After the recent remarks made by Iain Duncan Smith to BBC Radio 4, it would appear that the UK Government are genuinely considering removing all benefits from those convicted of having been involved with the recent UK riots. Whilst for many this would seem an appropriate addition to any custodial sentence, the current considerations are being held to include the removal of benefits from those convicted but not sentenced to a custodial punishment.
These benefits include social housing and social maintainence/welfare pay which, if removed, could lead to many being homeless and without the financial means to support themselves. Whilst many people are supporting the removal of benefits on the basis that the Tax money saved could be spent on reconstructing the damaged areas, I condem the decision to even hold the discussion.
For a Government to be threatening people with homelessness, as a punishment, is barbaric. We already have a legal system which has appropriate sentencing powers and that has proportionate punishments for this crime. Such sensationalist punishments, as this, are completely unnecessary and will only go toward further debasing of our value system.
The removal of legitimate means of support from people already pre-disposed to theft will only lead to an increase in theft, and the increase of any singular form of crime within an area, has been proved throughout history to lead to an increase in all forms of crime within that area. Unless, of course, something far far more sinister is underfoot...
Whilst I am not currently suggesting that this is being used for the following means, I hold no reservations that if it is, the UK ethical compass is vastly further off point than anyone could have previousely forseen. What I am refering to is the possibility of an attempt at a form of social engineering referred to as Gentrification.
Gentrification is the attempt to improve the affluence of an area by removal of its working and lower class residents. Simply put, the plan to evict people from public housing, if they have been charged with being involved with the riots, is strictly a punishment that applys only to those in public housing initiatives. For private home owners/renters (in other words those with enough capital to afford private residence) this punishment is negated as the Government holds no jurisdiction, in terms of the ability to evict, over private land. Furthermore, eviction is the most direct form of Gentrification as it literally is a way to repell people from an area. What compounds this further is that one of the areas included is London, The capital of The UK, where millions of people work and live. Gentrification on that scale would be comparable to an exodus and raises questions as to where this mass of people would end up residing. The historical answer to that question is rather grim as it reveals ghettoisation and settelments as being the most popular resolution and at this point we are now no longer discussing Gentrification, but Segregation. Not Segregation based on race or religion, but based on economic capital and wealth.
I sinserely hope that these discussions lead to the decision that removal of benefits is not a fitting punishment for non-custodial riot related crimes.