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August 16, 2011


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"...other countries imprison criminals for much longer, and this results in less repeat offending." paul stannard

As far as recidivism goes, it is hard to say what happens in other countries as many do not measure it and of those that do, definitions and terms vary enormously and you have thrown out a statement without backing it up in any way or indicating what countries or facts you had in mind. I will be fascinated to see your figures, but have little expectation of you having any.

They do measure it in the Netherlands, where they have a much lower imprisonment rate (94/100,00 compared to 154/100,000 here) than here and recidivism is about the same 55.5 to 58.2 here

"Its not worth the money trying to rehabilitate no hopers, just put them away, eventually it will sink in." - paul stannard

Which is of course what they do in the USA, who have 4 times even the UK's inflated level of imprisonment and it is of course a crime free paradise that never experiences violent crime, burglary or riots.


In recent years we have seen our parliament disgraced, banks organised by thieves, top level police taking bungs, press reduced to scum etc etc.

Daily we read about ‘respectable’ people like police officers and teachers being arrested for having multiple thousand images of child porn on their computers.

Two different points, both facts, and a clear indication that our society is ill.

So how exactly should we expect the youth of our corrupt, materialistic, celebrity loving, money obsessed, I’m alright Jack nation to behave?

paul stannard

wrong. one reason we have more people in prison and more repeat offenders is that other countries imprison criminals for much longer, and this results in less repeat offending. q.e.d
we have much more crime in the uk because the sentences are too short and not a deterrent. So offenders get out quicker and repeat crimes.
Its not worth the money trying to rehabilitate no hopers, just put them away, eventually it will sink in.


"severity of punishment for wrong doing is a pretty good yardstick of society's view of 'wrong'"

Which is absolutely fine if all you want to achieve is some kind of extra measure of what is viewed as wrong.
There are few, if any who think rioting and looting is right, unfortunately mobs aren't the place to find thinking, whether its the mob of lock more people up for longer and longer who descended here today or the mobs that rioted around England.

If you want to actually stop people from perpetrating crime you'd have to take a different approach. If all we want is yet another measure then the current approach is just fine.

And for definitely the very last time, the facts are that
Britain already imprisons more people per head of population than any other EU country by a considerable margin, doing so does not give us lower crime rates and the fact that we do so did nothing to prevent the riots that occurred.


If prison was the answer, we wouldn't be having the trouble that has all of you calling for more people to be put in prison for longer.

But, then none of you lot are actually interested in dealing with the problem you prefer calling for the concept of action,however pointless to the drudgery and effort both physical and mental required to actually make an impact and change things.

paul stannard

"They did it because it was fun. And because they could. They are the worst kind cowards"
well said. 4 years is not harsh for inciting riots.It should be 10 years.
GET REAL FLYNN, my friend had his house burnt down in croydon. My wife was terrified.
Any looting, bottle of water or flat screen TV is the same crime. anyone involved should be jailed. go to croydon and just ask anyone who was there what they think.

You live in your cosy protected world, unlike a shop worker in a riot.


...and Huw...'This just simply isn't the place for any kind of proper debate'... and 575 words later...

if law and order were just about money we'd have to kill everyone who transgresses, its far cheaper than sentencing them and locking them up.. clearly we're not about that.. as an enlightened society we are striving to establish what is right and wrong in our ever changing world .. severity of punishment for wrong doing is a pretty good yardstick of society's view of 'wrong'.


What's this ?

Paul Flynn's cosy little back room bar and its handful of regulars trashed by a mob of regular citizens and voters ??

A good sign, I'd say


Paul, let me say first that I'm not infected with hysteria. These people tried to incite violence, to vandalise, rob and potentially cause physical harm to other members of our society. They didn't do it for profit. They didn't do it as a defiant gesture at a corrupt government or an over zealous law enforcement agency. They did it because it was fun. And because they could. They are the worst kind cowards. I think four years is harsh, particularly given some of the ridiculously lenient sentences handed out recently, but enough is enough....


Huw, you are right. This is no place for a proper debate, so I will keep this short and sweet.

You are delusional.

That is all.


"As a society we have a duty to punish the criminal" - Paul

This just simply isn't the place for any kind of proper debate. I would just like to highlight how incorrect that statement of yours is.

As a society we have a duty to create a country that people are generally safe from the acts of others in and to take action to address those whose actions harm others.

Dealing with issues is not, however, about punishment, we have historically used punishment as one method of attempting to deal with such issues but that does not mean that it is necessarily a good method and certainly does not mean that we have a duty to use any particular version of that method.

From any point of view, imprisoning anyone for stealing goods with a value of less than five pounds for 6 months at a cost of at least £12,500 and up to £25,000 costs society a hell of a lot and indeed will also blight his life for no discernible benefit to anyone, is simply moronic.
If the theft of a bottle of water is indeed what anyone considers to be serious criminal activity then there really is little hope for them.

And for the people using their fingers while reading this.
Yes, stealing is wrong, all stealing is wrong as long as you have legitimate access to food, water, clothing and shelter.
No one is suggesting that it is not wrong, no one is suggesting that there should not be consequences for breaking the law.
No one has anything other than sympathy and empathy for the people who lost their lives, or were injured, or had their property taken or had nothing actually happen to them but were made fearful.

