It's easy put the mouth into gear before the brain engages, especially when you're trying to come up with populist claptrap, like our Chief Constable, Mike Craik, on Radio Newcastle yesterday.
He was discussing breaches of ASBOs. And it's clear from what he said he's no idea about either the history of ASBOs or the approach the courts adopt when they sentence those who breach the orders.
I'm not sure how much Northumbria Police spend on media relations, but before Craik entered the radio studio he should have been provided with the Sentencing Advisory Panel's consultation paper on breaches of ASBOs (pdf).
According to the BBC's report this man- and remember he's in charge of the Northumbria Police force-came out with this nonsense.
"Asbos were invented to be a last chance saloon - if you breach an order you should go inside."
The idea a custodial sentence MUST follow ANY breach of an ASBO may satisfy the hang 'em flog 'em brigade, but such an approach would remove any discretion from the court. It's just plain wrong both in principle and practice.
As Craik was discussing "youth disorder", these are the Sentence Advisory Panel's suggestions concerning sentencing youths for ASBO breaches.
(i) in most cases of breach by a young offender, the appropriate
sentence will be a community order;
(ii) the custody threshold should be set at a higher level than the
threshold applicable to adult offenders;
(iii) the custody threshold usually will be crossed where the breach
involved serious harassment, alarm or distress;
(iv) the custody threshold may also be crossed where there has been
a series of breaches involving a lesser degree of harassment,
alarm or distress; and
(v) where the court considers a custodial sentence to be
unavoidable, the starting point for sentencing should be four
months detention, with a range of up to 12 months. Where a
series of breaches has involved serious harassment, alarm or
distress, sentence may go beyond that range.
It would have been wiser for him to have read this before the microphone was switched on.