The Death Penalty
Following the tragic murder of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky. The former Metropolitan Police Chief, Lord Stevens, has called for a return for the death penalty in the UK.
This has been rejected by Downing Street, and even by right-winger David Davis, who has said that now is not the time to make such judgements.
Aside from the fact that this is the second time that I have surprisingly found myself agreeing with a right-wing Conservative, the problem with such comments is that they are usually made in the heat of the moment in the face of a heinous crime, and is usually an emotive statement, as opposed to a well considered one.
As you may have guessed I am against the death penalty per se (Although I am open minded on high war crimes, such as those perputrated by the Nazis), and that is for two reasons.
The first reason is, strangely enough, for the same reason I am generally pro-life (The casual stereotype being that pro-life people are pro death penalty and pro-choice are not). In that human life is sacred, and every human being has rights and dignity that should be respected, no matter how foul and objectionable we find that individual, or how difficult and objectionable the circumstances. As long as an individual has a chance to repent, we must not deny them that chance. The only time I would be open to the death penalty is where the options available are narrow, and the crimes are so sickenly awful (such as the Holocaust), that one doesn't know what else to do, realistically speaking.
The second reason is, how does one know when you have the right person! You cannot say that Timothy Evans death was regrettable but at least a principle was involved. That diminishes human dignity! And what about the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four? Had the death penalty been around in the mid-1970s, the noose would have almost certainly gone around their necks, whilst the Balcombe Street Gang (Who are belived to be actually responsible for the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings), were busy shooting Pc Tibble and Ross McWhirter, as well as blowing up resturants.I am not detracting from the crimes for which people tend to call for the death penalty. They are vicious, horrible, and those responsible should be severely punished. Like many I am disgusted and appalled by Pc Beshenivsky's murder and sincerely hope and pray that those responsible are caught, and soon. The factthat her daughter's fourth birthday took place on the day of the murder, is a situation where one cannot help but feel for someone who will likely view her birthday with ambivelence for the rest of her life.
But that said, we must not diminish our own human dignity in wanting to catch those who have little or none for their crimes.
Nor can we be 100% sure when we do have prime suspects in custody that we have the right people, and that is why I feel that Lord Stevens is wrong in making these comments, and why I feel he is being emotive, rather than reasoned.