Off the net
May I suggest they are in cells with no electricity, might give a further disincentive to cable magpies?
Two men have been jailed for 16 months for nicking large volumes of copper cable from BT's network. The pair posed as workmen to swipe the metal, cutting off telephone and internet connections to hundreds of homes and businesses. Daryl Carslake, 30, and Gavin Marriott, 28, both of Epsom, Surrey, were sentenced at Southwark …
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Actually, I think their cell should be supplied with PLENTY of electricity, with their bunk being connected to the mains live conductor, and a copper sheet covering the floor, connected to ground. BZZZT!
Barring that, then administer daily a 50,000 volt taser zap to the nuts. BZZZT!
On the other hand, hang them from an 11kV line, and wait for one of them to "walk" toward the insulator, in an attempt to get down to the ground. BZZZT!
One of those choices will get the point across.
Hey elReg, where is the BOFH icon????
16 months? after about 8 they will walk. Totally ridiculous given the huge financial impact this can have on businesses.
Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10.
If they hacked a computer and caused the same amount of damage they would be looking at many years of bird.
Not to mention fraud and deception, as they fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen.
Why should "the huge financial impact this can have on businesses" be the determining factor when considering a sentence? Businesses make continuity plans to cope with unexpected situations like this...
How about the fact that hundreds of homes were left without telephone services, some of whom are likely to be elderly or infirm and may depend on their phone line in order to call 999?
"are likely to be elderly or infirm and may ..."
And yet none of them died due to the theft. We can't sentence people based on 'perhaps' scenarios, can we?
Otherwise we could have court session where the prosecutor argues for 5 years for petty offence because of what *might* occur in the wake of it. I don't want to live in a society where common thieves are punished for the hypothetical rather than the actual. It wastes court time and makes a mockery of sentencing guidelines and the wider judicial system.
Ultimately, you've got to sentence based on the real outcome of crimes, rather than whatever worse-case-heart-wrenching piece of propaganda the media or prosecution can dream up. And additionally it needs to be within the framework of other sentencing. Stealing a bunch of cable is a wanky thing to do that in my world deserves a kick in the balls from every person inconvenienced by the theft (everyone lines up, delivers a kick to the happy sacks over a period of several weeks during which time the guys are in the slammer, and then they can wear a ankle-bracelet and clean up dog poo for a few hundred hours under curfew. Job done), but it's not worse than pretty much any violent crime, and shouldn't be penalised more than violent crime.
We can and do sentence people on perhaps scenarios - attempted [X], dangerous driving, negligence, and espionage to name but a few.
The actual outcome is doubtless of prime importance, but to totally ignore the subjunctive is equally as silly. It's the courts' job to weigh up which risk scenarios were unacceptably brought into play and they are usually quite good at that. I'd be very worried if someone was sentenced for disturbing a butterfly on the basis that it could cause adverse weather elsewhere in the world, but I'd be absolutely disgusted if someone cut the power to a hospital and got off scot free because, by some miracle, no-one died in the time before the emergency supply kicked in.
"Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10."
It's light, but 5-10 is patiently absurd. That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.
"fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen."
And how is that worse than kicking in someone's door with a baseball bat in hand?
I'm all for suitable punishment, but the moment that you make the punishments for non-violent theft worse than those for violent crime you send a message that it's better for criminals to resort to violence and the entire punishment system fails as any kind of deterrent to violence.
That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.
And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims.
At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely.
Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe. What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right.
And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society.
"And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims."
It's only arguable if you're a bean-counter. There is no doubt in my mind that murder and rape are far more serious crimes than making a few grand and hurrying along someone's fibre upgrade.
"At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely."
No it wouldn't. There are no such things as capital crimes within the EU. Thankfully.
"Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe."
Yeah... and who do you believe? Those people who say "hacker cost us £500,000!!!" or "flu outbreak cost economy £50 billion". We all know those figures are grossly inflated. And it's simply unethical to lock someone up based on creative accounting after the fact.
"What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right."
Is ten years of someone's life worth a million quid? Really?
Although you'd get more. Because our criminal system is ultimately a legacy of rich people. So large-scale thefts are actually punished heavily. Rob the wrong safe of a million and you get 20 years. Fiddle a million in fraud though and you'll get a couple.
"And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society."
