasers being allowedunder license after undergoing a one day training course. I like his idea, as it legalises the situation for those who want to keep within the law. At the moment these weapons are widely available on the black market and so those of us who wish to can obtain them. Criminals often go armed with knives, or even guns. We know that if we are faced with a break-in, the police cannot protect us. The taser gives an ordinary householder a chance to defend himself and his property without risking a life-or-death struggle.

If burglars knew that many householders were armed with Tasers it would act as a strong deterrent. We have the right to defend ourselves - we need the means, though I would not like to see the public armed with lethal firearms.

I do Donal but I can't see it going down well at an election. We used to have the right to bear arms in this country with little problem but that was before the chav epidemic. The average respectable householder who owns a gun isn't the problem. What scares people is the thought of the local yobs and louts wielding one.

"Does anyone favour us having "the right to bear arms"?"

We do have that right - it's in the 1688 Bill of Rights, which has not been repealed. I support the right to bear arms as part of 'a well-regulated militia' as the US BoR puts it, rather than an absolute right.

Donal: No. Countries with the right to bear arms have gun crime statistics substantially higher than the UK. Even Canada, with a relatively limited and restrictive system, has three times as many gun deaths per head of population as here.

"but opponents claim that as many as 50 American civilians have suffered fatal heart attacks after having been 'Tasered'."

Considering how often the US police use tasers, this seems like an incredibly good safety record to me. My wife got Tasered in Knoxville (as part of an attempted mugging, not by the cops) and it didn't seem to do her any harm!

To heck with tasers. They're a half-solution, too dangerous to be considered non-lethal, too harmless to guarantee success against someone wearing thick clothes or with a strong constitution. They're also a one-shot weapon. One taser, two attackers, no chance. I personally support a full resumption of our natural and statutory right to keep and bear lethal arms for defense of self, property and others.

if you think the tories will do anything to stop violent crime, you are deluded.

tory mps are 95% in agreement with the rest of the political class and it will make almost no difference if they win.

the idea of david davis being "tough" is another bad joke.

Tasers are rather frightening, but so are guns and knives. I really do not like the fact some police here carry them, but I think they're a good alternative to using guns - as long as they don't start using them more than they would have used fire arms had they not had tasers. Sadly this has been the case in America, as with Simon's wife, and I do not want this to happen here. They are non lethal for a healthy, average person but can be dangerous for those with health problems - particularly heart conditions. I believe they are now being fitted with a recording device so each use is reviewed and can be challenged.

I believe any use of force is fine really - probably not guns - if the intruder has actually entered your house. A taser with a recording device would give us defence and allow its use to be reviewed by police and the courts afterwards. My problems are however;
1. Criminals and yobs using them
2. Children/others accidently using them
3. People losing their temper and tasering someone

I don't know how these can be avoided. Maybe have them need a code to activate, tough sentences for misuse, and training as David Davies said. It's something to look into at least.

I agree totally with the comments by DavidB. You will not reduce the climate of violence and disorder we have in this country by arming the general public.

What taxes are the Conservatives going to put up to pay for this new initiative . Yes OK scrap the ID cards scheme but as that would largely have been paid for by increased fees for passport renewals then scrapping ID cards will not automatically leave 10-15 billion free for this new proposal .

I imagine this would be capital expenditure, Mark. You'd probably be looking at a cost of c.£3 bn a year, which is not actually all that much in relatin to overall government expenditure.

Hi Sean , I agree that £3 bn a year these days is not a vast amount in relation to overall government expenditure but it still has to come from somewhere if the books are to balance .

Mark, once the tax system has been straightened a fair amount of cash wasted will be freed up. If we scrapped tax credits and simply raised the basic rate threshold we would stop the idiocy that is sending money to the government just have them send it back to you, and we'd also be helping everyone, not just the poorest sector of society.

That is fine Chris , I look forward to the detailed proposals properly costed . The trouble with the proposal is one of priorites . It is fair to say that we need more prisons but where does that come when competing with other possible priorities .

Donal asked

"Does anyone favour us having "the right to bear arms"?"

I do, but I don't think it would work politically at this time.

The high gun shot rates in America and Canada are due to gang gun fights. Don't include those figures and the rates are about the same as Switzerland, and are low.

Gun crime shootings have increased since the banning of guns.

Tony Martin is not a case of someone using a weapon to defend himself, because the lad was shot in the back. Obviously, if guns were allowed, and a householder shot a burglar as they were running away, that would be unreasonable force.

Those who believe that the State should protect us, need to remember that Tony Martin was burgled on several occasions before this. The State cannot protect us from burglars 100%, ever. A small State solution would allow householders to defend themselves and their property effectively.

We need to get away from idealistic claptrap and be practical about crime.

"You'd probably be looking at a cost of c.£3 bn a year, which is not actually all that much in relatin to overall government expenditure."

I agree. In fact, it would only cost £3bn to scrap inheritance tax completely.

Its all very well people talking about the householder being able to have a Taser for protection, but if that householder gets burgled, then obviously the Taser will be stolen (quite apart from the comment someone made in their post that these 'guns' can be bought freely on the internet), so thieves will also arm themselves with tasers!!! Then where are we??

Donal: Does anyone favour us having "the right to bear arms?"

