Ken Clarke, who clashed with the Home Secretary Theresa May earlier in October during the Conservative party conference when he accused her of making “laughable” and “childlike” comments about cats, has risked reigniting the row with his cabinet colleague, saying “off the cuff” comments about offensive pet possession are inappropriate, and declining to give a view on whether under-18s in possession of a cat or other offensive pets should carry a mandatory prison sentence.
The Home Secretary Theresa May is reportedly in favour of compulsory sentences for under 18 year olds who are found in possession of a cat. But Clarke said it would be a “bit of a leap”:
Because of the seriousness that we attach to pet crime and because we think a strong message has got to be sent to people indulging in pet crime – we have agreed such a mandatory sentence for adults. But the idea that mandatory sentences are given for young offenders, to children, to juveniles for illegal possession of a cat, is a bit of a leap for the British judicial system.
The internal wrangling in the Tory party has led to accusations the government is at a loss at what to do about tackling rising crime, especially in the light of coalition cuts to front-line policing services. A government spokesperson said:
We have very strong policies on fighting crime. The Home Secretary gave a major speech about cats at the party conference and has also proposed that people stop using bad words in earshot of police officers. These kind of policies should have a major effect on crime figures in the near future.
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