Um. No. It doesn't work like that. By all means create a new crime like "buggering up our infrastructure" and set harsh penalties, but trying to caveat existing theft laws legally is a bad course of action that undermines and complicates further sentencing guidelines.
"Is ten years of someone's life worth a million quid? Really?"
Based on an average salary of £26.5k. Allowing for £500 a year increase for inflation, its probably a little high, but close enough.
No, it's not worth a million quid, they'd need just under 40 years for that
"No, it's not worth a million quid, they'd need just under 40 years for that"
Except that money is worth less than human life, morally.
Hell: Money isn't even a thing that physically exists in any real sense any more. Some numbers of a spreadsheet aren't worth more than a human life. When a Wall Street dealer loses 5 million for an investment bank in a day of trading, it's not as bad as putting 5 people up against a wall and putting bullets in their faces.
"It's light, but 5-10 is patiently absurd. That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter."
Let's see... interfering with the 999 services, for starters.
The penalties need to be set so high that wannabe cable nickers will think twice about it - and that includes coming down like a nuclear weapon on the yards which handle stolen goods.
regarding "16 months? after about 8 they will walk. Totally ridiculous given the huge financial impact this can have on businesses. Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10. If they hacked a computer and caused the same amount of damage they would be looking at many years of bird. Not to mention fraud and deception, as they fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen. "
I completely agree .
Thinking on people who have hacked systems , for their own selfish gain , what can we do with Bankers who hijack and hack the international finance system ? often only just within the permitted laws. They cause countless losses to many people.
sorry for going off topic, and hijacking this forum ( for my own political point ) !!
That would make the most sense*. I don't think there is much resale value in fibre. Unfortunately it probably won't stop the scrotes from taking it anyway and then look uncomprehendingly as the bent scrap metal dealer explains to them why he won't be buying the 500m of cable from them.
* does BT do sense?
The problem with replacing it with fibre is, iirc, the pstn service is still provided over the copper, the fibre is only providing the vdsl service. So you'd need to replace with fibre, plus adding all the equipment to handle the phones at the same time, which would take a lot longer then just replacing the cable.
I believe those are called "batteries" and a couple of them used to be deployed in every subscriber's house about 70 years ago. Everyeady No6 cells would last about 20 years.
When microphone power started being supplied from the exchange, it was called "Central Battery" operations and telephone circuit diagrams contained details of wiring for local or central battery right up to the days that the BT type 100 and its derivatives went out of production in the mid 1970s.
When I were a nipper (in the late 70s), we lived in a rural environment with party lines, hand cranked phones, human operators connecting every call and local batteries. The last of those didn't entirely disappear until the late 1980s
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>Over here, Germany, they are moving to VOIP over DSL as the standard connection, unless the customer specifically asks for an analogue or ISDN connection.
This also done here in Denmark. It is expensive to get normal telephone line connected. Other then that everything is now done with VoIP over ADSL, fiber or television cable service.
I solved this issue. I don't have any normal home telephone for this reason. I just have mobile phone instead. That is good enough for me.
"The problem with replacing it with fibre is, iirc, the pstn service is still provided over the copper "
Well no, the idea is that you have VoIP but over a managed network not the public internet. If you want to use legacy hardware you can have an interface in the premeses. The real problem is that it relies on having a power supply in the premeses, whereas copper powers your phone from the exchange allowing you to make emergency calls during a power cut. With most people now owning mobile phones that's less of a problem than it used to be.
Apart from the couple of seconds DHCP lease renewal, I haven't experienced any downtime yet.
As to powercuts, yes, that would be a problem but we had ISDN before and the PABX needed power as well, so no change there, and we haven't had a powercut since we moved in 3 years ago.
ISDN has been the standard here for years, for domestic use. Of the people I know, probably 80% used ISDN at home. At one point, if you wanted DSL, you had to have ISDN. That changed and you could also have it on an analogue line.
Now you just get DSL and no voice and a VOIP account from the provider.
Shouldn't be a problem with FTTC though. Run *something* for the power to said cabinet and you still have powered copper going into each property. It's not as though you're not already running new cables at the time...
Heck, you could even use copper for just the power, it would still be a fraction of the original amount.
With most people now owning mobile phones that's less of a problem than it used to be.
