Archive for November 27th, 2008

‘Summary justice’ soars as courts bypassed

The Times reports: ” Out-of-court punishments accounted for more than half of all offences dealt with by the criminal justice system last year, according to figures published today. The rise of summary justice at the expense of formal court hearings in courts is worrying both magistrates and judges who fear it is making a mockery of justice.”

While I plan to address this question rather more sensibly in Insite Law tomorrow morning – I thought I would cover the point as I see it rather less sensibly – but with a degree of raw honesty – here tonight. I am not surprised that magistrates and judges are worried about the rise of summary justice.  Summary justice can be a very dangerous tool in unskilled hands.

The Labour government over the past ten years has created more new laws than any government in British history.  That burning at the stake for littering  has not been brought in is, quite possibly, an oversight at the Ministry of Justice and Revenue Generation.

I am a fan of good, moderate, proportionate, sensible policing.  Most people are and properly trained police officers, policing with ‘consent’ do a pretty good job overall.  Yes… there are problems  with some Police officers but these tend to be high profile incidents and are investigated thoroughly. In the great scheme of things and daily operational life there are not that many serious breaches of law or procedure by police officers.

Unfortunately, we now have many more offences, a boatload of organisations with power to do this and that, to levy fixed penalties and regulate our lives and….  we have the Police Community Support Officers. I watch them shambling down the High Street each morning – resolutely searching for another caff to have another bun, knowing that they would not be able to deal with any serious crime or disaster should one arise. What is the point of them?  Would you want a relatively untrained PCSO assisting you in a bad car crash?  I wouldn’t.  I’d want a highly trained and experienced cop, even better a specialist traffic cop,  and a paramedic on scene.

We have fixed penalties for speeding, for parking infringements, for littering, for not putting our dustbins out on the approved day in the approved  way – and so on and so forth. We were even threatened with ‘Smoking Police’  when the smoking ban came in. There are cameras everywhere recording our transgressions – and these cameras provide the evidence for yet more minor offence infringement notices and fines.  Meanwhile the bankers and politicians have brought this country to its knees and crime will, as sure as night  follows day, rise in time of economic hardship, poverty and unemployment.  This time, of course, the crimes may well be rather more serious than  minor speeding, littering or failing to put the dustbin out on the approved day in the approved manner.

It is getting out of control and while it may be attractive to a government to have these highly efficient revenues and provide work for filing clerks and bailiffs – there will come a time when this type of justice will so irritate that it will become counter productive and lead to revolt – revolt through the ballot box in our case.


There are many pleasures to be had living on a boat. One is that I don’t have Fuckwits from the Police Community Support Service turning up on my door to tell me to cut my hedge because a criminal could hide behind it.

Right… I feel better.  Please feel free to have a RANT in my comments section. If you would like to get roaring drunk before you do post – bookmark this post and  come back.  I shall only edit comments if they are likely to result in me being issued with a fixed penalty notice!  Enjoy….

Editorial note:  I am quite aware that this is (a) a rant (b) irrational rambling and (c) fails to address the issue sensibly.

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