Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere

There’s nothing more annoying than seeing someone breaking the rules – and getting away with it.

This has been a problem with some people who park illegally in Ipswich. Many of us will have seen the same car receiving ticket after ticket for repeatedly parking illegally.

The Council always chases drivers who don’t pay their fines but if a vehicle isn’t registered with the DVLA, or is registered incorrectly, then it can be impossible to trace the owner. Some of these drivers believe this means they can park illegally with impunity.

That’s why we are now going to immobilise or tow away the cars of drivers who persistently refuse to pay their fines and only release the vehicle when their owner pays up.

I think it’s fair to assume that this will significantly reduce, if not completely stop, the problem.

Our experience of parking – that fines are only a deterrent if people think they’ve got to pay them – made me consider the recent Sentencing Act.

The Government wants to signal that it is tough on crime by increasing maximum prison sentences.

But no one who commits a crime is going to receive the maximum sentence unless they are actually caught and successfully prosecuted.

After a decade of cuts, both our police and court system are desperately underfunded – with more cuts on the way after Rishi Sunak’s last budget.

Even before Covid, there was a massive backlog of criminal cases waiting to be tried. Delays in court cases can run for years and this causes big problems trying to get a successful prosecution. Key witnesses may move away or even die. Time can make memory unreliable. Victims may become disillusioned and drop the case.

Justice delayed very often becomes justice denied.

This is most stark in cases of rape. Over the last year, police recorded 58,856 cases of rape but this led to just 2,102 prosecutions and only 1,439 convictions.

So, in 98% of rape cases, the maximum sentence was irrelevant – and therefore no deterrent – because the perpetrator wasn’t convicted.

If the Government is serious about getting tough on crime it needs to focus less on sentencing and more on increasing the number of successful prosecutions by properly funding our criminal justice system.

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