A recent addition to all the other supposedly campaigning groups out there has been one called Restore Justice. The name plays on the idea that “Justice” has somehow been removed from part of the judicial process – it has not – while in reality being a front group lobbying for restoration of capital punishment. The last judicially sanctioned execution in the UK took place in 1964.
Who is behind this group? It will surprise no-one that Restore Justice is fronted by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes. Staines has taken his idea and, er, waddled with it, starting a petition on the Government’s e-petitions site, and overseeing a propaganda initiative which has asserted that murder rates had doubled since the abolition of the death penalty.
Sadly, though – and utterly predictably for Staines watchers – this assertion is not true, and The Great Guido has today had his knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which has told that the advert was “misleading”. This is a polite way of calling out Staines for telling whoppers. It also showed why the claim is not true.
The assertion was stood up by taking figures from 1964 – which is, as noted above, the date of the last hanging, and not the date of actual abolition, which came in 1969. Moreover, the period on which Restore Justice is basing its claim ends in 1997, which is fourteen years ago. Murder rates since then have not been considered by the campaign.
Does this matter? Well, yes it does: in 2008/9 the UK recorded its lowest murder rate for 20 years. The intentional homicide rate for the UK fell from 1.71 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to just 1.17 in 2009. By contrast, the USA, where many states still execute, went from 5.5 to 5.0 in the same period, while Russia, which also executes, went from 28 to 15.
Intentional homicide rates for West and Central Europe – meaning mainly the EU, where no state executes – were the world’s lowest in 2004 and 2010. The figures do not support the central argument behind the Restore Justice campaign, that executing convicted murderers would somehow provide sufficient deterrent in itself to lower the murder rate.
Once again, The Great Guido has been so eager to open fire that he has shot himself in the foot. Another fine mess.