Last month I wrote that the very notion of justice in Britain was under threat. This week we have found what we have been relying on to keep us safe is rotten. This was not the topic I had hoped to return with after Christmas, I had foolishly thought the Archbishop of Canterbury would have made a quiet apology for the way he handled the George Bell #Case. Nothing has come from the Church of England's cold, grey bureaucracy, an institution which is overseeing the final death throes of Anglicanism in England, to even suggest that it has learnt a lesson. Instead, it has been revealed that we can not expect the #Criminal Justice System to protect us.

2017 saw Hollywood rocked by allegations of sexual abuse, the #MeToo movement spread like wildfire as women in their droves took to social media to call out their abusers, and powerful men were brought low because they took advantage over many years. Some cases were much less clear-cut. I think of Westminster, where the only cases that have been made public are about hands on knees and the concerning abuse of power by former policemen. This, I suspect, is not the last that we shall hear of this sordid affair but, in this era when the news moves on so quickly, several more terrifying cases have come to the fore.

Justice? What justice?

It is an odd word, justice. Everyone talks about it as though they cherish it above all else. Flashy politicians, senior police officers and, that oddity of the last decade, Police and Crime Commissioners have long insisted crime figures are falling.

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I wonder how many people actually believe them now. Those of us who have seen the response of the police to so-called "petty" crimes (which are not petty when it is you who is the victim) know that it is an unfunny joke. In the time it takes to get anything resembling a response, victims are long past the point of expecting the perpetrator to be caught and punished.

Today (7 January 2018), Peter Hitchens pointed out in his Mail on Sunday column that :

"some crimes- in which people die or are seriously hurt- cannot be magicked out of existence in this way.

London saw four fatal stabbings on New Year's Eve, taking the total of such knifings in the capital to 80 for the whole of 2017.

"And the use of knives, in general,l is now a serious problem all over the country. In June 2017, the Office for #National Statistics listed thousands of 'blade offences' in the previous 12 months, including 214 killings, 391 attempted murders, 438 rapes, 182 other sexual assaults, and 14,429 robberies."

He went on to quote further figures that are frankly mortifying but raised the important point that if we still had the medical knowledge of 1965, when the death penalty was abolished, the figure for killings would be significantly higher.

Worboys and Johnson

John Worboys is a convicted rapist. He raped not one woman, as wicked and sick as that is, but several. Around 100 allegations were made but he was convicted on 19 of them, with eight women being told their cases would not be pressed as there was insufficient evidence to gain a conviction. They could take some scant comfort in the knowledge that he was given an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection (with a minimum of eight years), in other words, this was to be until he was deemed to no longer pose a threat to women. Now, eight years into his sentence, he is to be freed. The Parole Board is "confident" that he will not re-offend and have imposed "stringent" licence conditions, including reporting to a parole officer each week.

His victims, some of whom were not informed until they saw it on the news, are expected to accept the fact that this monster will be back on our streets. This, however, is not uncommon now. Most, if not all, of us, have heard it said that sentences are light and criminals can be sure to serve half of their sentences at best. The official sentence allows the courts to feel as though they are still powerful and doing their jobs, the early release gets them out of the prisons which are not the austere centres of punishment and reform intended to deter crime but the place that hardened criminals, whom the courts can no longer pretend are only "petty", are sent to vegetate.

Further proof is in the case of triple murderer Theodore Johnson. Here is a man who killed his wife in 1981 by hitting her with a vase and pushing her off a balcony after, he claimed, she had provoked him (although we can never know her version of events). So he went to prison for three years for manslaughter. He then strangled his partner with a belt in 1992 and, after a failed suicide attempt, was diagnosed with a "depressive illness" requiring his permanent detainment in a secure hospital. Four years later, he was out again. At this point, you should be able to see a sickening pattern emerging. In 2016, he hit his partner, who he met while on unescorted leave from the hospital, with a claw hammer and strangled her with a dressing gown cord. Again he failed to commit suicide, this time by jumping in front of a train. The Judge's words fail to properly summarise the horror of this case, it was, he said, "an unimaginably terrible death." I suspect that even now, wheelchair-bound, that he is still as dangerous but we are told that he will spend 26 years (he is now 60) in prison.

The law in our own hands?

It annoys me to hear the police say that we should not take the law into our hands, as though the law does not belong to us and is given to them by us to ensure it is upheld. The police, despite appearances to the contrary, was never intended to be a paramilitary force as they have in other countries, Peel never intended for Britain to be subjected to a continental gendarmerie but to be not just like us but to actually be one of us. Police uniforms were designed to look a little like army uniform as possible, hence the deep blue with the silly helmets which not look remarkably smart in comparison to the caps. The reason for this can be found in our peculiar history, the product of which has been English liberty and common law. We could do what we liked unless the law, made by our free sovereign Parliament, said otherwise. Everywhere else had to make do with being given permission to do things by the law. Britons used to be proud of this and it truly was the envy of the world.

Now, the police are armed with guns and truncheons, they rarely walk around the streets and you would be lucky to recognise them as they zoom past in their cars. The beat policeman has gone now, it did not matter that he was effective or that people felt safe. No, what we needed was a distant police force, obsessed with "institutional racism" and turning up to Gay Pride in high heels, with painted nails and in a specially decorated car. This isn't the fault of the individual officer, the few I have come into contact with are decent, brave and devoted to their work. The fault lies higher up, with the faceless bureaucrats and weak-willed politicians. It lies with people more interested in appearing to be sufficiently diverse than catching criminals. It lies with courts that do not realise that we, the ordinary people, do take crime seriously and we do want it to be properly punished. I am afraid to say that we are waking up to the horrid truth that, unless somebody in power acts, we are on our own.