I was dismayed to read your important lead article by Matt Stott ‘Outrage as rapists taken off offenders register’ very quickly turn into party political posturing and fear mongering about the European Courts of Human Rights by our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore.
The issue of sex offenders being taken off the register is a real concern to me and many of your readers. Critically though this EU Court ruling does not take away the existing review structures already in place by the police and other agencies to keep dangerous offenders on the register. This is the point made by Detective Superintendent Alan Caton. The importance of which was reiterated by Cath Elliot from Suffolk Rape Crisis who asked how it is decided that sex offenders are no longer a danger. The EU Court ruling essentially said that a blanket ‘life time’ on the register with no opportunity to request a review by offenders breaches their Human Rights. This is no ‘opening of the floodgates’
Mr Passmore refers to the ‘higher power’ of the EU Court implying that it dictates to the UK. In fact the Supreme Court interprets the law and it is up to our Parliament to decide how to proceed with that interpretation. Mr Passmore refers to the UK as a ‘sovereign nation’ The UK exercised its ‘sovereignty’ sixty years ago by becoming party to the European Convention on Human Rights and deciding that rulings from the court would be respected by UK governments.
Mr Passmore asserts that the EU Courts are unelected and unaccountable which is simply not true. In fact the United Kingdom nominates its own candidate, has 18 seats on the Parliamentary Assembly and our own elected MPs vote on which judges to appoint. This is more power than they have to elect domestic judges and some people believe we could take advice from the EU courts on how to make our own justice system more democratic and accountable.
It is concerning that leading political figures; and by default, the organisations they lead; do not see the damage they do by distancing themselves from the principles of upholding human rights. In doing this they are responsible for the further erosion of public trust and confidence in human rights.
Were Mr Passmore’s comments motivated by the Conservative Party losses in the local County Council elections last week in the face of growing ‘anti Europe’ sentiment? If so in my opinion there should be no place here for these types of politics for they serve no useful purpose for our police service or the people of Suffolk.