In an age when the justice system often seems to let down victims by handing out lenient sentences for serious crimes, it has been encouraging to see the hard-line approach in many of the punishments given to those involved in last week’s rioting.
David Cameron promised that tough measures would be available to the courts and, despite some early criticism of leniency, there has clearly been a message sent out with the amount of custodial sentences issued.
So strong has that message been, in fact, that the most recent criticism relates to whether punishments are too severe. But while the individual offences may seem relatively minor, they have been looked at and judged within an overall context of what was happening on the streets generally.
Each individual may argue that their part was minor, but collectively it added up to scenes of violence and disorder on a scale not seen in England since the 1980’s. Whatever the level of one person’s involvement may have been, the fact remains that they contributed to a serious level of disorder. That is the context in which their crimes must be looked at, and judged.
A strong response from the police and the courts was required. Fortunately, for the sake of deterring others from engaging in mindless acts of vandalism or theft in the future, a strong response is what has been delivered.