• Crime and punishment: Old problems, new thinking

Crime and punishment: Old problems, new thinking

Issue 1156

Crime and punishment: Old problems, new thinking

In this weeks issue…Denis MacShane served time over MP expenses fraud. Lord Ramsbotham is the retired army general who, on becoming Chief Inspector of Prisons, agitated for change. As the prison system faces big cuts, and a cry of tougher, ever tougher drives dog whistle politics around crime, we thought it’d be fascinating to get the two men together to consider what should change. The result is fascinating, the ideas and opinions bold. The interview was conducted in the Palace of Westminster, the first time Denis MacShane has returned since his conviction.

With a quick sidestep, we look at the paraphernalia of crime and we carry details of oddities including secret poison briefcases and the washbag that the Great Train Robbers took when they went on the lam. Guess what was in it…

Ahead of a festival of Nordic noir set for London we talk to Sofie Gråbøl, the doyenne of Danish crime dramas, about Britain’s ongoing obsession with Danish TV in particular.

Our Letter to My Younger Self is with one of Britain’s truly great film directors, John Boorman. He opens up about a difficult relationship with his father, about the time of opportunity and social change that clanged through the ’50s and ’60s and about the films he’s made that he’d most like to fix.

John Bird celebrates Grayson Perry, a man he says could be Britain’s greatest living artist. There is also a great anecdote about cross-dressers in late-night Earls Court cafes in the late ’60s.

As focus remains on Fifa and poor Sepp, a man focused on nothing except the good of humanity, we have a fascinating insight from Ben Smith on the other side of football. A former professional, Ben was let go by Arsenal as a junior and spent his career eking out a living in the lower leagues. He describes the life there, and what he sees that REALLY needs to be done to help football. It’s nothing to do with a power-struggle in Switzerland.

Our featured vendor this week is Darren Brown, who works by Sainsbury’s off Newport Road in Middlesborough. Such was his collapse that he was sleeping rough in bushes for two years. “My customers have changed my life,” he says. This week, he got the keys to the first ever place he can call his own home. Great story.

Also, Richard Herring reveals why he believes snooker can help us discover our true natures; and Steven MacKenzie talks to Shaun Williamson about forever more being known simply as Barry from Eastenders. Singing at the bowls features, briefly. That will mean more to some people than others.