There were many aspects of the Jamie Bulger killing that I found entirely incomprehensible: from the video footage showing the boys leading Jamie out of the shops by the hand to what happened subsequently to the very idea that these two people could be released back into society. Surely, someone capable of such behaviour at such a young age could never be regarded as sane enough. People would wonder for decades how two young boys could be so completely dysfunctional as to do such a thing.
But seventeen years on, it’s a reflection of just how broken Britain actually has become that the current matter of discussion is what on earth Jon Venables could have done to merit being put back into gaol.
Jack Straw is being astoundingly coy about the whole thing:
As pressure grew for more information in the case of Jon Venables, the Justice Secretary insisted that it was in the public interest to withhold details of the breach of the terms of his release that prompted the recall.
But surely the inevitable consequence of not being forthcoming is that terrible speculation will follow?
There’s certainly no end of speculation going on in my mind! Or in the minds of others:
Among the conditions placed on Venables and Thompson when they were released were a ban on contacting each other or any member of the Bulger family and a prohibition on returning to Merseyside without written consent from their probation officers.
They were told that they could be sent to an adult prison if their behaviour deteriorated or they started using drugs and that if they were convicted of another crime they could face a life sentence.
So it could be something as trivial as him being caught with a small quantity of dried marjoram in his home, or he could have murdered another child. And given the leniency of the courts nowadays, it’s almost certainly closer to the “killing a child” end of the scale than it is to the “herbacious naughtiness” end of the scale.
But there’s another factor to consider, one which really made me wonder if I shouldn’t just leave now and never come back. What if Venables did something relatively trivial, but Jack Straw thought: “If we bang him up again, it makes us look tough on crime and that could be worth a few votes”?
Combined with the sabre-rattling from Argentina, it makes for a good headline, doesn’t it? Especially when Labour ministers are courting controversy by not releasing details about the reasons. It helps “create a media narrative”, doesn’t it? Can you imagine living in a country like that? Unfortunately, I can.
I don’t know what I find more horrifying: the idea that Venables and Thompson could be released in the first place or the idea that politicians could treat their subsequent liberty as something that could be sacrificed for a couple of days’ of headlines. Imagine feeling relief that they had “just” got the decision to release him wrong.
It is all just so completely wrong.