What I am saying is that the legal system is not there to lash out at whoever it can get its hands on to make us feel better.
The legal system is supposed to attempt to achieve something that is not revenge, it is supposed to attempt to achieve justice.

There is nothing just about sending a young man to prison for 6 months at enormous cost to both himself and society(who will be paying for it) for the theft of a bottle of water. It doesn't do anything for the victim, it doesn't do anything for anyone except perhaps the private contractors who will be running new prison places soon enough and it won't cause even 1 person who might consider stealing a bottle of water from doing so.
Although with such a high penalty it might get them to set their sights higher when it comes to the value of goods that they might intend to steal and the amount of effort they might go to, to avoid being identified or caught.

People who have suffered as a result of these riots will have their passions running high.
Anyone who wasn't affected has no business going along with them for the ride.

The actual victims will need comfort and assistance and some will need to be urged to restraint, friends, family and anyone who genuinely cares will offer that kind of help.

Those who have jumped on the great emotional, monstrous roller coaster of vengeance, need to cop themselves on, there are a great many useful things you could be doing for people who were harmed, yelling and screaming and piling on is not amongst them.

The law is not and should not be about responding to peoples passions, especially not the 2nd hand adopted passions of those unaffected with no interest in helping.


Paul Flynn & Huw...
I am a left leaning, Guardian reading, former trade union rep' and socialist with an active interest in prison reform, both here and in the US. I agree that prisons reform is needed. I detest the Daily Mail.
However, as I've said above (comment #3), in this instance it is entirely justified in sending these 2 young men to prison for 4 years. Yes, it will blight their lives for a considerable time, but that is what happens when you set out to try and blight others lives as they did.
If I was to plan a bank robbery and enlisted others to help me rob that bank, then it matters not if I was to do it on FB or in a person with my criminal pals. It's enough that I planned serious crime. That I was sentenced to time in prison would be expected. To try and organise a riot, is seriously criminal. In fact it is far more serious as it is isn't just about acquiring money from a bank by force. It is mass criminal activity against people that could (and has) led to people being killed. It's only by sheer chance no one was burned alive in any of the fires set.

As a society we have a duty to punish the criminal, however that happens, in this case with prison. Also as a society we have a duty to try and rehabilitate too. However the criminal needs to understand they have offended society and must want to redress that behaviour. We can't just keep people out of prison who commit serious criminal activity.


the sentences handed down on them are quite severe and this is coming from someone from a country with draconian laws..


Yes Paul, take on board what Georgina says.
Despite the fact that you do empathise with those whose property was destroyed and even more so with those who were injured and have nothing but empathy for those who were killed and their families. Unless you argue strongly in favour of responses that are wrong-headed and that simply don't work then you obviously don't care.

Arguing in favour of stupid ideas is the empathic key.

Imprisoning someone for stealing a bottle of water with a value of a few pounds at a cost of many thousands is the stupidest possible solution and therefore is the only way to demonstrate true empathy.

Paul Flynn

I have read all the post with interest. It's not possible to answer all the individual points. Partly because of time, I am writing two books at the moment and the deadlines are approaching fast. I will answer in detail any constituents who are willing to give me their full names and identifying details.


Michael, Pupils are taught about what is acceptable and unacceptable to write on the internet, as are the consequences discussed. A lot of time has been spent on implementing it. Let's not scrape the bottom of the barrel for excuses. Stealing is wrong. Encouraging it is wrong. End of.
Mr Flynn, I am grateful that you are not my MP. Maybe if your livelihood or home had been ruined, you may have shown some empathy for the citizens affected.


But Darren, we moved away from harsher treatment and longer sentences because they didn't work.
Heck even when people were hanged, transported or flogged for crimes like minor theft it didn't reduce the incidences of those crimes.

We do need to finally figure out what we want prisons to be, if they are just places of punishment, well we already know that doesn't work, but every time any genuine moves to make them places to educate and reform there are knee jerk backlashes against it from people who think they only ever should be an instrument of revenge.

We have more prison places from the end of the New Labour administration than at the beginning and despite that something like 19,000 prisoners are doubled up in cells intended to house 1 person.

As to what we do with people who break laws, there are many different methods and each would have to be dealt with on a case by case basis, all too complicated for the newspapers headlines.
For example, around 1/3 of young people currently in prison simply aren't the brightest people, they need people to work with them, it would involve money and time but better spent than locking them up, institutionalising them and creating networks of hardened criminals for when they are finally released.

Many people are in prison due to addictions, something that needs to be deal with medically and by changing some of our laws to stop criminalising people with problems.

Some thoughts about alternatives can be found here


Huw, perhaps the problem does not lie with prisons themselves, but more the experience once you are inside one.

If prison has shown "...not be suitable or even mildly useful for the majority of offending," then perhaps the problem lies with other factors, for example the length of time an offender spends inside one, or the treatment of that person whilst incarcerated. If time spent in prison is found not to be effective, perhaps prisons need to be harsher and sentences longer?
It sounds like you are prosposing that we only jail the really nasty pieces of work, the rapists, murderers and paedophiles... and deal with every other offender is some other way. I'd be interested to hear your suggestions.


