Saturday, 13 August 2011


The authority announced on Friday that the first eviction notice had been served – to the mother of an 18-year-old boy accused of violent disorder and attempted theft. (Guardian; Saturday 13 August 2011)

The shameful idea of punishing families for crimes committed by family members has been applied occasionally throughout history. However, the idea is so absurd and so unjust that until recently, it had been codified in law in only one place and in one era: Nazi Germany at the end of WW2, in the form of Sippenhaft ("kin liability"). Now, thanks to Tory maniacs trying to use the riots for political gain, there is a second example.

Anyone with a shred of decency should be deeply ashamed to see this country sliding back to the England described by Charles Dickens, when one could receive capital punishment for stealing a loaf of bread.

"But excessively harsh punishment means that no one will commit crimes anymore." No, it doesn't. It didn't in the 19th century and it won't in the 21st.

I feel truly sorry for everyone whose property has been damaged in the riots of the past days. But if a young man without prior convictions is put in jail for 6 months for stealing a bottle of water from a looted shop, I am beginning to find it morally objectionable to help the police identify rioters.