Friday, 12 August 2011

The Inequality Of Justice


Much has been written about the causes of the riots in England - a couple of examples are here and here - with a few brave souls blaming the initial inaction of the police. As I said previously I was alarmed when I saw television pictures of police inertly standing nearby observing a small group of youths breaking and entering a shop. It's now agreed that if the police had intervened on day one, the situation may never have developed well out of their control. Even now I'm still struggling with the Met's policy of non-intervention in such situations. It doesn't make sense a situation like this was never discussed between police and communities when the Policing By Consent policy was in consultation.

Billions are spent on police forces throughout the land to prepare them for emergency situations, yet when they're faced with one they do nothing.

Then, enter stage right, our useless leaders. David Cameron, suitably irritated because his sunshine holiday had been so rudely interrupted, announced the streets of London would be protected by 16,000 police on Tuesday night. It's gradually coming to light that a serious criminal element were responsible for the initial riots and the Prime Minister was gracious in the extreme to give them advanced warning.  On Wednesday the same man - still the Prime Minister - was 'shocked' to hear of riots spreading to other English cities.  What did he expect?  It's human nature people will copy the actions of others if they consider they will benefit in some way.  The criminals had been forewarned and were not stupid enough to repeat their actions on the London streets, but buoyed up by the inadequacy of the Met, it doesn't take a member of MI5 to realise they would quickly regroup in other cities.

Yesterday I was in the company of a couple of teenagers who have just left school.  One is going to university and the other is hoping for a college course which will help him attain better qualifications because, as he freely admitted, he'd wasted his years in senior school and only now realised his knowledge of basic education was too limited for him to gain work as a trainee motor mechanic. He was fortunate because a local garage was kind enough to allow him to shadow a mechanic for a few days and it became glaringly obvious on the first day that the lad's mathematical skills were completely inadequate.  He told me he'd felt 'gutted' when he was told not to return until he understood basic mathematics, because he could put a vehicle owner's life a risk quite easily.  I say he was fortunate because I believe the garage did him a great favour - not only by allowing him access but by showing him 'tough love' which he had obviously never experienced. 

The conversation included their opinions about the English looting and vandalism which neither condoned, although both asked me if I thought there was much of a difference between MPs and other politicians being able to claim for expensive televisions and furniture and people stealing similar items from vandalised shops.  They fully understood the differences I explained, yet both insisted it was theft. I couldn't disagree.

However, they were far more critical of the justice system. 'Sheriffs give out fines when they know they'll never be paid," one remarked strongly and "Community service is a joke. I have pals who never turn up and they get away with it."  

The youngsters I was talking with were in Scotland where we have our own justice system but their comments could also apply in England. Our justice systems are not suitable for today's society it would seem and yes, I have to agree that community service is, in many cases, poorly organised. Perhaps the Scottish government should think of a more effective programme which could offer character building and old-fashioned values as well as punishment for wrongdoing.  But when an 86 year old receives a sentence of six months and this offence receives a year (note he had accumulated personal savings of about £250,000), is it any wonder not only our youth think there's something seriously wrong with the justice system?

It's time those in the Scottish and English judiciaries started singing from the same hymn sheets, taking into account the variations in the systems. Changes should not be made in haste.  We should take great care.   

16 comments:

JRB said...

There is much of what has recently taken place that I do not fully understand…

I had always believed that one of the main responsibilities of the police was to intervene and apprehend whenever they saw a crime being committed. It appears that this is no longer so, such positive action being reserved for tired old alcoholics at a G20 protest or for disabled students in wheelchairs at a fees protest.

I had always believed that our police were equipped with a modern digital communications system. That information could be easily and instantaneously transmitted from officers on the ground back to a central control room. It now appears that such a system is no match against the likes of ‘twitter’ or ‘facebook’.

I had always believed that when police arrested an individual, that they did so on the assumption of innocence, until the law judged otherwise. Now they appear at a suspect’s door in full riot gear with an accompanying TV crew.

I had always believed that our government, like any sensible business, would never allow its entire senior staff to be on holiday at the same time. Not so with our ConDem government, some had to be reluctantly dragged back from their hols.

I had always believed that our Home Secretary worked hand in hand with the police. Not so, she claims that she "ordered that all special constables should be mobilised, all police leave should be cancelled and the robust tactics used…”
Whereas Sir Hugh Orde, head of ACPO, stated that "The fact that politicians chose to come back [from holiday] is an irrelevance … The more robust policing tactics you saw were not a function of political interference.”

As long as this current posturing of our senior politicians and senior police officers continues, we have to ask - is justice really being served?

George Laird said...

Hi Subrosa

I have put myself forward for selection as candidate for council, in my form I said I wanted to reform community service and get rid of the chain gang mentality currently used.

When they asked what do you want to be involved in I said public sector reform.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

subrosa said...

John, you put my thoughts far more eloquently than me. I too am completely confused.

As you say, today there have been dozens of police, dressed in riot gear, on our tvs battering down doors. What point is there in that when the goods are perhaps long gone and the businesses from which they were stolen destroyed.

It seems there's an intense power struggle between police and politicians and neither are in the least concerned with caring for the people of these islands.

No, justice isn't being served when we have judges who are sentencing so variably. If I recall you had one up your way (Dornoch) who was a bit of a rebel yet he got away with it for years.

subrosa said...

George, good luck. Do politicians want public sector reform though?

Joe Public said...

Another wise posting SR.

In answer to George, you state "Do politicians want public sector reform though?"

I suspect many (of the current crop of) politicians don't. But the public will now demand politicians who want public sector reform.

The public is paying the piper, so it'll call the tune.

Which is why Labour was booted out last year.

Anon said...

English riots - inside job.

- Aangirfan

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

August the 12th dear boy - we should be shooting the buggers! Bloody pheasants.

subrosa said...

I hope we debate this in Scotland Joe.

subrosa said...

Aangirfan, I've been reading your blog as always and was nodding to that particular post as it made sense.

subrosa said...

Oh Crinkly, the last time I had pheasant, I spent the evening picking shot out of it. Not a pleasant experience.

English Pensioner said...

JRB asks why the police didn't intervene more rapidly.
From my contacts, I gather that the reluctance of the police to take action stems for the G20 protest. Most police officers normally act in what they believe to be an appropriate manner at the time, although with hindsight other action might have been appropriate. This happens in all activities and policing is no exception (how many times have you been driving your car and made a manoeuvre which in hindsight was ill advised?).
Large numbers of police believe that the PC involved in the death at the G20 riot has been "stitched up" for political reasons and they are now reluctant to do anything which could place themselves in a similar position.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that explanation EP. It was disturbing to see tv pictures with small gangs of looters and a posse of police just standing watching. That's not protecting the law-abiding public.

Dark Lochnagar said...

Emigrate! The UK is a shitehole.


That is the sermon for tonight.

Brian said...

Rosie,
Perhaps Police were instructed not to charge, snatch and arrest rioters and looters because scarce coppers would then have been taken off the streets and back to the police stations to fill out the paperwork. The rioting and looting could have spread further if containmenet, such as it was, hadn't taken place. Perhaps mobile custody suites for rapid processing close to the disorder might help.

As for punishment and reform of criminals, they must be taken out of their neighbourhoods and comfort zones first before their characters can be fixed and remedial education provided. Sentences should be a minimum of two years in order to achieve anything.

subrosa said...

Thank you preacher. :)

subrosa said...

Aye Brian, that's a point.

As for sentencing. I wonder if prison is the answer. It could be that all they will learn is more about crime. Education needs to be addressed but in what environment?

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