Punishment or protection?

August 06, 2010, 9:55 PM GMT+0

Nearly two thirds (62%) of the British public feel that police should not be using so much of their resources to protect high-profile convicted criminals, compared to just 29% who feel that the police ‘have a duty to protect everyone’ from violence, a recent poll for the Sun has discovered.

The finding comes in light of the recent conviction of Jon Venables for child pornography offences and the naming of convicted paedophile Leslie Blanchard, with whom Venables made email contact by pretending to be a 35-year-old mother. Since being ‘outed’, police have had to move Blanchard three times to new ‘safe’ housing in order protect him from vigilante attacks, and Venables himself was protected with a new identity, job and home when he was released in 2001 for murdering toddler James Bulger in 1993.

A clear majority of Conservative supporters (70%) are in support of the idea that police should not be using so much of their resources to protect such convicted criminals, compared to 57% of Labour voters and just 45% of Lib Dem supporters.

However, a significant proportion (29%) believes the police have a duty to protect everyone from violence, even if they are convicted criminals: nearly half of LibDems (46%) hold this opinion, compared to 35% of Labour and only one quarter (25%) of Conservatives.

Strong views over Venables’s conviction have also been expressed by TellYouGov users, or ‘tyggers’, with comments such as ‘time the state stopped protecting him at the expense of his child victims’ and ‘I fail to see why his identity is still being protected as this is a separate charge and he is now an adult’ representing the general mood on the board. It is perhaps a reference to just how shocking the nation found Venables’s original crime that punishment, rather than protection, is the lingering attitude surrounding this still-sensitive issue.

Related story: Public unwilling to forgive Jon Venables
Related story: Child criminals : What age is too young?

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