Home secretary Sajid Javid has had something of a whizz of an idea. In future, violence will be treated as a disease.
Home secretary Sajid Javid has had something of a whizz of an idea. In future, violence will be treated as a disease. The first benefit is that it will reduce crime statistics by an exponential number. It will take the pressure off the police who presumably will not require more funding in the foreseeable decades.
I accept, however, that it is likely to put an extra strain on the NHS but the savings on justice budgets can easily be diverted. Another downside, for lawyers at any rate, will be further curtailing of work – but again the legal aid budget will be spared millions. Given the need for more doctors, no doubt the savings there will provide money for us to retrain for a more useful and respected occupation.
On the social side there will be the removal of any peer stigma, something which will obviously help the sick person. In this kinder society in which we now live, rat catchers have become pest control operators and a violentor will no longer have to admit to being a partner-beater (see how at last I am getting today’s terminology correct) but it will rather be like having measles, which rightly has no social stigma attached.
The sick person will be able to go straight to the doctor and say: ‘I’ve just beaten my partner to pulp, may I have a sick note for seven days please?’
Obviously, there will be work to be done on the suggestion and time will be needed both to implement it and see if he is correct. There will, of course, be degrees of illness. And potential sufferers will be identified early as coming from broken homes, poor housing, parents convicted of crime etc, something which I thought was already a stable part of criminology.
Now that capital punishment is generally frowned upon, statistics show the belief that there is no single punishment – probation, community service, prison, etc – in the western world which has a more significant effect on recidivism than any other. The home secretary may, in a sentence, have found a solution to a centuries’ old problem.
James Morton is a writer and former criminal defence solicitor