Like saying "now we have compulsary crash helmets motorcycle deaths are not what they used to be"
ever tried finding your mobile in a hurry when your house is on fire and your kids trapped?
your landline phone is still in the same place
cabinet-based concentrators have been around for decades. Copper in one side, fibre out the other. It means subscriber loops in the countryside are only a couple of km long instead of possibly 15-20
There's nothing stopping BT deploying these in their cabinets already. A number of telecom manufacturers (incluing huawei) make DSLAM+Voice kit (30 line devices were about the size of a VHS cassette 6 years ago, probably the same size now, but capable of handling 200+ lines)
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It seems like common sense but it's probably not.
I assume the thieves nicked a length of cable between joint boxes. It's 'quite hard' to splice a fibre into the middle of two sections of cable with hundreds or thousands of pairs of wires in it. You'd have to rip out all the copper on either side as well. Once you've done that, what do you terminate it on? I doubt their techs carry fully equipped fibre cabinets in the back of their vans, just in case, so that would be a problem.
To get people back in service quickly you'd have to replace like with like - else those people are out of action for weeks - maybe longer if the new cabinet needs planning permission and mains power provision.
Just shows the quality of the police force.
We had a corner shop robbed near me, police officer had no idea what road he was on (it's one of the main roads in town) no idea what the adjoining roads were called, didn't know there was an alleyway behind the store (which his car was parked next to)
I swear they must hire a large portion of the force from the special needs departments of schools.
>> police officer had no idea what road he was on <<
Many years ago, the policeman would have a beat and would probably only be responsible for a very small area. These days, they cover an enormous patch; talking to one copper a few years ago on a Sunday, there was just him and two other plods to cover 100 sq miles - population approx. 0.7 million people
They have a shitty job and very little thanks for doing it.
> "Just shows the quality of the police force"
Is it a question of quality?
I view the police force as an experiment that has failed. For example, there has been an abject failure to prevent the ownership of unlicensed firearms. Our police patently do not stop most crime and there's no evidence that there would be more crime if there were no police.
Instead of tinkering with 'police reform', our rulers could introduce competing institutions to control crime and further institutions to assess their results.
If you read Inspector Gadgets police blog (written by a serving police inspector) you will eventually come to the conculsion that the police are doing their job keep catching the criminals, they keep dragging them in front of the court.
The problem is that the criminals don't receive a punishment that puts them off reoffending.
Gadget blames the CPS (Criminal Protection Service or Couldn't Prosecute Satan!) and the courts. However, looking at the courts they have "sentencing guidelines" imposed from the politicians, who also set "targets" which police officers can be sacked if they don't meet.
Who is ultimately responsible for the current state of affairs? I don't think it's the police or the courts, I think it's the politicians.
The competence of the police wasn't really tested in this case due to the fact that these muppets actually went back to the scene of the crime the next day to try and steal more stuff, although you might argue they were just playing the odds, what with it being a one in a million shot that BT engineers would actually be on site the next day.
Cost per prisoner £41,000. 2 prisoners x 10 years = £820,000
Haven't really thought that through, have you?
A 3 year 7pm - 7am curfew and long term (5 year) community service sentence would be a better option. They can't go out robbing at night and have to organise their lives round a 4 day week for the next 5 years while working to put something back into the community.
Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example.
>>Cost per prisoner £41,000. 2 prisoners x 10 years = £820,000<<
Any idea what the cost was to all the people that lost their connections? ( I haven't, but when we lost connections due to a fire in the ground damaging cables, the loss of business over 3 days was about £100,000 for the one company)
>>A 3 year 7pm - 7am curfew and long term (5 year) community service sentence would be a better option.<<
Assuming that they would actually abide by the terms of the service order. Based upon how effective these things normally are, it probably won't stop them for more than the time it takes them to realise that they have no milk / beer / curry / fags etc. Once they see that there is no penalty, they'll be straight back to nicking copper cable.
>>Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example.<<
That I could definitely support; let the buggers out for parts of the day and earn their keep for a change.
"Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example."
No, that's low value. Far better to have a Prison Service Labour Corps that does navvy work. Give cons the choice of 23 hours in a cell with a bucket, or "volunteering", and make them dig the trenches and lay the ducts for fibre.
Seriously - these twats caused millions of pounds of disruption and they get a slap on the wrist.
I know it's expensive to keep 'em in jail but there needs to be long sentences to deter wanton destruction of critical infrastructure. The threat of 10-15 years banged up is the kind of thing which puts 'em off.
