Loyal readers will recall that I recently criticised the upcoming Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. They will recall that, after a flighty alarmist essay on LibCon, I calmed down and wrote a measured, balanced, meticulously-researched open letter to my MP and my parents’ MP (not sure where I was living). These were sent over a month ago, in email and physical form (just to make sure).
From my current London MP, no response beyond an automated email promising a response in 14 days. So much for that.
For the MP at home home, I’ve finally received a response:
Dear Mr Lindsell,
Thank you for contacting me about the recent consultation on maximum prison Sentences for Dog Attacks Causing Injury or Death.
Dog attacks can be terrifying and I believe that we should have appropriate penalties to punish those who allow their dog to injure people while out of control. Ministers recently announced changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. Those measures including extending the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to private property and providing protection from prosecution for householders whose dogs attack intruders in the home.
I believe that the measures that the Government is introducing are a proportionate, measured response that will improve the way in which irresponsible dog ownership is addressed and help to prevent further attacks. In particular, the provisions in the Bill already deal with exactly the type of problems that would be dealt with by dog control notices.
I am pleased that the Government undertook a consultation before the next Parliamentary stage of the Bill, on a change to the maximum sentence for allowing an aggravated dog attack, namely where a person or an assistance dog is injured or killed by a dog. The Government will consider all responses and issue a response taking in to account the points raised. I do not wish to prejudge the outcome of the consultation as I believe this process is the best avenue to allow interested parties to raise their concerns regarding the specific policy.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Wright MP
This is rather depressing.
Jeremy Wright MP is the Minister for Prisons and a trained lawyer.
My criticisms of the ASBCP bill [prizes for anyone who can make a catchy acronym] were:
- the bill made it near-impossible to get compensation for miscarriage of justice
- the bill’s IPNAs [super-ASBOs] gave police too much power with too much subjective discretion
- the bill’s PSPOs [dispersal orders] threatened legal protest and freedom of assembly
- the bill contributed to a general lurch towards heavy-handed state supervision
My criticisms did not include:
- unicorn horn shape and size safety regulations’ cross-compliance with EU Directive 1998/238A.
- the war in Syria.
- oliphaunts rampaging around Harad.
I had taken quite a lot of time to verify these criticisms, I didn’t just complain to make a good blog. My blogs don’t get the hits or income to justify that. I had read the minutes of committee meetings and the wording of the draft bill itself, which is bloody tedious. I had talked to lawyers and read human rights groups’ scrutiny of the bill. I linked to all of these, which is part of the reason I sent a companion email (and I explained as much in the letter). All of my criticisms were at least valid enough to deserve an actual response.
So it’s pretty disappointing to receive, weeks late, a response that talks about dogs.
I don’t care much about dogs. I did not contact Jezza about the recent consultation on maximum prison Sentences for Dog Attacks Causing Injury or Death. I have never owned a dog. I have been bitten by dogs, very occasionally, but never felt the need to write to an MP about it. I kicked the dog in question and it ran away.
I didn’t even write the word ‘dog’ in my letter. I understand that there are provisions for dealing with dangerous dogs in the ASBCO bill, but I don’t care about them.
Perhaps I should. Perhaps Jeremy was bluntly telling me to ignore my worries about right to assembly, abuse of state power, miscarriage of justice and so on, because violent dogs were the real issue.
Or perhaps he has someone about my age working in his office responding to constituency correspondence, who was either incompetent, lazy or deliberately obtuse.
Update, 19 September 2013: After writing this, it quickly emerged that I was not alone. No, my isolation in the freezing tundra of Jeremy Wright’s cold shoulders was and is already inhabited by Mr Ben Veasey/ Benedict Walshe (he goes by many names), who had asked our MP for communication over Syria. He has blogged about both of our experiences here, and I’m sure I’ll mention if Jezza gets back to him. You should read it – it’s funny and it’s got excellent artwork from Rowan Abbott Studio and actually might make you want to read his other blogs.
Watch this space.
Feel free to comment!