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New sentencing guidelines

April 8th, 1997

A letter to the Daily Telegraph which was published on 8th April 1997.

The Lord Chancellor’s approval of new sentencing guidelines, in which alleged racial motivation is to be regarded as an aggravating factor, is much to be regretted (report, 4th April).

In practice this will mean that where a member of the host population is charged with an offence against a member of an ethnic minority, there will henceforth be a positive encouragement for the prosecution to allege a racial motivation.  The converse however will always be vehemently denied, even in cases like London street robbery where the numerical data points overwhelmingly to that conclusion.

No country in history has gone to such lengths as Britain has, by legislation and by administration, to smooth the path of immigrants of many different races and cultures.  The good manners and tolerance displayed in daily life are there for anyone with eyes to see.

The new sentencing guidelines will however have the practical effect of putting ethnic minorities in a privileged position in Law, whereas the only proper objective for a civic society is to remove the very word race from the administration of justice and employment.  The present continual scratching at the odd pimple on the face of race-relations, while providing employment for the race lobbies, will only inflame feelings they are supposed to allay.