As for your idealistic views: I live near Epsom and we (neighbours and myself) had to deal with a persistent offender from Epsom who repeatedly breached bail and his curfew. The police end up doing FUCK ALL about it - and when they did finally arrest him (several times), he didn't get any punishment for bail or curfew breaches (merely a warning from the bench which he ignored)
Ditto on his community service which he refused to do - and got away with not doing.
In the end he finally killed someone and got put away for that, which ended a couple of years of hell for everyone in the nearby area.
"In the end he finally killed someone and got put away for that, which ended a couple of years of hell for everyone in the nearby area."
Sadly, the pi$$-taking of the criminal classes does only end when they cross a line and finally get sent down properly. It's mainly a problem with the legal system though. Fair trails for all give an advantage to the professional criminals who know how to work the system. It's really not fair to repeatedly blame the police and the CPS and magistrates when the actual problem is the professional criminal underclasses.
As to 'the cost of crime' I think we've all seen enough "hacker causes £20,00000000000 of damages" headlines to know that these are inflated to whatever people want them to be, and are generally a bunch of shit. I don't really think we should be able to take away ten years of someone's life based on a back of fag-packet worst-case bit of maths.
Alas it is often not the fault of the Police despite appearances. In my younger days I was a Special Constable and it was very disheartening to be involved in watching out for specific people known to be 'out and about' despite curfews etc and then watch them taken to court for repeated breaches of bail only for the magistrate to give them bail again!!!
How long would YOU bang your head against that wall before your determination to bang up all the scrotes started to slide?
For some criminals, especially the violent ones, you are right. Some aren't deterred. Their crime doesn't make any economic sense in the first place. But I'm fairly sure that most of those who steal for a living consider their personal risk-reward ratio. Upside: ££££. Downside: self-assessed cost of punishment times chance of being caught. Commit crime if upside > downside. Especially so for those whose crime is planned rather than impulsive.
Crimes against infrastructure cost society a large multiple of the gain to the criminal, and the sentence should therefore be disproportionately heavy. The criminals won't suddenly go straight. But they will go back to the sort of crime where the gain to the criminal approximately equals the loss to the victim or his insurer. In other words they'd stop nicking cable, and go back to nicking cars or breaking into banks, and society at large would be better-off.
These chaps had a van and a winch - so it's likely that they have been ripping out a lot more copper than just these couple of incidents ... and they must have been able to get rid of the copper to someone too ...
but of course, tracking those down would take actual leg work from the police who are all busy on twitter at the moment.
And selling all that copper (assuming you can remove it economically) might just about pay for all the kit and engineering time required to give the third of the population who don't want broadband or Internet access a simple telephone service that works over fibre - bearing in mind the stuff out there now already works perfectly well for those people.
That just leaves the problem of all the other telcos and ISPs who are selling services to people over that BT copper. If they don't have an equivalent fibre product or the customer doesn't want to upgrade, does BT just tell TalkTalk and Sky and Virgin customers, 'Sorry, we're cutting you off now?"
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option maybe to encase all the cables with an metal covering that carries 11Kv.
That way we wont have to bother with locking up the gits who steal cable for a living.
Still , we did have some fun with the metal theives by putting a thin layer of brass chips on the barrels of steel scrap chips we kept outside the factory... those barrels went pretty quick .
Ps we keep all the scrap inside now
"Police computer checks against the van linked it to the theft three weeks earlier in Teddington, allowing cops in London to file a second set of charges."
So, couldn't be bothered to trace the reg number of the van and prevent future crime by arresting the pair that were reported at the previous crime scene, but they only filed charges when they had the perps already so they could garner a good set of crime detection stats. As for the crims using a real plate on their van used in mulipple heists, it doesn't show much for either parties intelligence.
>> trace the reg number of the van <<
Assuming that the address is actually valid
A while ago, the DVLA admitted that they don't have the correct details for about 1 vehicle in 10 - that's over 3 million of them out there.
"A while ago, the DVLA admitted that they don't have the correct details for about 1 vehicle in 10 - that's over 3 million of them out there."
