I listened to a sad story on BBCR4 today this morning – a grieving mother can’t bury her daughter, murdered, because there’s no body – in years of searching none has been found. The killer isn’t co-operating (they don’t have to, although it would improve their parole terms to do so). She wants a change in the law so murderers can’t get parole until a body is produced (habeas corpus, literally).
This is a worthy campaign, and it must blight her life. Thing is, this scenario affects ’70 whole families’, by her own numbers. Just 70 in the whole of the UK. A change in the *law* for this? A law which has to go through parliamentary scrutiny (twice), occupying time and resources.
Couldn’t sentencing just be updated, instead?
We have a vast number of small, tiny, individually important laws but are they collectively eating away at the vitality of our democracy? MPs need to be wrestling with and thoroughly, openly, debating the massive challenges of our time – automation, climate change, ageing, food security, migration. Most complain of long hours. Not every minor cause is lucky to have an effective MP to champion it, either – which ‘good ideas’ make it into law is arbitrary, in this sense. And finally: should we have hundreds of such minor bills on the book?
Or a simpler legal code, with more judges, able to devote more time to judicious sentencing, and a fast effective appeals process for victims and the convicted if they feel sentences and parole are unjust?