Saturday, December 01, 2007 

Scum-watch: Prison ship obsession rises again.

Doesn't it look just so inviting?

If the Sun were a person, its turn on and offs would be intriguing. Tits would obviously be at the very zenith of its sexual fantasies, while evil paedophiles, the scourge of modern life, would be something the person would focus their hatred on, even while secretly glancing at photographs of a 12-year-old model wearing only a bikini. Less conventionally, one of our imaginary Sun person's greatest desires, resulting in numerous rushes of blood to the head, so to speak, is for villains to be caged aboard floating fortresses. It's a continuing obsession, and one which the Scum is again cheering about today:

A PRISON ship is set to ease overcrowding in Britain’s jails in the New Year in a victory for The Sun.

The move comes as the prison population this week soared to 81,455 - leaving just NINE places in our cells.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw is in talks with the Dutch government to secure one of their floating prisons.

Officials have been sent to the Netherlands to get a high-security vessel that can hold up to 200 lags.

In actuality, a prison ship will do nothing whatsoever to ease overcrowding, especially one that can only cater for 200 "lags". As the current prison population statistics show, 177 prisoners are currently being held in police cells. Even with 200 extra places, that would mean that courts could sentence 23 extra to imprisonment on top of the expected daily churn in and out of the prison system before it would again be thoroughly overloaded. The current level of overcrowding is quite simply unsustainable, as politicians not playing to galleries more than know. None of them however have the courage to raise their head above the parapet and say openly that less people need to be sent to prison: the level of opprobrium would be far too great, despite the fact that overcrowding only makes rehabilitation even more difficult, leading to the recidivism rate increasing exponentially, to further tabloid outrage. It's a vicious circle which no politician is prepared to break, through pure cowardice. It's also worth pointing out that the Sun also breathlessly announced back at the end of September that Straw was deciding which of three vessels to chose as the new prison ship, and surprise surprise, nothing more was heard of it until up to this latest wheeze.

All of this is despite the government's early release scheme, which the Sun also covers. Despite 11,000 "crooks" being released up to 18 days early, the prison system is now currently only 9 places away from complete capacity. The Tories said that it would mean 25,000 being released early this year, while also opposing it completely, which if they had been in power and had done might well have led to even the extra police cells being filled, but being in opposition means you can get away with such disingenuous playing to the crowd. The numbers that have apparently re-offended after being released early are surprisingly low, if anything, especially considering that those released were given £45 on being freed that in some cases was expected to last a month, while some were given nothing at all.

The Sun's leader is almost orgasmic at the news that a boat has been found to stow criminals on:

SHIP, ship hooray!

The last time this combination of words was used in the Scum it was on the front page, overjoyed at the suicide of Harold Shipman. How very appropriate.

Finally, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw have found us a prison ship.

It can’t sail into harbour soon enough.

Our prisons are bursting at the seams.

Which of course has nothing to do with the Sun's demands for an end to "soft" sentences and for never ending crackdowns against yobs, gangs and almost every offence and grouping you can think of. The leader but one above this is advocating such a campaign against "underage boozing" which names everyone responsible except for parents. Overage boozing where the editor of a tabloid newspaper gets drunk and smacks her husband (now ex) is curiously not worthy of crusading against.

Rapists, killers and paedophiles have been freed early to make space.

Really? Is that why, err, the Sun's own report on the 11,000 released early only mentions 4 sex offenders who've been let out 18 days early and nothing about any murderers whatsoever? This wouldn't be another huge lie in a Sun editorial, surely not.

Now it seems a 200-cell Dutch barge is heading our way.

It’s a good start, Mr Brown.

But it’s only a start.

Well yes. If things get any worse, he'll be needing to make sure there are cells ready to take him and most of the cabinet. One already seems to have Peter Watt's name on it.

The irony of the Sun's unhinged joy at a prison ship being found is that the leader above it is on Gillian Gibbons "suffering in captivity", and few if any would disagree with that. There is no such sympathy for the mentally ill and drug addicted that will find themselves making up the population of the new prison ship. If it's anything like the old one, then the inmates can look forward to it being "unacceptably cramped and claustrophobic", with "no access to fresh air", "poor healthcare facilities" and with jobs "very limited". Still, they're all villains, aren't they?

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Saturday, September 29, 2007 

Scum-watch: Irresponsible vagueness, referendum tedium and the return of seeing no ships.

According to the Grauniad, the detectives investigating the murder of Rhys Jones are still a long way from having the evidence necessary to be able to bring charges against a suspect who has now been named 12 times by different individuals as the person caught on CCTV prior to Jones' death.

What possibly better time then for the Scum to publish a photograph of the alleged killer on its front page, even suitably masked?

