it IS very hard to be dispassionate when the subject at hand is Peter Sutcliffe – and the future of the Yorkshire Ripper who murdered 13 women, and attempted to kill another seven victims, during a reign of terror which still haunts Leeds four decades later.
Even though the courts have ruled that this evil monster, who now goes by the name of Peter Coonan, will never be freed because of his depravity, the decision now is whether Sutcliffe, now 70, should remain at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital or be transferred to a mainstream prison.
With a mental health tribunal ruling that Sutcliffe is well enough to make the move – the mass murderer was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1984 – the matter now rests with Elizabeth Truss, the new Justice Secretary. She has to take account of a number of factors, not least the fact that it costs approximately six times more to keep inmates at Broadmoor and the cost implications of protecting Sutcliffe from other inmates if moved to a Category A jail.
In an era of mass litigation when criminals do not hesitate to exercise their human rights – the rights they denied to their helpless victims – the public interest demands that Ms Truss considers this case on its merits and treats Sutcliffe no differently to any other prisoner detained for life because of the wickedness of their inhumanity.