DVLA are useless. I unintentionally ran a car all of last year with no MOT. Used daily, drove repeatedly past the various ACPO cameras, past many, many ANPR equipped police cars. Even went to meetings with the police driving it. Do you think we had one call, letter, reminder, or anything, from DVLA, police or anybody? It only came to light because the tax was becoming due, which happens to be a couple of days after the MOT (so taxed last year on an MOT with three days to go).
If they can't even enforce the basic mechanical safety check then what's the chance of them doing any other piece of motoring administration correctly?
Burning the insulation off is the easiest way of getting caught.
If you want clean copper (best price) you need to use a machine to remove the insulation.
Commercial cable strippers are also available.
I've long wondered why the media always insists on reporting the value of drugs seized - "What? A million quid for a few kilos? What proportion gets through? Hmm, so long as I don't traffic somewhere that has the death penalty..."
This is exactly the opposite - even at vastly inflated metal prices, the amount of effort involved hardly seems commensurate to get a few grand at scrap and the risk of a year or so banged up.
The media generally keep banging on about how copper is hitting record prices per tonne. Instead, they should be pointing out that just 1 tonne is a hell of a lot of copper wire, even at whatever wire gauge BT use.
I wouldn't be surprised / I have some idea / I overdid a rhetorical flourish.
I'll admit to ignorance of the thickness of copper in the wires involved - @2cm diameter a tonne will be around 400m of wire, which I'd imagine would take up about 1/2 m^3 in volume allowing for insulation and imperfect packing (were it a pure copper ingot it would be approx 0.1 m^3), and a few reels like that is going to start buggering the suspension in the vehicle you use.
It's not as though you can repeat this too often in a given area, and you're sometimes going to yield fibre rather than your planned copper haul, so the risk/effort/reward ratios look way out to me. [Unless you come up with a way of being paid to replace the cable you've just nicked.., ideally with the same cable]
"I'll admit to ignorance of the thickness of copper in the wires involved"
Yet claim superior knowledge of the cost/benefit analysis of nicking copper cable which is rife, globally, and very very profitable?
Even common criminals know more about the subject than you do yet here you are, posting miscalculated bollocks about it on a web forum, along with with your 'workings out' ... LOL .. some people have no shame and less of a clue.
This stuff wouldn't be worth stealing without dishonest scrap metal dealers to sell it to. Why isn't there a regulation and licensing scheme? Or, if there is one, why doesn't it work?
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot scrap that's probably stolen: copper cable, sheet lead and copper off roofs, manhole covers.
"This stuff wouldn't be worth stealing without dishonest scrap metal dealers to sell it to. Why isn't there a regulation and licensing scheme? Or, if there is one, why doesn't it work?"
They're trying to regulate, but unsurprisingly the industry is resisting. And when I say 'industry' I mean of course 'scrap metal merchants who have always dealt in used banknotes and the grey economy'. It's like trying to get Crack Converters to check stuff isn't nicked: It essentially destroys their business, because much of their business is with crims.
Try the Al Capone solution, they couldn't get him for the crimes, but they did get him for the tax frauds associated with them. Any scrappie who can't produce documentation for all the copper on the premises gets a tax bill assuming he paid nothing for it, i.e. his whole sale price is treated as profit. Let's see them keep a buisness going that way.
"such as from legitimate building or renovation works. "
That's typically grey market as well! It's a well-know little scam in the building trade to take all to good bits to the scrappy for a few used fivers. The whole business is utterly dodgy. I've never known an honest scrappy. Or indeed one who could be described in any way more flattering than 'pikey'.
I took a couple of old dead car batteries to my local scrappy the other week, rather than giving them to the local council, and they insisted on taking my name, address and car registration number. They then took my bank details as they could only pay by BACS.
The money was in my account before I got home.
An unscrupulous dealer would have difficulty (I presume), shifting any quantity of untraceable metals.
Assuming, of course, that any official checks are ever carried out without a complaint being made...
As an aside, a pre-1990 domestic copper hot water cylinder is now worth more as scrap than it cost new...
It's not that profitable. Unstripped, they'd be lucky to touch £1.00 a kilo with no questions asked. Maybe £3:50-4.25 if it's properly stripped. Putting a mug between themselves and the buyer would cut their share down to about 75p a kilo unstripped, or £3 stripped.
