BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
'Tough justice' for criminals
The Bishop of Birmingham the Right Reverend John Sentamu
Bishop Sentamu's views have been criticised by a victims' campaigner
Britain's criminal justice system is too tough and is based upon vengeance rather than reconciliation, according to the Bishop of Birmingham.

The Right Reverend John Sentamu said the government had a "simplistic" approach to punishing offenders.

Speaking at the annual Lord Longford Lecture on penal reform in London, Bishop Sentamu called for a system which did not "ignore the needs of the offender".

But Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said Bishop Sentamu was out of touch with reality.

If you want to commit a crime, you make that choice and if you make that choice time and time again, then imprisonment is the only alternative
Norman Brennan, Victims of Crime Trust

Mr Brennan, a serving police officer, said there was 105 organisations to represent the criminal.

"This country is sick and tired of people like the bishop pontificating on how society should behave towards the offenders.

"We rarely, if ever, hear condemnation of those that blight society through burglary, robbery, rape and by carrying guns.

"If you want to commit a crime, you make that choice and if you make that choice time and time again, then imprisonment is the only alternative."

Steady increase

Bishop Sentamu, who sat on the judicial inquiry into the bungled police investigation of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, made his comments on Monday.

"The constant fear of appearing to be weak on crime means our prisons are full to bursting as a result of politicians' fear of being labelled as the 'criminal's friend', but this solution isn't working," he said.

"Our need for 'monsters' must not drive a system of justice.

"We should be concerned at the steady increases in the levels of incarceration and imprisonment, the simplistic approach favoured by successive governments."

Bishop leads war protest
15 Feb 03  |  England
New bishop walks with the people
16 Nov 02  |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific