Look At It This Way - May 4, 2012

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THE best campaigns are those that spring from the heart.

They are not motivated by self interest.

Often it’s too late for that.

They come from the desire to ensure it never ever happens again.

Of course it will. But where there’s a will there’s a way to safeguard others – or at the very least make those who trample over our peace of mind accountable for the actions of those they choose to release.

Take the parents of murdered Blackpool nurse Jane Clough, 26, stabbed to death by her former partner while he was on bail charged with sex offences against her.

John and Penny Clough have finally won a change in the law.

Other people will be safer as a result of victory in the Gazette-backed Justice for Jane battle.

The long overdue amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill – which was granted royal assent this week – means prosecutors can appeal to a High Court judge on any crown court decision to release suspected serious offenders on bail.

It’s a loophole which has stitched up too many innocent people, and left far too many vulnerable to predators who have been freed to play out the last sick act of inhumanity against those they claimed to once love – or others targeted for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s a loophole the legal system should have closed long ago.

Instead innocent people – whether victims of those released on bail to reoffend or strangers to the dangers still stalking the streets – slipped through society’s safety nets.

They say the greatest journeys begin with one small step.

That step was taken when John and Penny, grieving the death of their daughter after a murder they had feared, indeed warned, might happen, decreed – enough is enough. No more.

Not on our watch.

Their daughter died at the hands of a man who had been charged with nine counts of rape, three assaults and one sexual assault against her.

Yet a judge deemed it appropriate to release him on bail.

Who judges the judges? Who holds them accountable when the sins of those they release come back to haunt them? (At least the police have procedures in place – as we have seen again this week – to deal with unacceptable ineptitude and errors.)

Well, as things stand, the answer’s clear. It’s not the system. It’s the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters of those dead or defiled or injured who demand a better deal.

It’s the ordinary people who hold their heads high and are not intimidated by authority or expect others to do the lobbying for them.

Instead they become the collective conscience of the community and prick the pomposity of those who really should know better.

John and Penny know they won’t save everyone. But they will save some. Correction: Jane will save some.

As the nurse’s dad so poignantly put it: “Jane can go on saving lives, just as she did in life.”