Once you add in the transport and logistics, these two guys were not exactly getting rich quick.. If they weren't stripping the cable, they'd be working for peanuts. If they were stripping it, they'd each be touching around 700 a week tax free for about 50 hours work. (allegedly). Barely worth the risk, unless you're on the bottom rung of the modern economy. I'll bet the old bill also confiscated the van, winch, and any other kit they could link to the thefts.
There is one - the regs were recently tightened up - and all it has really achieved is creating more administration for the metal business and an inconvenience of having to faff around with cheques as cash payments are no longer permitted.
The bent dealers will still operate the black market as none of this stuff ever went through the books anyhow. Just another example of legislation from a bunch of muppets who have no grasp on real life for ordinary people.
The van was most likely running under faked registration details either a non existent owner or cloned with another vehicle or on stolen number plates. Do people really not know about this stuff despite the exposure in the media of the different ways thieves operate?
Shame they didn't rip out the crap copper that has been flapping my line for the 11 years I have been on broadband. That way I might get a decent pair that will allow my "always on" service to be *always on* instead of having a sync that resembles a bouncing ball..... and no it isn't an issue in the flat - every elecrical gizmo and gadget in the premises has changed in that time... most of my neighbours have changed due to short-hold tenancies (this development is popular amongst the buy to let boys) so no issues with something that her next door has - and now one else around here has this issue.. IT IS THE <&@£ LINE!!!!!!!!!!!
As for masquerading as BT engineers, the same charge could be levelled against the muppets that keep closing jobs on my unstable 3 km line as no fault when the ISPs radius and my router logs clearly show the line dropping far more often than it should, Including the guy who improved the below FTL fault raised by my last ISP then authorized an SFI charge on a fault that wast in my premises or equipment.
The idea of a police force is that a relatively small number of enforcement officers are able to control the behaviour of tens of their number of joe public.
The "police" idea can only work whilst joe public is willing to help and unfortunately after 4 decades of promoted greed, corruption and apathy at all levels of society, the result is the UK you see around you, don't pass the book because we all stood by and allowed it to happen.
If you want the police idea to work then you have to report every offender and make certain that the crime is punished rather than just saying "it isnt my job" then bitching about police effectiveness.
The police can only be a deterent whilst criminals feel there is a good chance that they will get caught and the resulting penalty is both obvious and frightening enough. So with the uniformed police numbers decreasing and you unwilling to do your part there is no deterent,.
Yes we can make the punishments more severe but that is only a small part of the criminal risk equation, the largest part is joe public not being disenfrancied and apathetic.
In summary, if you dont like what you see around you then fix it because only you can. You dont have to be a vigilante you just have to make your coppers work for you before some criminals steal them.
To some extent the police did it to themselves. Or rather some of the bastard/lazy ones screwed it up for the good ones.
I do try to support the police but many of them would rather get a pat on the back for screwing over a generally 'good' citizen who made a mistake and who is an 'easy kill' than they would try to face the uphill struggle of dealing with the real scum. I appreciate that it's a hard job and it's really the fault of the criminals, but some police officers don't help themselves and are such utter pricks that they shouldn't be allowed to deal with 'normal' people, for the sake of the Force's reputation!
...with Blighty. 16 months instead of 5 years and treble damages. These crims got off easy and that's why crime will continue to escalate in Blighty.
For the clueless... punishment is not a deterrent for all crims or crime. It's a disincentive for the majority however as Mr. Swartz recently confirmed. A high percentage of crims would think twice before commiting a crime if they knew they were going to spend the next 5+ years in prison. Nothing is going to stop all crime especially a slap on the wrist which is not a disincentive at all, it makes crime worth the risk of punishment.
Crime is actually falling, so I'm not sure your first point stands up.
As to criminals being deterred - surely it's the likelihood of detection rather than the penalty attached the determines risk? If what you said were true you could eliminate all crime by simply applying the death penalty to every crime. Empirically that doesn't work.
The risk/reward ratio applies to all human behaviour, not just crime. In crime though, increasing penalty increases the risk and in an unregulated market (such as criminal ones) will increase reward, making those willing to run that risk richer. It provides an incentive to enter the market, not a disincentive. That's why the death penalty in some countries for drug smuggling doesn't stop drug smuggling, it just makes the criminal organisations supplying those markets richer.
If you don't believe me, ask yourself this - would you make more money as a contracting DBA working in Luton, or in Iraq? What makes the Iraq job more valuable? It's the risk the individual is prepared to take on to achieve the reward.
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