One of the Costs of Ignoring Sin Nature

Last week, in talking about the riots in the UK last month, I posted on the fact that people are sinners, and mentioned that “social policy” in the UK has been based extensively on a philosophy which rejects this truth.  News out today is revealing of one area, at least, in which this false philosophy has greatly failed British society.

The BBC is reporting that three-quarters of those charged in the riots had a previous caution or conviction, those with criminal records averaged fifteen previous convictions, and one in four had at least ten earlier offences.  The official statistics to date show that of the 1561 people for whom data was available, their prior offence history was as follows:

Prior Offenders Offenders
Offences (percent) (number *)
0 27.4% 428
1 10.2% 159
2 7.4% 116
3-5 14.7% 230
6-10 14.0% 219
11-14 6.0% 94
15-49 15.4% 240
50 or more 4.8% 75

* The last column is derived from the percentages, and may be off by one or two in some rows.

There were over 300 people who were free to commit crimes who have already committed 15 or more crimes in the past (not counting the ones for which they haven’t been caught, of course).  Seventy-five people had committed over 50 offences.  In total, these 1561 people (remember, there are others not included in these statistics) had before the riots committed 16,600 crimes for which they had been caught, 1000 of which were crimes of violence, and over 5000 of which were robbery or other theft-related crimes.

But this is nothing new — in England and Wales, in the 12 months to 31 March 2011, there were 55,000 crimes committed by people who already had committed 50 prior offences (same source).  In reality, if these people were caught that many times, they probably committed at least three or four times that many crimes, but we’ll use the 55K number for discussion.

That’s 55,000 victims.  55K people who have had their life disrupted.  For some, it has meant injury, for others financial loss, for others it just means they have to waste time and money cleaning up whatever mess the offenders left.  For many it means fear, perhaps for the rest of their life.  Afraid to go out after dark, sometimes afraid to go out in broad daylight.  Fear of what will happen to their kids, to their families.  Simple things like putting flowers in the front garden won’t happen, not because people don’t want to, but because they know the wreckers will come along and destroy anything nice that they do.  People won’t go out and talk to their neighbours, because they are afraid to be out of their homes.

Retirement dreams are wrecked, because the place they thought would be home has become a place of fear, and property values have been damaged by the thugs running the neighbourhood.  Insurance premiums increase.

It is a disaster on every level.  Those who are already known by the police to have committed 50 crimes (!!!) or more are inflicting more damage on British society, blighting more lives, than any terrorist could ever hope to achieve, and they do it every single year.


God said that government is “the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).  British governments (of whatever party) have been totally derelict in their duty for many years.  A revenger executing wrath?  Does anyone think that is an accurate description of a government that allows offenders to go on, and on, and on offending (more than 50 times!), and never takes steps significant enough to actually stop them?

You might say, “Revenge, Jon?  Are you actually calling for the government to take revenge?”  No, I’m not calling for that, God is.  If they take revenge on those who do evil, they are serving as the minister of God in doing so.  That’s what the Bible says.  That might not sound “nice”, but the thing is, crime isn’t nice, either.  Crime is evil, and government is there to deal with those who aren’t nice in a way that stops them.

You see, government needs to even the balance.  Wicked people will use violence and dishonesty to wrong the weak, the vulnerable, and the law-abiding.  If the government provides no deterrent, no serious consequences to evildoers, nothing that matters enough to make them reconsider before they steal or attack someone again, nothing that sends out the message to others that “You can’t do that,” then the weak and the vulnerable are completely at the mercy of the violent.  The law-abiding are tempted to take the law into their own hands, because out on the streets, where it matters, when the police aren’t around, THERE IS NO LAW, and people start to wonder if they have to be their own law to have any decency in their neighbourhood.

Evil people do evil over and over again unless they are stopped, either by force or by a significant enough deterrent that they hesitate to commit their wickedness again.  That is what is happening in Britain, and has been happening for decades, spiralling downwards until we hit the riots last month.

So what does the BBC Home Affairs correspondent have to say about this report (on the article I linked above)?

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke says this first detailed breakdown of the rioting and looting figures vindicates his analysis: too many criminals with too many convictions – and nobody bothering to stop them in their tracks.

But the headlines mask a much more complicated picture which will take time to reveal.

For a start, we don’t know enough yet about the socio-economic backgrounds of the offenders – those figures should come later this year but nobody is promising.

With all due respect to Mr Casciani, this kind of comment is part of the problem.  We talk about it being “complicated” and wonder about the “socio-economic backgrounds of the offenders”.  The vast majority of individuals, no matter what their socio-economic background, do not have a rap sheet 50 items long.  Even if most of a person’s crimes weren’t that “serious”, that kind of criminal record reveals a person’s total disregard for law and their fellow-man.  The worst offenders are people who have chosen a life of evil, of theft, of violence, and no one is stopping them.  There is nothing complicated about evil.  It’s what people do if there is neither internal self-discipline nor external restraint to stop them.

Since we don’t believe in evil anymore in Britain, we don’t teach internal self-discipline.  And external restraint is hampered by those who look for any excuse (socio-economic background, skin colour, addiction, whatever) to minimise the evil that wrongdoers have committed.

Nor are we being “compassionate”.  This is one of the saddest lies making the rounds.  People with long criminal records are not happy in what they are doing.  They are miserable, wracked by guilt, fearful of being caught, fearful of a victim lashing out at them, often consumed by a vengeful and hateful attitude toward others, lonely, often unloved and unloving.  When government never intervenes, the criminal continues on his miserable path, hating and being hated, without self-respect or dignity.

Mankind has a natural tendency towards evil, and it must be restrained.  If people will not exercise self-restraint, they must be externally restrained, by the government if necessary, by force if necessary.  The government must be prepared to bring to bear significant enough consequences that a life of crime is untenable and will not continue.  The refusal to acknowledge this is one of the biggest scandals of the Western world today, and was perhaps the greatest contributing factor to the looting and violence last month.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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