Majority of Britons want return of death penalty

August 7th, 2011 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

David Cameron London, Aug 7 (IANS) A majority of British people support the return of death penalty, a survey has found. The last hangings in Britain were in 1964.

The study showed 53 percent of voters back reintroduction of the punishment, while a mere 34 percent opposed it.

The issue has risen up the political agenda again as a result of the e-petitions scheme, an initiative that allows the public to help set the government agenda, the Daily Mail reported Sunday.

If it attracts more than 100,000 signatures, MPs must consider debating it in the Commons, and the return of the death penalty heads the list of demands, with over 40 of the first 200 petitions calling for it.

The Survation poll reveals a striking gender divide over the issue: while 63 percent of men back the move, just 44 percent of women are in favour. A total of 1,000 people were interviewed Aug 5-6.

Asked which method they preferred - regardless of their views on the ethics of the issue - an overwhelming 66 percent opted for lethal injection, which is widely assumed to be the most humane technique. Only 12 percent still think that hanging should be used, the Mail said.

Forty-eight percent of those asked believe murders and other serious offences would go down if the death penalty were reintroduced, while 32 percent think the level would stay the same.

Mass murder, child murder, terrorism and war crimes are the main offences deemed deserving of the “ultimate sanction”.

The survey also reveals that the death penalty is more popular among older people than the young. An overwhelming majority of the participants in the study, 82 percent, believe that the current justice system is too lenient.

Although MPs are unlikely to vote through the restoration of the penalty - in 1998 it was rejected by 158 votes - Commons leader George Young said last week that Westminster could not afford to ignore the issue.

Priti Patel, the Tory MP for Witham in Essex, is leading calls from within the Commons for a debate, according to the Mail.

Prime Minister David Cameron is opposed to the move on the grounds that there have been too many miscarriages of justice, and it is an inappropriate sanction to be levelled by a ‘civilised society’.

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