Thursday, 29 April 2010

Joint Enterprise...

Afua Hirsch lays into the legal principle of ‘joint enterprise’ in CiF, following an (entirely predictable) upswing in teenage knife killings in the capital and elsewhere:
Officers in the Metropolitan police had thought 2010 was turning out to be a relatively good year for gun and knife crime. Last year, overall gun crime doubled in London despite falling across the country, so the relative paucity of "gang violence" headlines, it was hoped, was a sign of change.

Those hopes now seem to have been dashed. At the end of March, schoolboy Sofyen Belamouadden was stabbed to death in front of hundreds of commuters at Victoria tube station. A spate of incidents in the capital have been reported since then.
And this has led to much handwringing...
These tragedies are inevitably followed by a debate about youth violence, the social causes and the political consequences. But in communities where the problem is more permanent, a division is emerging. On one hand there are the victims – in each case a child murdered and others traumatised. On the other there are those charged with the offence and parents struggling to comprehend life sentences for their children.
Ah. I think what Afua means is there are two sorts of victims here...
This division is playing out along the unlikely lines of a centuries-old principle of English law. The rule of "joint enterprise" has become a symbol of the way in which the criminal justice system is dealing with young offenders. Some see it as a powerful tool; to others, it is a cause of injustice.
Afua’s a Guardian gal. You can pretty much guess which side of the line she comes down on, can’t you?
Teenagers are being convicted of offences they watched happen but did not participate in.
Other than being there, knowing about it, doing nothing to stop it, failing to come clean to the police, that is...
In one of the most controversial recent cases, Wigan father Garry Newlove was murdered by a group of youths he confronted outside his home. One of the boys convicted of his death – then 16-year-old Jordan Cunliffe – was not alleged to have dealt the blows. Instead Cunliffe, who is partially blind, was convicted on the basis that he was there, and did nothing to prevent the attack.
The families of victims often say that all those involved in the killing of a loved one – be it actively or through failure to try to prevent an attack – are equally deserving of punishment. But beneath the emotive facts of these tragic cases some objective factors are emerging.
Such as..?
Professionals on both sides of the criminal justice system agree that joint enterprise can encourage lazy prosecuting. Prosecutors can charge the whole group and leave the court to allocate individual culpability.
Well, what are you worried about then, Afua? Surely the great British public is like you? Happy to coddle criminals and gang members? No..?
The police claim that the ability to charge multiple defendants through joint enterprise is a strong deterrent. The message they hope to send is that being associated with a violent crowd and involved, even marginally, in a foreseeable attack that leads to a death could result in a murder conviction.
It used to work. Gang members, we are told, would frisk each other to ensure that no-one carried a weapon. Or they'd all hang...
Since Sofyen Belamouadden's death, the London borough of Hackney alone has seen two more incidents, with aspiring 17-year old footballer Godwin Nii Lawson stabbed to death, and 16-year-old Agnes Sina-Inakoju shot through the window of a fast-food shop. There is little to suggest that the teenagers now serving life sentences are in the minds of the young people who continue to take part in violent attacks.
Maybe, Afua, that’s because there hasn’t yet been enough of them..?


Dr Evil said...

If the little bastards were hanged (not minors of course, they never were hanged as far as I know) it might deter their peers a bit more than a few years in the university of crime.

English Viking said...

Can I hear an elephant, trumpeting, somewhere in the room?

One appears to need a degree in sub-Saharan languages to properly understand this post.

If we allow our cities to be over-run with people who are accustomed to settling arguments with machetes and/or AK 47's, we should not be surprised if they continue to weave their rich tapestry of multi-cultural bliss, particularly if you 'diss' one of them. Innit?

Jeff Wood said...

In Scotland, if I remember correctly an ancient law course, it is called "Art and Part", and it is an essential crime-fighting weapon.

Get rid of Joint Enterprise, and when half a dozen goblins kick a man to death there can never be a murder charge, because who knows which one swung the fatal kick?

Of course Chalcedon and English Viking are both spot on.

Jiks said...

Ah the poor innocent murderer, whose only crime is murder, how could we be so cruel as to take away their liberty?

Some left wing positions on some things I can almost understand but why they always seem to insist on treating the perpetrators as the victims I can never get my head round...

Anonymous said...

We used to hang kids Chalcedon, with judges casting all kinds of rot out about their evil 9 year old souls.
There's a lot of joint venture going on round here, including a killing last week over Face Book insults.
Now the killer's family's house is boarded up and they have had to move (probably no loss).

Trevor said...

Yet another race-baiting libtard - where do they find them all?

JuliaM said...

"Can I hear an elephant, trumpeting, somewhere in the room?"

It's entirely possible. Loxodonta africana or Elephas maxima..?


" is an essential crime-fighting weapon."

Indeed. I suspect its efficacy is what rankles with the Afuas of this world...

"Some left wing positions on some things I can almost understand but why they always seem to insist on treating the perpetrators as the victims I can never get my head round..."

It's as if they have no moral compass, isn't it?

David Gillies said...

Christ, Julia, I legged it out of the UK as soon as I could after that grinning shyster Blair took power.

I knew he was a wrong'un: little did I know he'd left the gate unbarred against the horde of Gramscian demons trailing in his wake. Chief among them, of course, Brown, the cacodaemon, that shits on anything worthy, but followed closely by Milibands plural, Balls be they Ed or Yvette, Harperson (!), the Badger, the Most High-Exalted, the Most-Sulphurous, the Most-Mephitic Lord Mandelstink of Corruption.

Seriously, Julia, I've got a spare room. You can kip there while you're looking for a job.

Anonymous said...

But in communities where the problem is more permanent, a division is emerging.

I believe biologists use the terms prey and predator.