Letter: Silcott rubbished

Sir: I hope I have some understanding of the anger, frustration and pain felt by those whose police colleagues have been killed or maimed in the pursuit of their duty. Nonetheless, I find it disturbing that the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation should feel free to make such comments as "throw away the key" and "a leopard does not change his spots" on the way the proper course of justice has treated a prisoner ("Praise for Silcott is rubbished by police union", 13 December).

When a positive comment by the Parole Board is rubbished in that way, what does it say to a young constable arresting someone he or she sincerely believes to be guilty of heinous crime? Why not doctor the evidence slightly? Why not duff them up a little? After all, we know who is guilty and what their punishment should be.

As to the leopard's spots, we know prison is singularly inefficient at rehabilitation, but what is the point of any of it if we believe there is no possibility of redemption? In Scotland we have a few examples of the most notorious criminals who have made good.

I was particularly impressed by the comment of Jimmy Boyle that in one sense he had not changed his spots - he still had the same drive and aggression and intelligence that he used in his criminal life, but an enlightened regime had enabled him to redirect these towards more positive ends.


Menstrie, Clackmannanshire