Pompous, arrogant, self opinionated......Huw and Flynn make a good pair.



When the despicable business favouring, light touch regulating, private finance initiative wielding wolf in sheep's clothing New Labour came into power there were around 60,000 prison places in the UK.
When they left there were 85,000 an increase of 42%.
A fairly hefty increase considering the number of hot air blowers here today who consider that they failed to have locked up enough people.
Each new prison places costs £170,000 to build and maintain and each prisoner costs approximately £45,000 per year.

These are generally the same people who want budgets cut but call for the most expensive and ineffective response to crime known, putting more people in prison.

Prison can be useful, it can get the truly dangerous out of the way, it can interrupt a pattern of behaviour, but prison itself has been shown time and time again to not be suitable or even mildly useful for the majority of offending, indeed it is more often counter-productive.
Yet time and time again, hotheads and fools call for more and more imprisonment.
It doesn't work to improve society or reduce crime, it has been proven time and again and in every country that it doesn't work.

They do of course say that insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results, in which case, the small minded denizens of middle England, as most of the idiots mouthing off here are English not Welsh or Scottish, are quite mad.

Pity really.

Phil Cooper


"ruin the lives of people who really knew no better."? Are you serious?

You are a fool.

They should - and DO - know better. Did you see the scores of interviews, on the BBC, Sky News, CNN etc, with rioters who readily said that they don't care if what they are doing is wrong? They knew it, but just didn't care and had no fear of being caught or punished.

And what about the ruined lives of people who have had viciousness and thuggery forceably imposed upon them when they were trying to make an honest, hard-working living?

Why are you sticking up for the rights of the criminals, and not those who are victims of the criminality?

We don't need left wing, liberal elements ruining this country any more than you already have. You - and Paul Flynn and others like you - have allowed an environment to flourish in the UK that favours lazy, mindless, self-absorbed, yobbish, idiot minorities who think the whole world owes them a favour, and doesn't favour the decent, hard-working, tax-paying masses.

Seriously, you are all part of the problem, not part of the solution. The best thing you can do is pipe down, until you can actually come up with some decent, constructive, effective ideas for helping eliminate yob/chav/gang culture and promoting good moral standards, good work ethic and an awareness and consideration of others.


"Surely you don't suggest that many of your constituents, or even your electors, share your views?" from Tim.

Your confusion Tim is from reading other hotheads who are here today as part of the mob in writing, with all the same sense and intelligence directing their words as the mobs looting and rioting had directing theirs.
Few if any of them are constituents of Paul's.

Britain jails more people per head of population by far than any other country in the EU, without having fewer crimes or for that matter, riots. The US has far more per head of population imprisoned, even than Britain and it is not known as a peaceful crime free oasis.

Imprisoning people is necessary in some circumstances but should be avoided where possible and it is certainly possible to avoid jailing people for taking a bottle of water.

So if you hotheads could stop blowing off steam to make yourselves feel important you may find yourselves suddenly distracted by a grinding noise, don't interrupt it, it'll be your brains starting up, give them a chance to generate some rational thoughts, as a helpful tip try adding some actual facts into your thinking at an early stage, it is important to do that because otherwise the only facts you would ever use would be ones that support the otherwise baseless views you chance upon.
Try it anyway for a while, don't strain yourselves, 3 or 4 minutes is more than enough for a beginner, although you will find that actual adult human beings spend a lot more time on their thinking than their ranting.
Once you have done that little piece of homework you can then happily return to your mindless ranting. So much easier for you.

Mark A

Mr Flynn.

Sir, Your ignorant scribblings are an insult to good hard working decent people in this country.

I hope your constituents read this blog and come to realize what a nitwit they have placed into parliament.


"Thanks very much Michael. Good To know that not everyone if infected with hysteria."

Paul Flynn

Mr. Flynn, I am not one of your constituents but live in an area affected by the recent riots and unrest. What I and others are expressing with the comments on your blog post here is not "hysteria." We are merely expressing our admiration that the harsher sentences we have been crying out for for years are finally materialising. It is my belief that increasing the severity of sentences is the right step to take to increase the fear of committing criminal acts. If there is civil unrest in the future, I think that a young person would now think twice about looting a pair of trainers from a sports shop having seen what is happening to their peers at the moment.

There's really no need to delve too much into this because, as we all know, it is your job as a Labour politician to disagree with anything the coalition say or do. If these harsh sentences were not being handed out, you would be writing about Cameron & Co being too soft.

If you said the sky was blue and Cameron agreed, you'd change your mind and call it green.


Still no answers or ideas Mr Flynn?

Just a nod to the one post even less coherent than yours?


"No classroom teaches what is, and isn't okay to post on the internet."

What planet are you on Mr. Douse? No classroom I was ever in taught me that it is wrong to murder, so does that mean I should get off lightly if I kill someone?

