Bulger killer's prison recall must not be used for political capital

Posted on: 08 March 2010 by Gareth Hargreaves

Jack Straw is on 'the horns of a dilemma'- the public want details of accusations against Jon Venables. Should he remain silent and safeguard the integrity of the case or give in and score points with the electorate in the run up to the May poll?

The James Bulger murder case has hit the headlines again – only this time because one of his killers has been recalled to prison while police make enquiries into ‘serious allegations’. The press are having a field day and they have brought Denise Fergus back into the public frame – whether she wanted it or not. The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw has been on the radio and all manner of others have offered their view to the media.

This whole debacle raises some serious issues that we all need to think about and come to terms with. Can a child of 10 be truly guilty of murder in the legal sense of the word?

Should a crime, no matter how bad, travel with an individual throughout life and impact on every decision you make?

Should the news of the ‘serious allegations’ have been leaked to the press? If someone is given a new identity by the state shouldn’t that be sacrosanct?

For my two’penneth I cannot accept that a child of 10 years old can be guilty of murder in the same way as an adult. Should he have been punished in the first  place – definitely, but not to the extent that we criminalise him in the process. If he has gone on to commit a crime then he should be tried in his new identity and the matter should rest there. I thought we had left the era of witch hunts! There are no winners in this case – the end result will please no one and the biggest loser of all is human justice itself!

No Respite here?

John Humphrys had a good banter with Phil Hope the Minister of State at the Department of Health over the issue of Respite Care budgets in the NHS. In 2009/10 the money ‘available’ was £50million and this year it is  £100million.

According to two care charities only 23% of the £50 million was spent on respite care – the rest went on other services. During the interview Minister Hope (such an appropriate name) led John Humphrys to believe that this was earmarked money and should have been used for the designated service.

Humphrys quickly pointed out that the sums in question were part of the much bigger NHS budgets and were at the spending discretion of the local NHS. They are on record as saying that the money is deployed locally to meet local needs and may not be spent on respite care.

Someone ought to get their story straight especially if the ‘spin merchants’ are putting about stories for news effect when in fact there is no story at all. Anyone caring for a relative or friend will know the value of respite care and they don’t need to have their expectations raised by blatant politicking. Life is hard enough for cares without this.

Come on Department of Health – sort it out or are you waiting to do it just before the General Election – perish the thought that anyone could be that devious!

If you agree or disagree with what I have said drop me a line at tony.page@anthonypage.net

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