Capital punishment was formally abolished in the UK in 1969 but the last executions occurred in 1964 when Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans were hung – at the same time (in different prisons) - for murder.
Several death sentences had been handed down in the intervening period but the murderers had been reprieved.
Now the Guido Fawkes right-wing political website is hoping to use the Coalition’s new e-petition procedure to further the re-introduction of capital punishment for the murder of children and policemen killed in the line of duty.
The Government will begin publishing e-petitions on Thursday. It is intended that a threshold of around 100,000 signatures should command a Commons debate; which is, of course, a long way short of meaning a petition would ever become law.
I would be very surprised if the Fawkes initiative doesn’t garner the necessary support, although I'm not sure if similar pro-hanging petitions will be added together.
Similarly the Daily Express, which intends to hold an e-petition in favour of a referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU, will easily collect the required minimum.
It’s a smart move on the part of the Fawkes website to focus its campaign on just two categories even though there are probably millions who would like to see all convicted murderers go to the gallows.
The murder of a child is so terrible that society has the right to expect its justice system consider the need for retribution in punishing the foul deed.
Additionally while the life of a police officer is worth no more than any member of the public, if it is lost in protecting us we have a duty of care to others in the service to dissuade those that might do them harm.
I won’t be signing the e-petition; no society can call itself civilised if it sanctions the taking of human life. But hypocritical though it may be, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over the execution of a baby murderer or cop killer who I thought had been found guilty beyond all doubt.