These two kids (who were actually 20 and 22 year old adults) saw what was happening on the news in other towns and posted messages on Facebook with the intention of starting something similar in their own town. The fact that they were unsuccessful shouldn't mean they receive any less of a sentence. The intent was there. Had more people seen their message, who knows what damage to life and property may have occured.

I agree with you that some of the 1000+ people will becmoe 'embittered at their society,' but the sad truth is that they probably already were. I hope that the majority of the youngsters arrested and sentenced will go on to spend the next 60 or 70 years being model citizens, having learnt from this experience. Yes, these sentences will blight their CV's somewhat, but with the right attitude and hard work they can still make something of their lives. And I hope they do.

Every single one of these people (including the two chaps mentioned above) knew what they were doing was wrong. You don't need to be taught in school that inciting a riot is wrong. Or that stealing is wrong, or arson, or assault or any other blatant acts of criminality.

R. Peters

Mr. Flynn,
With this post you are letting everyone know just how OUT OF TOUCH you are with the people you are supposed to represent. The British people have been crying out for tougher sentencing for years. They were never heard by the previous Labour government who were consistantly soft on crime, when Tony Blair stood before the people and said he would be 'tough on crime', he lied!
The Community Service system is an expensive sham, and is considered by criminals as a joke. They hardly ever turn up for the work they are supposed to do, and no-one bothers to check on their attendance. It's way past time the 'gloves came off' when dealing with this scum.
Home Office statistics have proven many times that the ONLY way to stop these low-lifes from a criminal career, is a LONG sentence.
I am positive that after serving 4 years at Her Majesty's pleasure, these two scum will think twice the next time. If they had been given the Community Service option they will be in the thick of the next riot.
It is way past time for M.P's to come down off the fence, get behind the people, and start thinking about what THEY want and not concentrating on lining their own pockets. It is time all this baloney about Human Rights and criminals rights was knipped in the bud and these damned 'do-gooders' were put in their place (Preferably North Alaska!). If you want to know my opinion on crime in Britain, take a long look at my own blog!
R. Peters.
A Concerned Citizen.

Paul Flynn

Thanks very much Michael. Good To know that not everyone if infected with hysteria.

Paul Flynn


one more vote lost Mr Flynn, thank God, Labour were not in power during the recent riots, otherwise all offenders would be enjoying a nice holiday courtesy of us tax payers!

Michael Douse

These sentences are an abhorrent misuse of reformation techniques designed to better people and their community. They serve no other use than to strengthen the advertised illusion of planned riots. They break their own rules, and ruin the lives of people who really knew no better.

You should not have your employment/life ruined because you knew no better.

No classroom teaches what is, and isn't okay to post on the internet. Most people think they're protected by freedom of speech.

These kids (and I'm 23) should not be jailed.

This is 1000+ people who will consequently become unemployable, and embittered at their society.

The government have stripped the process of the act, and of law, of all context in order to show their newly sharpened teeth.

It is disgusting, immoral and ethically abhorrent.

I agree with this MP entirely.


Dear Mr Flynn

If not prison in these cases then what?
You present no concrete answers or ideas whatsoever.

Surely you don't suggest that many of your constituents, or even your electors, share your views?

The riots were not in your constituency but you seem to have a [wrong] view. Can't I have a view too?

How about addressing the points raised in these comments?


Excellent post by Thomas there!

It always bothers when we read about light sentences being handed to somebody with 20 previous convinctions. Why doesn't anybody in power stop and look at that and think "...hang on, we keep putting this person away for months at a time yet he offends and offends and offends. Perhaps it would just be a better idea after his 19th conviction to just leave him there for good?"


Oh Dear Paul



Paul Flynn

Great article in the Economist about identical moral outrage against the young in comment going back to the 1850s. It was ever thus. But long prisons sentences as the answer? ......only to those who have not studied the UK and USA prison futility.


Paul Flynn replies to those that do not agree with his thoughts on his blog "Those mindlessly baying for ludicrously excessive sentences for stealing water or posting on Facebook are not the thinkers who can can reduce crime with restorative justice polices that work."

So the public with different opinions are "Mindless and Not Thinkers?" - nice to remember when your pleading for votes at the next Election.

Joe Videan

Paul, your shame your party with such ignorance to the seriousness of the situation. What on earth were you thinking?


Mr Flynn, why don't you go around your constituency and see what the people who voted for you think? You, sir, are so out of touch it makes me wonder if you are fit for office!

In London, apparently 70% of all convicted so far have previous convictions. 20% are under-18. It's pretty obvious the deterrents don't work, be it community service ( painting the fence of an old folks home, if they can be arsed to turn up), and prison ( eating better then hospital patients (FACT!), pool tables, playstations, no mobile phone blocking allowing crime lords to run their empires from the inside, blah blah blah), sentences automatically halved etc etc

Government cuts have nothing to do with it- these kids parents were the kids of Thatchers' generation and New Labour had 13 years in power to do something about it- instead they were only concerned about self-preservation. Labour borrowed to spend on pay and pensions for 1 million more State jobs than were/are needed. They taxed the private pension system into near-extinction. They kept people on benefits so lucrative that it paid not to work, and had an open-door immigration policy to allow the low- paid jobs to be filled by immigrants, essentially buying the votes of benefits claimants. Now of course, the UK pays £110m in interest alone daily. How many prisons would that build or hospitals? Or how many extra police officers would that pay for? And they left a lot of tripwires for the new Govt to deal with, again in an effort to get themselves back in at the next election.