Yes. Its not something that should be Tory policy simply from a practical political standpoint (though pledging to review the matter, and the existing bans dispassionately and without allowing the Home Office to cook up dodgy statistics should be). We should also pledge that we will not spend public money subsidising a pressure group (Gun Control Network).

We should major on self defence as an issue though - if only to atone for our part in undermining the notion down the years. The curbing of the right to self defence has never received a parliamentary vote. When Firearm and Shotgun certificates were introduced, self defence and defence of property were perfectly acceptable reasons to put on the application. Between 1945 and 1969, a series of Home Secretaries instructed the police to start denying applications for self defence. As a result the ability to own a firearm for self defence was eliminated without any debate.

"Countries with the right to bear arms have gun crime statistics substantially higher than the UK. Even Canada, with a relatively limited and restrictive system, has three times as many gun deaths per head of population as here."

Yes, more guns leads to more gun deaths - though what proportion of that is cases where another method would have been chosen in the absence of weapons is unclear - a hundred years ago the USA and UK had the same gun laws (ie none) and the US murder rate was several times higher than the UKs.

What is clear however is that murder is a very rare crime, and when you look at the more common crimes - such as burglary and mugging - you will find much lower rates in the USA. To be sure some of that is down to the USA's policy of actually putting criminals in jail for a long time, but there are some differences that can be traced to gun ownership - in the US 90% of burglaries take place when a house is empty, while in the UK only half do.

Why on earth would you agree with the "Right to Bear Arms". There are enough loons and criminals on the streets already without making it any easier for them to get hold of fire arms.
If you arm the public, youll have to arm the
Police. And before you know it, theres a gun in every building and everyone will be getting the best thus creating a street level arms race. The ghettos of the UK will turn into US ghettos, so on and so forth.

The question is would all this prevent crime... the answer is no. It actually increses the likelyhood of shootings and deaths, u just have to look at countries whom have this right and countries whom dont for that answer.

It will make the streets more dangerous, that chav accross the road could shoot me 10 - 20 foot away, if he just had a knife hed have to come right up to me, and at least I could have the chance to run away or wrestle him to the floor!!

g-man, for the sake of argument, would not a taser answer your concerns, as it has a limited range but can also be used by the homeowner from a safer distance and thus would be a better option than a knife or baseball bat etc?

So DD does a deal with the devil to avoid the Parliament Act being used (it wouldnt have made a difference how it got through...if anything making a principled stand to the death would have been more honest), and then a policy is announced that ID Cards will be abolished under a Tory Government and we will have lots of nice shiny prisons?

I love the Tory opposition to ID CArds, though really they need to flat out oppose the LLRB as well to make it a proper pledge (a Government Minister could easily make not carrying an ID Card a 2 year prisons sentence or a hefty fine-which doesnt help me as I flat out refuse to have anything to d with them and dont want a criminal record!)

I think the money would be much better spent on securing our borders and getting new police, not on building new prisons. So while I agree we dont need ID Cards, the money shouldnt go towards building new prisons, which wont be built for many years after the Tories are elected.

To all those worried that re-legalising general firearm ownership for self defence will lead to "criminals getting guns".

Breaking News - They already have them.

About 15 years ago, a family friend of ours, and a captain in the Nigerian military got car jacked by a gang of 7 or so.

He reached under the seat, grabbed his pistol and fatally shot two of them after which his body was pumped with 72 bullets by the others.

To those who say "The Criminals already have guns" I say
- but they are less likely to shoot you if they know/think you are unarmed
- guns hardly will not work if you are outnumbered or caught unawares
-Most criminals do not have guns and if you legalise guns, the ones who don't will get them.

Anyone who lives in an area like mine, with feral street urchins and thuggish looking teenagers running amok hanging around in packs will not welcome them getting access to firearms.

Andy & Chad - Its not even about the criminals having fire arms. We are all human beings and make mistakes. There are many cases in America of spouses being shot dead in rages of jelousy. Or school shootings where more than one pupil always loses their life as usually does the person who carries out the act.

But the point im making is that the indroduction of any fire arm just increases the amount of actual "made to disable" weapons such as a gun or a taser, a knife or baseball bat isnt necerssaraly in this category as they are tools used in day to day life. Once these types of weapons are more readlily avaliable of course there will be an increase in fatalities on our streets not less.

Hi G-Man,
Agreed, the brother of a schoolfriend had his face blown off and was killed playing with a shotgun when we were teenagers.

Living in the country, we're quite used to guns, and having a shotgun is fairly common. I'm still not 100% used to people getting on the train with their shotguns (in the case of course) when they are off for a weekend shoot etc but they are all respectable sorts.

I wasn't supporting the arming of the population, just for argument's sake noting that the taser presents a balance between knifes and guns.

I completely agree that increasing the access to arms will cause more problems than is solves

I can get you a lot more cells for your pound than is being quoted

A budget hotel costs about £35,000 per room to build, that's a double room with twin beds and an ensuite bathroom.

Working from the inside out you first turn the locks round, then you add a suite of classrooms, a mess hall and a gym, put it in a field with a large fence round it and you've got - a prison!

A total cost all-in should be no more than £50,000 a cell, so £5bn would provide 10,000 additional cells. Given that it takes longer to get planning consent than it does to actually build a budget hotel, the whole lot could be up by the end of year 2 in Government with the consequent 25% reduction in crime acheived by the end of a first term.

Using the rest of the money to fund a prison's education service to properly re-hab the cons makes it a seriously good investment.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker