25 Sep 2009

Ronnie Biggs

I am fed up with certain comments on the subject, reiterated by Any Questions today on Radio 4.

Ronnie Biggs took part in a train robbery. He was the getaway driver. This does not negate his offence. The law on assisting offenders states "Whosoever shall aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of an indictable offence shall be liable to be tried, indicted and punished as the principle offender" He aided and abeted, knew people were being stolen from, knew people were being hurt and still continued. He is to be punished as a full participant of the act. One trapeze artist is no less important because they only catch the other, not do the flip themselves.

He has not served 30 years of his sentence. He escaped and spent 25 years in luxury. He has served 18 months of a life sentence. He has not payed his dues.

I will say as he is dying, it was right to release him. But not because he is dying. It is well known that medical care in the Criminal Justice System is well below the standard of the NHS. This is a human right as far as I am concerned, entitlement to medical care with no discrimination. So yes, releasing him to the care of a hospital was right in the circumstances, BUT we need better services in Prisons and the Government should use this opportunity to read the miles of research into poor quality offender care and rectify it so they are not forced by public opinion to release people serving sentences due.

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