'Cameron's friend from the News of the World is embarrassing him further.'-the same 'friend' that Campbell and Blair had on their side to run their popular headlines, and smear opponents.

'The Government have antagonised the police, pensioners, charities, animal lovers, environmental campaigners, and dozens of other groups.' - well, Mr Flynn, the rioters have antagonised every honest, decent ,tax-paying individual in this god-forsaken country of ours and you, Sir, have joined them. How you can even mention animal-lovers and environmental campaigners in this blog is frightening- you must live in cloud-cuckoo land. The police have antagonised people who expect the law to be enforced when they are standing watching their house burn or the business looted, or their partner knocked off his motorbike and then beaten up- instead they get them standing around, probably consulting the guidelines on equality and diversity before acting. And that's not a go at the incredibly brave policemen and women who had to face the rioters at the coalface.

BTW, I don't give a stuff about right or left -wing, just what is right and what is wrong! And you, Sir, are wrong!


So Paul, we can't comment on your blog because we are not your constituents. Were the two people rightly jailed for 4 years constituents of yours? No, but you are allowed to comment about it!
Can I also point out that Labour had years in power to sort out the "ludicrously expensive drug infested universities of crime" but chose not to. No good whining on about it now.
I'm not a Daily Mail reader, I'm just glad that we are seeing justice for a change, well done those judges!

Michael Fowke

The law needs to be consistent if it wants to be respected.

Colin Wright

You see Paul it’s decades of soft non-deterrent sentences that let criminals think they can do what they like with no consequences. Harsher sentencing may in the long term lead to a drop in prison numbers because people who get nothing but a slapped wrist and a don’t do it again for one offense tend to escalate their criminal behaviour like a child trying to find out just how naughty they can be before their parents actually punish them.

These guys tried to incite a riot you know burning, looting, violence. Reality check Paul that is serious it endangers lives apart from anything else. The fact they failed is immaterial after all you’d expect to do time for attempted murder if you plotted to kill someone but failed. The fact their family’s think the sentences too harsh shows how they’ve been bought up to think inciting a riot is a trivial and fun activity with no consequences.


I would also add:

What do you expect from someone who wants to legalise cannabis?

I think that you tells very clearly where the sympathies of Mr Fynn really lie.

Phil Cooper

I'm sick and tired of this obsession with political points scoring.

Mr Flynn, read the comments people have left - the anger there is - and try and get a grasp of the real world would you?

What this country needs is strong leadership, and in cases where it is in the public interest (and this is one of them, in case you hadn't noticed) for the parties to stand side-by-side.

Clearly, we can have no repeat of the horrendous scenes seen across the country last week.

It is, in fact, worse for people to perform certain criminal acts as part of a pack mentality, than it is for them to perform them in isolation. A pack mentality is more dangerous by definition; it poses a bigger threat to the security of every man, woman and child in the country - it encourages people who are otherwise cowards, scared to stand alone, to be bold and vicious.

And that is why it is fair and right that sentences are bigger for people acting with a pack mentality than it is for them acting individually. They need to know it is NOT acceptable for them to be emboldened by "weight of numbers".

Everyone in this country is fed-up to the back teeth of bleeding heart liberals and a meek and mild approach to those who do wrong, for fear of breaching their "human rights" and "civil liberties".

Forget about the causes. Yes, they also need to be addressed as part of the overall, complex array of solutions required to fix our society, but still nothing warrants what they did and it is important that they be punished.

I have no degree. I have been unemployed and short of money. But I have a sense of decency and right and wrong. I appreciated the free education I received. I attended school, I learned to read, write, communicate and be articulate. I learned maths. I pursued work, because I wanted to work, and earn more money than I could on benefits, as opposed to having my life and money handed to me on a plate, and get by with a minimal of effort and at other people's expense.

These idiots - yes idiots - have no excuses. They could do the same, but they choose not to. Instead, they choose to hurt and steal from people who make their own lives and livelihoods. How dare they? Because of people like you.

Other people have commented that you are comparing these recent, appropraite sentences to previous sentences which were too weak, and they are right. I am sick and tired of reading about people commiting heinous crimes, such as killing people whilst driving dangerously, or dunk, and of people assualting others, grievously, and getting 3 or 4 years in jail, if that. They should get decades. They should lose their benefits, if they get them. They should do community service for the rest of their lives. They should pay massive fines, so they have to go out and find work, otherwise they won't be able to afford to live, and if they can't, well that's their own problem and let evolution take its course - they should have thought of that to begin with.

Our society is in decline, because of years of weakness in the justice system and in government, which Labour have contributed to massively, certainly in terms of the accelerated deterioration in the last 15 years.

Get on board with punishing people who bring this country to its knees, or pipe downn.

MPs - what a sad, ironic conundrum that the only ones who think highly enough of themselve to put themselves forward for election in the first place, are often those least equipped to see sense and achieve anything worthwhile.


Yet again a hand-wringing Labour MP stands up for the rights of criminals over the rights of the law-abiding majority. What a suprise.

Let's answer your questions one by one.

1. "How can this make sense?"

It makes sense because people have murdered, beaten up, burnt out of homes and had their businesses destroyed by the worst organized criminality this country has seen in living memory. It is only right that harsh, deterrent sentences be applied. If you can't apply tough sentences after this, then you can't ever apply them.

2. "How does it compare with other crimes?"

Do you mean other riots? Or other muggings, murders, beatings and arson?

If these sentences are proportionally tougher, it might well be argued that exisiting sentences were too weak to begin with.

3. "What will it do to prison numbers?"

Who cares? If people have to be locked up as a deterrent to others and a punishment, then so be it.

If you have to, then build more prisons. How do you pay for it? Reduce overseas aid.

4. "It's a series of wild panic, measures, designed to claw back popularity."

Ah, so you do acknowledge that the government is responding to what the overwhelming majority of people in this county want, then? More than a Labour government did, or would.

It's precisely because of the actions of people like Paul Flynn that respect for the law has been undermined and we find ourselves in this situation.


Your comments only show's just how out of touch your are with the British people you have been elected to represent.

You should consider standing down as an MP as you clearly have no idea what people (innocent victims) have been through and seem incapable of demonstrating any understanding of why these criminals should be punished so harshly.

Paul Flynn

Thanks Huw. The blog was one the shortest I have ever posted because I am into some heavy duty writing, but it has stirred some wrath.

It's amazing that after years of the failure of ludicrously expensive drug infested universities of crime, there are still people who believe that prison works.
None of the new posts seem to come from constituents.


Paul, you obviously were not near a big city on any of the nights of the riots, as you would have been aware of the fear caused to the general public by them.
As the judge has said the sentences are also meant to act as a deterrent, and I suspect that there are millions of potential yobs out there who will be a little more careful in future about posting comments inciting violence on their Facebook page.


Another gutless politician, do us all a favour....EMIGRATE!

Simon Roscoe

I agree that the sentances are not consistent with what have been previously handed out.
Its about time criminal damage was taken seriously. 4 years is about right, with good behaviour its 2 years.
I'm fed up of thugs and yobs getting away with it in this softly softly approach. Cant do the time then dont do the crime!


Didn't think it would take long for the liberal brigade to lose their nerve. Were you watching the events last week. Murder, fires, businesses burnt to the ground. If I incite people to do this, I should face the consequences. This has been waiting to happen for a long time because no one teaches respect anymore. Time for the law abiding to be heard I think.


"How can this make sense? How does it compare with other crimes? What will it do to prison numbers? This is not Government. It's a series of wild panic measures seeking to claw back popularity."

Of course this will increase the popularity of the current Government. Do you know why? BECAUSE THE HARD WORKING PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE BEEN CRYING OUT FOR HARSHER PUNISHMENTS FOR CRIMES FOR YEARS. At last we are finally seeing someone listen to our views. It's just a shame that it took severe rioting to get there.

I just wish that these harsher sentences were used in general sentencing regardless of the rioting. Still, this is a start. If you're not bothered about the consequences you won't think twice about committing the crime. Hopefully these sentences will put fear into anyone considering committing the petty crimes that destroy our communities in future.


the reason jails are full are because of the lack of deterent.more harsh sentences is a great deterrent. Paul you are another do-gooder, have you ever rioted stolen? no because like me i dreaded goin to Borstal, the word borstal struck the fear of go into me .
those two organised a riot because they have no respect discipline.this sentence will hopefully turn them around. get your head out of the sand, take the blinkers off paul!


Dear Huw

No paroxysms or incandescence, just commonsense from the people of Britain.

Trivialising incitement to riot is not moderate or rational.

Incidentally, we are not ignorant either.


As I understand it, sentences are determined by the courts, not by the Government.

Petty party political point-scoring is a great contributor to political apathy. I'd like elected representatives to grow up and present a sensible, positive case rather than simply bashing other parties at every available opportunity. Maybe you could turn a new leaf and take the lead...?

Dan Mortby

Typical typical Labour MP going against what the judges are doing in regards to the touch sentencing. These type of sentences are necessary to send a clear message out to the public that this will not be tolerated!
Why should people be scared at home on a night incase their property gets stolen/damaged? You should NOT be an MP as you clearly have no idea what you are talking about!


Wow an influx of Daily Mail readers.

Say something else moderate and rational Paul, I want to see their paroxysms as they attempt to reach beyond their current level of incandescent ignorance.


Dear Mr Flynn

The sentences were NOT for stealing water or posting on Facebook - they were for stealing in the context of a riot and for incitement to riot and maybe to commit murder, arson and to loot shops and private houses. Why do you trivialise these serious crimes?
The Bradford Riots (2001, when New Labour were 'in a state') quite rightly resulted in very severe sentences. Did the government through away the sentencing rules then?
Why do you not suggest one single coherent idea for dealing with our broken society?
Your constituents deserve better from you.



Time to take ownership.. The main catalysts behind the riots have been Labour's lackluster rule and lax policy towards immigration...

You are out of touch with whats going on and what the majority of the general public want..


It has also been pointed out to you that the government does not send people to prison, Judges do.....This seems to be a point way beyond your comprehension.


Mr Flynn, take your head out of the sand and stop saying that they simply posted on Facebook. That grossly simplifies what they actually did.

The only fear that most of us have is the fear that somehow, someone such as yourself with such narrow, simplistic and uneducated thought processes, managed to get elected to parliament.

I sincerely hope that when you refer to 'thinkers' you are excluding yourself.


Paul Flynn is just making a name for himself, getting himself associated with any high profile piece of news and anything he says is said to provoke the majority of the public so that his name is mentioned somhow in the media. Th law had every right in sentencing these two thugs to 4 years for attempt to incite as it does with every other "attempt" offence. Should we give community sentences to attempted murderers? No. They get life the same as if the person had died. It would be wrong for me to wish harm on Mr Flynn or the other pathetic individuals making names for themselves in supporting the "Warrington 2" however if their plan had not backfired and a full scale riot took place and they were sentenced as the instigators would we be hearing from Mr Flynn or these human rights campaigners? I doubt it.

Paul Flynn

Knee-jerk Government panic is always popular in feeding the prejudices of the tabloid-fuelled masses. It was always the case. History teaches us that when people are frightened they cling to leaders who pretend to be strong. These look like the 'tough' policies demanded. They are not 'intelligent' policies that will work.

All Governments over the past 50 years have failed on recidivism. Still convicted prisoners are made worse offenders by spells in jail. Kenneth Clarke has courageously pointed out the expensive utter futility of our prison system. Those mindlessly baying for ludicrously excessive sentences for stealing water or posting on Facebook are not the thinkers who can can reduce crime with restorative justice polices that work.


With regard to your first points:

a) we are ALL in a state, together.
b) in the context of the previous days' disorder where we saw murder, riot, looting, arson and invasion of occupied dwellings, the incitement charges were very serious indeed. Four years probably means two years to serve which seems about right to me. Possibly other crimes are punished too lightly?

John Bryden

the sentences are correct and they have nothing to do with the government. rioters are, hopefully, learning.


Think you need a reality check - were you elected to represent honest, law abiding people or criminals !. Its this - its not their fault their victims approach that has brought us to the this sorry state of affairs. Stop fiddling whilst Rome burns and help get some law and order back to our streets !!!!!

Ben Williams

How nice to learn that we have MPs who do not understand the most elementary constitutional principles. What have these sentences got to do with the Government? Nothing. Dunce.


Perhaps, Mr Flynn, you would like to stop blogging for the day, take your neat little suit off and go help clean up the mess and destruction caused by these rioters, after all your extreme left wing views would probably blog about torture, if the rioters were made to clean up the mess, so someone has to do it. Evidently you have the time.


The point is...I think. That as Riots are not an everyday situation, that very extreme sentences help to focus any potential future individuals from doing the same thing.

It is about context. Which you have already happened to forget. Shoplifting water is one thing, shop lifting while shops are unprotected, people are fearing for their lives due to burning buildings and there is destruction and mayhem is another.

Apologizing for them and saying it was a normal human reaction and they got carried away is an insult to countries like Japan, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Africa, Indonesia and all countries that have face devastation from hurricanes, earthquakes and natural disasters.

I never saw people in Newzealand start stealing Ipads during the earthquake..

it makes me ashamed to be British.

Look at Japan. They have had a semi nuclear meltdown...power outtages, radiation everwhere and do they steal from the dead, ransack shops even though they were thirsty, they were hungry?

No, they line up, they wait, they stick together. You and people like you, apologize for these idiots for your own political gain.

The context of riots is this, as you have missed it.

This was wanton destruction for the sake to cause fear on purpose, injury to officers and prevent the normal response to crime that would be given in a normal situation.

mass semi organized theft without repercussion is an awful scenario.
So in a context of a non riot situation I would assume that people stealing water will again get a slap on the wrist and justice will return to the status quo.

So I would assume this, rather than what you assume.

So no rise in prison numbers , I would argue apart from the initial rise now, followed by I would argue a big dip.

no destruction of social fabric, and just a bunch of scared wanna be gangsters suddenly thinking twice about setting fire to a shop and stealing some trainers for fits and giggles., but probably appealing to idiots like you to help them out.

If I read another, 'he was/is a good boy, so out of character, brought up god fearing It wasn't him must have been a mistake' story with an MP like you latching onto it for oxygen of publicity for a career destined to be one of mediocrity, and hoping it will give you some kind of relevance even though it is for infamy then fame.

I will make a facebook page inciting people to lob pillows at your office.


Is there something wrong with you? Must every single thing turn into a political posture, a self-serving, self-righteous jerk-move? Every single word you utter is to serve exactly one person: yourself. It's pathetic that people as childish as you hold positions of power in our country.

Genuinely, is there a single word in here that is aimed at serving the British people rather than transparently being a jab at David Cameron?

"Government out of control" - infantile in the utmost. This is a provocative, hyperbolic statement at which I hope everyone rolled their eyes.

