In its explanation of the policy behind its sentencing advice to the Court of Appeal for racially aggravated offences, the Sentencing Advisory Panel, it was stated that the Government "recognises that racist crime does not simply injure the victim or their property, it affects the whole family and it erodes the standards of decency of the wider community. Trust and understanding built up over many years between communities can be eroded by the climate of fear and anxiety which can surround a racist incident".
Whilst I agree with this sentiment, I dislike the impact of these guidelines, which although were designed to address the evil of racist motives, have the unintended consequence of according greater value to some lives than to others, by imposing harsher sentences on some criminals because of their attitude towards their victim. Similarly, I disagree with those people who, in the wake of WPC Sharon Beshenivsky's murder, called for harsher sentences for murderers who killed police officers than for murderers who killed "ordinary" citizens.
After all, surely all life is precious and therefore all criminals who harm others should be severely punished. If we continue further down the road of awarding differential sentences according to the status of the victim, where do we stop?