Keeping Sherwood Safe

A personal message from the Home Secretary, Rt Hon. Jacqui Smith MP

The government is taking very seriously the report we commissioned from Dr Julian Luxford into the notorious criminal known as "Robin Hood". As most people are aware, this Hood and his accomplices have for several years been responsible for outbreaks of robbery, violence and anti-social behaviour not just in Sherwood but in several other law-abiding areas of England. This Labour government, unlike the Tories, is determined to do something about it.

It is true that Hood has, until now, managed to evade capture. Indeed, on more than one occasion he has escaped from Nottingham castle. The last time this happened, I ordered security to be tightened at the facility, and I am confident that it will not happen again. Lessons have been learned.

Contrary to mischevious reports in some sections of the media, there is no evidence of any failings on the part of the Sheriff personally. On the contrary, he is doing an excellent job, and deserves our full support in the vital task of keeping the people of Nottingham safe.

As Home Secretary my number one priority is to ensure that people can get on with their lives feeling safe and without fear. When newspapers are filled with alarmist reports about the activities of the Hood gang this task is made more difficult. I would therefore call upon journalists and others in the media to be more responsible. The undue publicity given to one small group should not detract from the substantial progress that we have made in reducing the overall crime rate in Nottinghamshire, and, indeed, throughout the country.

Worse still is the sympathetic coverage that has been given to this reprobate in some quarters. There was even a TV series recently which portrayed him in a positive light. Glamorising violence and criminality in this manner is highly irresponsible, and can only undermine the efforts of government, the police and many ordinary people in the community who are doing their best to apprehend this man.

Let us be completely clear about this: "Robin Hood" is not a popular hero, he is an anti-social menace.

His attempts to evade detection by wearing a hood are particularly disreputable. It's not "cool", it's not daring, it's pathetic and cowardly. That he should have been forced to hide in the shadows in such a manner is, however, testimony to the success of Nottingham's high visibility policing. My message to Mr Hood today is simple: you can't hide forever.

We know that the ordinary, hard-working families of the Nottingham area are fed up with their lives being made more difficult by this gang. There are however, practical measures that we can take to reduce the danger to the public and we are determined to do so. That is why we are legislating to give more powers to the local Sheriff's department.

We have already increased the penalties for possession of longbows, crossbows and other lethal weapons. Only the authorities of law and order, who have the proper training, should be trusted to use such devices in the public interest.

Today I am announcing a new strategic Outlaw Prevention programme which we will be rolling out across the country, beginning in Nottingham. This will include:

- New powers for the Sheriff and his officers to stop and search peasants for pikes, clubs, maces and other offensive weapons, coupled with stiffer penalties for unlawful possession of such materials.

- New restrictions on the sale of "Lincoln green" fabric dye, which has been shown to aid outlaws seeking to evade arrest.

- Stricter regulation of all sales and financial transactions to ensure stolen goods are not finding their way into the wrong hands. Already a substantial quantity of silver has been recovered from a number of sites associated with Hood, but these efforts must be, and will be, stepped up.

- Closer monitoring of forest clearings and other public spaces which have been linked to the grooming and recruitment of new outlaws. The security services are working on a new state-of-the-art network of listening posts and we will be investing heavily in this vital infrastructure

- Efforts to tackle the culture of secrecy which enables outlawry to thrive. We want to see better co-ordination with community leaders, especially with priests, monks and other clergy. There are fears that some may not be coming forward with information which might be useful to the authorities, out of misplaced pastoral concern or belief in the secrecy of confession. This must stop. We are also alarmed to hear of the activities of "radical preachers", such as the notorious Friar Tuck, whose perverted reading of the Gospel gives legitimacy to this criminal behaviour. I have therefore convened a special task-force of moderate bishops to draw up new guidelines for church leaders throughout the Sherwood area.

This is not a time for complacency or for doing things cautiously. It is time for bold leadership and action to respond more effectively to what the public are telling us matters to them and to win back trust. With your help, together we can put "Robin" in a more permanent "hood". Thank you.


valdemar said…
It's worse than that, Jacqui - boys round our way thinks tights are cool.
Anonymous said…
I wondered what all the CCTV on the Major Oak was for :-)
Edwin Moore said…
No reference to Will Scarlett alas - where is the outreach to the gay outlaw community?
Unknown said…
And no mention of his scandalous grooming of young maids. Think of the children!
valdemar said…
Still, it's not all bad news - I understand Little John has turned into a right-wing newspaper columnist.

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