THE prime suspect in the killing of Rhys Jones is said to be a tearaway “mummy’s boy”.

Twelve people identified the teenager after seeing CCTV footage on Wednesday’s BBC Crimewatch show about the shooting of Rhys, 11.

It showed a hoodie-wearing youth on a bike at the murder scene on the night Rhys was shot in Liverpool.

The suspect, pictured today for the first time, cannot be identified for legal reasons.

He is a football-mad youngster — just as Everton fan Rhys was.

But he is also said to be a gang member who makes money running drugs.

Except he, whoever he is, isn't even a suspect yet; according to the Scum article, he was one of those arrested and released on bail. Isn't this the exact same newspaper decrying the treatment of the McCanns, who have been named as official suspects, now more than happy to splash completely unverifiable information about a "suspect" in another high-profile case? Indeed, they're loving being able to have it both ways: today's article about the McCanns, also on the front page, repeats the latest "slur" by the Portuguese police about Madeleine's disappearance, then condemns them for it. The McCanns are at least able to defend themselves, having the lucky support of millionaires and a former BBC journalist acting as their spokesman; whoever this child is has no way of denying the allegations printed about him.

In actual fact, the supposed details about him are so vague as to be even more potentially discriminatory. There are no doubt dozens of kids on the two estates that fit the description of being football mad, supporting Liverpool, and possibly involved in dropping off drugs. While it's true that the community might well already know who the killer is, the Guardian reporting earlier in the week that the name has been written on walls, all this article is likely to do is increase the possibility of the perpetrator deciding that it's time to make a run for it. Perhaps again the fact that the paper is still widely loathed in Liverpool has gone into the decision to print, although if it was, the fact the article is freely available online means that anyone not wanting to hand over money to the Murdoch empire can still read it and draw their own conclusions. At best this is shaky, questionable reporting and at worst it's downright irresponsible. Not that that's ever stopped the Sun before.

Elsewhere, the campaign for a vote on the EU reform treaty rumbles tediously on:

Even Girls Aloud want to vote

SHE may be in the world’s sexiest girl band but Nicola Roberts is more concerned about Britain’s future than her nails or make up. The Girls Aloud star recently voiced her dismay at the younger generation’s disregard for politics.

Here she explains why it is crucial Britain has a referendum on Something Kinda EU.

And so for 330 mealy-mouthed, no doubt Sun hack ghosted words, Roberts informs us of how vital it is we have a vote. Either she's an avid reader of the Sun, or she shares an uncanny knack of being able to write in a style incredibly similar to that of the average Sun galley-slave:

Personally I’m against us signing up under the terms being suggested because it means we will be handing over so many powers to unelected representatives in Europe.

It will mean they could bring in new laws and dictate the way we lead our lives in Britain. That’s why I think that, if we do get a referendum, we should vote No.

How right you are Nicola, and your view is certainly not undermined by the following:

If young people today don’t know anything about the EU constitution they should go and educate themselves and find out how it could affect them because it’s important.

As perhaps you should instead of prostituting yourself to the Murdoch shilling. If Roberts is genuine about young people getting involved and informed about political issues, she's hardly a shining example by shamelessly parroting the line of the newspaper which just happens to be featuring "her" warblings, or indeed giving the impression that the Sun will educate you about anything other than tits.

Moving on, an older member of a Girls Aloud tribute band has also been sounding off, at least after consulting her psychiatrists:

LADY Thatcher last night sensationally backed The Sun’s campaign for an EU Treaty referendum.

Yes, truly sensational. Old Conservative Eurosceptic prime minister favours a referendum. Hold the front page! It's worth remembering of course that it was her stance on Europe which finally helped bring her down, and which has also helped keep her party out of power for the last 10 years. Apart from that though, really amazing.

Finally, if you wanted any further proof that Brown is either no change to Blair or is moving even further to the right, we've got yet another resurrection of an old failed policy:

FRANTIC Jack Straw has finally bowed to The Sun’s campaign to bring in a PRISON SHIP — as jail overcrowding hit an all-time high.

The Justice Minister was last night deciding which of three suitable vessels will be most cost-effective.

Just in case you need reminding, the last prison ship was sold off after if it was condemned by the head of the prison inspectorate, Anne Owers. Amongst the problems with it was that it was "unacceptably cramped and claustrophobic" and had "no access to fresh air". Despite being meant to be a training prison, "jobs for inmates were "very limited"". How these problems, inherent with ships' design will be overcome is predictably unexplained.

With the Daily Mail already successfully wooed, don't be surprised if this is the first part of the offensive to get the Sun even further on side. If Brown does call an election this coming week, it'll hardly be a huge shock if he decides to change tack and announce there will be a referendum on the EU reform treaty after all.

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