Howard League Asks for a Change in the Handling of Problem Gambling Crimes

Following its two-year research on the relationship between problem gambling and crime, the Howard League for Penal Reform has asked the United Kingdom’s Criminal Justice System to revise its approach to crimes related to problem gambling.

The Howard League Deemed CJS’s Approach to be Suboptimal

Based on the experience of gambling crime victims, gambling firms, and law-keepers, the Howard League’s Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling concluded that the CJS doesn’t comprehend well enough the correlation between problem gambling and crime. According to the league, the system was not able to appropriately address the offenses and offenders.

“Crime related to problem gambling represents unplumbed depths of which the criminal justice system seems largely unaware,” Lord Goldsmith QC, the chairman of the commission, phrased it.

The CJS was critiqued for being too punitive in its approach. Instead of trying to treat gambling addicts or forewarn them with a fine, the justice system has preferred to handle such cases in a more severe approach. Furthermore, the Howard League pointed out that the CJS officers aren’t given a good example to follow when dealing with gambling harm and its related crimes.

The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling asked the Ministry of Justice to provide better training to legal practitioners who tackle problem gambling

What the Commission Proposes

The Howard League’s Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling asked for a change in the confiscation orders in 2002’s Proceeds of Crime Act. According to the commission, problem gamblers more often than not bet away their belongings instead of gaining new ones. Therefore, confiscation orders usually increase the harm to the problem gambler’s families. Moreover, the Howard League argued that problem gamblers whose belongings have been taken away are less like to get rehabilitated.

The Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling recommended that the UK Gambling Commission recoups any compensation from operators determined to be proceeds resulting from a failure of the operator to comply with social responsibility, customer care, and money laundering guidelines.

Lastly, the commission appealed to the Sentencing Council. The latter was asked to revise its sentencing guidelines in order to help courts better deal with crime caused by problem gambling.

“Prisons do not screen for signs of problem gambling when people arrive, and it would be up to individual probation practitioners to pick up on problem gambling from their caseload – with limited guidance to support the people they are supervising or to advise on what treatment services might be available locally,” Lord Goldsmith explained.

He added that not everything is grim and that there are still instances of good practices. However, there is a lot of work to be done before reducing the overall problem of gambling-related crime.

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