Archive for August 16th, 2006

The Lord Protector in his quest to be tough etc etc etc.. has produced more than 3000 new criminal offences during his reign over us – as The Independent points out – almost one new criminal offence for every day his government has been in power. Quite remarkable.

I feel particularly reassured by this particular crime being stamped down on..

Polish Potatoes (Notification) (England) Order 2004

No person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes.

What is it with ‘Polish’ potatoes? I shall have to do some research when I sip a Rioja later in the week.

Charon is now a planet: Official

One may be forgiven for taking the view that Charon may be ‘off the planet’ at times – but it was interesting to see the astronomers have finally decided that Charon is not Pluto’s moon, but a planet in its own right.  This knowledge will add to my enjoyment of life in the years remaining to me.

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In the Navy….

I know we have to pay for our new aircraft carrier and submarines somehow…but I can tell you, I almost spat my espresso out in surprise when I read in my Tabloid of choice this morning, that The Royal Navy plans to licence the White Ensign out for advertising purposes.

Navy publicity director Capt Brian Warren, who will vet items, said: “There will be nothing tacky, no weapons and no tobacco.”  The plan is that the Royal Navy will receive royalties of 5-20% of the proceeds.

I can just see one of the great fashion houses selling ‘Sailor Outfits’, snappy bell-bottoms – in fact, come to think of it, why not a full Admiral’s outfit by Karl Lagerlout (no relation)?  The White Ensign has a long and proud history and has, in fact, been used for some time to advertise various brands of ‘navy rum’ – so why should I be surprised?  Does it matter?

What about the SAS logo to market a particularly aggressive law firm – or personal injury service? Would that be tacky”   I can see it now.

“Had an accident at work?”  No problem.  Make an appointment to see one of our special force of solicitors and we will take the employer out.  Who dares sues..and wins”

I will splice the mainbrace tonight.



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Hippocratic oath…

Dr Christopher Wood, a GP, shot a neighbour’s dog 12 times with an air rifle after it attacked his chickens according to The Mirror this morning.

Why did he do this? The Mirror report is brief: “Dr Christopher Wood said he opened fire last August because he feared it would attack him or his two surviving hens.”

A vet reported that the dog had been subjected to a “prolonged and brutal attack… tantamount to torture.”

I really cannot understand how a doctor can behave in this way – yet the only sanction applied? A fine of £1500 and payment of £5k costs to the RSPCA. The dog, called ‘Socks’, survived.

Imagine consulting a lawyer who spent his time shooting air rifles at dogs. Would you want to take advice from such a person? Mind you… the prospect of lawyers keeping chickens is also a bit bizarre. Are there any chicken fanciers out there in the legal world? If so, would you have tried to shoot a dog with an air rifle to save your chickens ?

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I am grateful to Liadnan for inspiring me to look into the possibility that police officers will be dispensing instant justice on the streets of Britain.

The BBC reports : “The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) is consulting members on whether to seek the authority to punish people without going to court.”

While the BBC report indicates that the additional powers sought will mainly be to deal with pissed teenagers binge drinking it up at the weekends and drink drive offences, it is probably fair to say that ACPO would actually like fairly extensive powers to deal with a range of minor offences ‘there and then’.

“When you do decide that someone’s been so criminal and behaved so badly and harmed other people that you need to punish them, that really is something that in a democracy belongs with the courts,” Civil rights group Liberty director Shami Chakrabati told BBC News.

What was interesting was the view expressed by a Police Federation representative. Federation vice-chairman Alan Gordon said: “As usual, Acpo have decided to go public on an initiative without consulting with those who would have to implement it.

“There may be some credibility in these ideas, but our fears are it will cause greater conflict and bureaucracy for our members and could blur the lines of justice – whereby the police enforce the law and courts dispense penalties.”

Policing and the administration of justice should really be kept separate. While it may be seductive, in terms of administration and cost, to dispense justice through fixed penalty tickets – is this something which we really want our police to do?  Parking tickets and other fairly routine ‘civil misdemeanours’ can be dealt with in this way – subject to appeal procedures being in place – but civil disorder offences of a criminal nature should be dealt with by the courts – however costly that may be, to ensure that the lines between policing and administration of justice do not become blurred. I wonder how many police officers on the street want to take on the role of ‘punisher’?  I’m not a police officer, so I can’t actually answer that question.  But, common sense dictates that asking a police officer to police and then be judge, jury and executioner, is placing too much responsibility and power in the hands of an individual and is unlikely to work well in practice. It is important, in my view, to keep the objectivity of the current system where magistrates dispense justice and the police do the policing.

It would be intereting to hear from any police officers, magistrates or criminal lawyers who deal with these matters on a day to day basis.  Please feel free to comment.

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