Thursday, 6 August 2009

Harriet Charges In

This week is like a little taster session of what it would be like if Harriet Harman was prime minster, I would liken it to Boudica on her chariot.

A review of rape conviction rates was to be released on Monday, however Harman has sent it back to the drawing board. It's understood she wants a:
more radical overhaul of the law which could include targets for prosecutors and police to secure more convictions.
Targets though Labours answer to everything, are not the answer here, you just put pressure on the courts to find someone guilty, as reports already show it has a terrible effect on justice. Increasing the likelihood of wrongful or unsound conviction is just stupid beyond words.

A lot of rape victims don't go to the police straight away or sometimes never do, largely because most rapes are perpetrated by people they know, only a small percentage are by strangers. For juries it's more difficult to say "guilty" if it's not based on physical evidence. A lot of cases are a question of whether the victim did not consent and that is a very difficult thing to prove.

For Harman to step in like this however suggests that "radical overhaul" means something really radical. Switching so the accused has to be the one to prove that the victim consented, this would drastically increase conviction rates. Yet politicians getting involved in justice is a recipe for disaster, the effect of their involvement in law can clearly be seen in how terrorism is dealt with, like a Salem witch trial.

To change the premiss of the law i.e you are innocent until proven guilty, is a scary prospect, largely because the impact is so far reaching. As much as I want more justice for victims of rape, we can not be populist about law, it must be objective, factual and fair. Whatever this review comes up with though, there will always be a large amount of people that won't be able to prosecute, making sure there is the care available to help them is so important. As that may be the only way they can move on in their lives. Consequently more than anything, I hope Harriet's involvement doesn't push this review into an area of non practical support.

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