Good start for Andy

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, February 15, 2013

 

Good start for Andy

New chief constable of police, Andy Marsh.

THE VIEW FROM HERE SO far, so good, for our new chief constable of police, Andy Marsh, who intends to make the Island a "hostile place for criminals", the kind of thinking which would surely be endorsed by Prince Harry.

Next thing we know, Andy will be targeting our burglars who are "doing bad stuff" and taking them "out of the game". Excellent!

What IW criminals will make of Chief Constable Andy’s mission is anyone’s guess. Taunted with the threat of "no hiding place" for felons, they may be carving out little nooks and crannies in our cliffs at this very moment.

Ooh, it will be High Noon all over Sandown Bay, with Andy taking the Gary Cooper role of the zero-tolerance marshal.

In the film, he was married to Grace Kelly, sadly no longer available.

OK, that’s the dramatics done and dusted. More interesting is our new chief constable’s support for the role of community justice panels in bringing victims and wrongdoers together to resolve conflict and harm caused by anti-social behaviour and low-level offences.

The very notion will probably cause harrumphing among those who think the answer to crime, at whatever level, is a jolly good dose of retribution and none of this psychobabble nonsense.

Bring victims and wrongdoers together? Do-gooder twaddle, harrumph, harrumph, unless the victim gives the wrongdoer a right old going-over, preferably shooting him in the process.

Well, it’s a point of view, I suppose.

But while to many it might be understandable, it is of little use if it does not make society a better place. Beyond Right and Wrong, a documentary film launched last month, explores the subject of forgiveness and features a number of people who have been able to form relationships with those who have harmed them through criminal activity.

Some of those crimes were, you would have thought, beyond forgiveness.

MP Sir Anthony Berry was killed when Patrick Magee, a Provisional IRA activist, blasted Brighton’s Grand Hotel in 1984 during the Conservative Party Conference.

His daughter, Jo, has since met Patrick Magee on many occasions and the two of them have given talks in prisons, universities and peace conferences, as well as taking part in reconciliation workshops.

"It was part of my healing to hear his story and reach an understanding of why he chose violence," she has explained.

Not everyone could do what Jo Berry has done, nor have the capacity for forgiveness displayed by Richard Moore, who also appears in the documentary. He was blinded by a soldier in Northern Ireland when aged just ten and has grown up not only to forgive but to befriend the man who shot him.

"It was forgiveness which allowed me to operate as a fully-functioning human being," he says in the documentary.

It should be our fervent hope the Island never has to confront the issue of reconciliation in such horrendous circumstances as those experienced by Jo Berry and Richard Moore. And some people simply do not have the capacity to forgive. Some victims would refuse to meet those whose crimes had affected them.

But there have been very good results when such meetings have been possible, with victims finding a certain release and lessening of distress and criminals properly realising the vulnerability and trauma they have caused.

I am also impressed by Andy Marsh’s intention to work with Island partners in tackling "the cause of crime."

It’s not a softy, do-gooder approach to try to understand what turns people into criminals and to address those issues. It’s pragmatic, it’s logical, and in the long run will save society a lot of bother.

Understanding? Reconcil-iation?

Oh dear, I can hear the harrumphing already.

Good luck with the job, Andy.

It’s all fun but hardly the biggest issue now

I AM adoring the kerfuffle over gay marriages, with opponents coming over all Leviticus, resigning from the Tory Party and getting into a right old state lest the next development will be toddler marriages, sibling marriages, possibly even marriages between pairs of curtains.

What do I think about the subject? Well, apart from wondering why everyone seems quite unhealthily obsessed with other people’s sexual enjoyment, I note the debate took place in a week when the report into Stafford Hospital revealed the cruelty inflicted on patients by those who should have been caring for them, when the Middle East continued to descend into carnage and when, if statistics followed their usual pattern, at least two women in Britain were killed by their husband or partner ("Man and woman" not so ideal in these cases, huh?)

So in the light of all that, what I think is that it’s all supremely unimportant and if gays want to get married, just let them. The sky won’t fall in and it’ll be good for the florist trade.

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