"They are in a state." - switch a word here or there and this might be the only passable statement in the article...were the word "state" used in the sense of a governed entity, rather than an (incorrect) over-exaggeration.

"Throwing away the sentencing rules results in a four year sentence for posting an incitement on Facebook." - again, this is the kind of statement a melodramatic 12 year old is mocked for writing in a creative literature essay. Frankly, it is disingenuous to the point of simply being a lie.

I could go on. I won't. If you ever wonder why people are not interested in politics, step back and think for a second. Speaking for the intellectual elite, I can tell you that while they of course recognise the importance of politics, the real problem is that they cannot stand politicians. Why? See the above. Certainly my time is too valuable to waste further on this kind of childish, falsely-naïve rhetoric.


Good to see all the counter-comments to your blog above. Why are the BBC promoting your incoherent nonsense?

Please note that the government did not hand out these sentences for incitement to riot but rather it was independent judges.

What specific 'mad repressive ideas' have the government espoused in the context of the riots?
What ideas do you have?


when will you so called 'do gooders' wake up to the real world. We are in the lawless situation today because for a generation you have gradually eroded respect for the law.The prime consideration must be to the victims not to yobbos who know that courts hand out sentences that are often considered as jokes.
The public should feel safe in the streets and more so in their homes. The first duty of government is to ensure this and not to find excuses for criminal behaviour.


It makes perfect sense, Mr Flynn.

What sort of sentence would you have demanded if it had been your house that was burned to the ground or one of your loved ones mown down by a car driven by a mob of low-life vermin intent on nothing but taking what doesn't belong to them?

The question you should be asking is why are our kind hearted volunteers being drafted in to clean up the mess, when it should be the scum who made it.
Instead they'll live an easy life behind bars and may even qualify for a Community Care Grant for a new life when they are released.

Get yourself a job as a Community Support Officer and learn some, Mr Flynn. You'll also be doing something good for your community.


I do think that the sentence for the guy who stole bottled water was just a little over the top. On the one hand, I actually don't understand what would possess anyone to steal bottled water, unless they were dying of thirst - it seems a positively bizarre thing to do - but to jail someone for it, rather than a fine, community service or whatever, just seems to be pandering to typical reactionary Conservative attitudes.

Rather than trying to appeal to the Daily Express brigade with their superficial, vacuous attitudes, the Conservatives should be asking themselves about why these riots occurred. A superficial, excessively-materialistic society ("I must have the latest trainers") pushed by certain elements of the media is one factor, but another is Conservative spending cuts. How can the Conservatives have anything valid whatsoever to say about the riots when their cold-hearted, heartless, obsession with spending cuts seems to me to be partly responsible? Remember that George Osborne has messed up lots of people's lives. If we're talking about morality, how can he get away without facing consequences, i.e. the sack?


I think Paul Flynn needs a refresher on UK law.

The sentences are not set by the Govt. or David Cameron, they are set by individual judges who guard their independence very closely.

It could be argued that the judges have taken it upon themselves to engage in a bit of activism, but it has absolutely nothing to do with politicians.

"Paul Flynn: Read my Lies, Solid ********"


So what do you want to see Paul, the courts acting all namby pamby, slapping the criminals on the wrist and saying "don't do it again?"
I thought Labour's mantra was "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" or have you forgotten this?
You need to get yourself down to the affected areas and ask the victims if they think the sentences are fair.
Carry on like this and labour will be seen as the party that supports the rioters.


It's good that the courts are taking sentencing so seriously. It's worth remembering these crimes were not committed randomly they were organised.

R Brooks

How suprizing to see the Labour Party taking the side of the rioters. This was not just a post of Facebook. The fact that you can't see that just shows how out of touch you are.


One can only assume that it was not your property or life that was endangered by the actions of these two thugs.


"How can this make sense? How does it compare with other crimes? What will it do to prison numbers?"

It makes sense in that it has sent a very stern warning to all the idiots who think they can do anything they want without reproach. How does it compare? It doesn't. Neither should it, it has to be exemplary to show that the rights we have come with responsibilities too, ignore those and you will lose your freedom for a considerable time.
To answer the question - "what does this do to prison numbers?" Easy, it'll vastly increase them. What else are we to do with people who riot, loot, burn and mug at will in our society? Seriously..do we just let them get away with a light non-custodial sentence? Do we let them back onto the very streets where they robbed their neighbours?

Dr Daniel Santos

I find your recent comments about sentencing incredible. The sentences handed out recently are correct and fair. It is past sentences that have been wrong and you are comparing fair sentences with unfair ones. I think 6 months for stealing a bottle of water when rioting is fair. It is not fair that a corrupt politician robbing the tax payer gets 4 months and serves only 2. It should have been 10 years without parole. Your comments and those people that share your views are the reason why this country is soft on crime and is a dangerous place to live. There will never be any moral fabric in this country with politicans holding views as yours.


"four year sentence for posting on FB", slightly misleading Paul, they set up facebook pages, invited people to meet at a specific time and place with the intent to loot and steal from places in their local areas.

Maybe it is time for deterents, after all we seem to have tried support and assistance methods, and they didn't work?

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