On Saturday, the Canterbury Journal reported Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott’s reasons for raising the force’s council tax precept by £1 a month.
It was, he said, to pay for a recruitment drive in response to public demand for more visible policing.
Just a few hours into the afternoon Canterbury was then treated to an appalling series of random and savage gang attacks across the city.
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These followed an attack the previous day when it was reported that a boy had been beaten by two teenagers brandishing metal weapons on London Road at the junction with New Street.
When crimes like these take place in broad daylight in public places, it’s all to easy to ask: where were the police?
To which the obvious answer is: not where the crimes took place. Only the most stupid or drunken people commit crimes in sight of police officers.
The real question, therefore, should be: why do people – particularly young people – feel like they can commit such offences.
And the answer to that is alarming.
It is that those committing these crimes – sometimes described collectively as “a feral youth” – have absolutely nothing to fear from the criminal justice system.
Most minor crimes, that is most crimes that you or I might be exposed to or be a victim of, are dealt with by warnings or fixed penalty notices.
And yet it is these crimes which drive people crazy, especially those which involve late noise and disturbance.
So few offences are actually sent to the courts that Canterbury Magistrates’ Court no longer handles criminal cases. It instead deals with inquests and family court cases.
But then if you do find yourself in court, what chance is there that you will go to prison except if you have committed the most serious offences or a repeat offender?
A perfect example of this happened last year when a 20-year-old student called Ali Ketbi broke the hip of a female door supervisor with a flying kick in Guildhall Street on a drunken night out.
His 24-year-old victim suffered life-changing injuries. She and her partner were emotionally devastated by the attack.
Ketbi walked away from court a free man with a suspended prison sentence. And even if he had gone to prison, he would have done only half the actual time he was sentenced to.
All this happens because so much of the criminal justice system these days is dedicated to “rehabilitatation” rather than punishment.
And that has happened because the academics and policy makers and politicians wanted it to happen. It didn’t happen because the broad mass of the public – especially those who fall victim to crime – asked for it to happen.
They want quite the opposite: they want criminals to suffer for the things they have done.
More police on the streets is a step in the right direction to deterring crime. But the most important measure we could take would be to make punishments more severe and prison time harsh.
The thugs, drunks, robbers and vandals would soon be thinking twice about their actions if they genuinely had something to fear from the criminal justice system.