In response to the new guidelines for the Crown Prosecution service, Peter Cuthbertson was quoted in yesterday's Daily Telegraph:
It is very worrying that new reasons to avoid prosecutions are being proposed.
Crime should not be shrugged off on grounds of proportionality.This morning, Cuthbertson argued on BBC Radio Humber alongside Karl Turner MP and representatives from the CPS and local police. He said:
I think people are right to be very concerned. First of all, no offence ever feels minor to the victim and it's often so-called minor offences that do the most to ruin people's quality of life. Second, there's so much evidence that zero tolerance of less serious offences is the key to ridding an area of serious crimes. Usually by the time someone is caught they have already committed a string of offences so it's very dangerous not to take it seriously at this point.
Already the CPS takes a view that it won't proceed with cases that haven't much chance of prosecution so that's not new. I think the key line in the new guidance was that they need to consider "[t]he cost to the CPS ... where it could be regarded as excessive when weighed against any likely penalty". I think that's the point: we have extremely light penalties for so many crimes. Even those sent to prison for more serious offences only get an average of 9 months in prison. If prosecutors feel punishments are so light it's not worth taking criminals to court then it's the punishments that should be changed so that's no longer true.