Pollster Anthony Wells has reviewed the polling evidence, all of which shows popular support for the death penalty everywhere in Britain, except in parliament.
A lot of readers are asking why the e-petition specifies child killers and cop killers. The reasons are two-fold, in the case of child killers some crimes are so abhorrent that society demands more than protection, it wants retribution. Myra Hindley and Ian Brady’s 13 minute tape of them sexually torturing 10 year-old Lesley Ann Downey, with the child’s endless screams and pleas for her mother, truly shocked a nation. Hindley and Brady tortured and killed five children for sexual kicks. Even after half-a-century of pampered imprisonment they proved beyond rehabilitation. In cases like theirs, where there is no doubt of guilt and after due process of the law, justice should not prevent retribution. Retribution is missing from the criminal justice system.
The Soham murderer, Ian Huntley and Milly Dowler’s killer Levi Bellfield, a serial killer, would both under this proposed legislation pay for their crimes with their own life. That is the wish of many victim’s families, in the words of Gemma Dowler they want “a life for a life”. So do the public…
When the public are asked about the death penalty the results have consistently shown a majority in favour, when they are asked specifically about child killers, the numbers change dramatically with a range of polls showing two-thirds to three-quarters in in favour. On this issue there is definitely a clear regressive majority in Britain.
It is a similar picture for cop killers, the public understands that the police put themselves in harm’s way on their behalf every day. If a criminal in the course of committing a crime kills a police officer it is invariably deliberate. Having the death penalty for cop killers will make criminals fear the consequences and give extra legislative protection to the police beyond a stab vest. Once again the public shows a two-thirds majority in favour of the death penalty for cop killers. Not because their lives are worth more than ours, it is because the police daily risk their lives to protect our lives.
The third common objection is that Britain is bound by treaties that prevent us implementing the death penalty. Some claim that the ECHR prevents us, actually the Covenant itself specifically exempts “a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law”, it is later protocols which were added on that prohibit the death penalty. The protocols can be of course de-ratified or Britain can withdraw from the ECHR. The e-petition calls on the Ministry of Justice to first review international commitments and prepare a legislative escape path before bringing forward substantive legislation. This is what a free and sovereign nation of laws does if parliament wishes to change course.
The “Restore Justice” campaign website will be up and running by the end of the week, thousands have registered to support the campaign already. You can too, here.