The law needs a shake-up

Barbed wire and razor wire
Nope - can't use this

I’ve had a bit of a conversation on Twitter with John about this, but 140 letters at a time isn’t something that can do this subject justice. To start with the back-story:

Leah and I went out on Friday night. By the time we got back, some kids had got around the back of her flats (as they frequently do) and managed to smash the waste pipe coming down from the abck of the building. End result – **** all over the back area, flies all over, stench and no way we could use our bathrooms until it was repaired. At 10pm, no DIY places were open so short of a 24-hour (i.e. expensive) plumber, we were screwed.

These kids have caused damage in the past. The back window’s been broken more than once. Not just cracked, but completely smashed out of the frame. This lets them into the stairwell where they shelter and grafitti. And urinate. Rubbish is all over the back area. Bins have been set alight.

In all, not pleasant.

But what can we do about it? I asked the policewoman who came out to check the damage. The answer, effectively, is “bugger all”.

Go back thirty years and broken glass at the tops of walls was commonplace. I know we had it in the house I grew up. Forget it these days. Any prospective burglar or miscreant who cuts themselves will sue you. Same goes for burglar-proof paint, barbed wire or anything of that ilk. Hell, put a fence up and if they fall off it then you’re looking at a civil suit.

I can’t video them. Well, a CCTV camera only covering the communal area is fine. But as soon as said camera starts focussing on individuals then it’s a potential breach of the peace. Same goes for still photography. Hence we can’t identify them too closely and leave it to the police to go chasing them, even though these kids are known to them.

Apprehend them? Don’t be so stupid. If I lay a hand on one, then it’s potential assault. Detain them until the police arrive and it’s anlawful imprisonment or even kidnap. Don’t think of attempting to place someone under citizen’s arrest (even if you’re an off-duty peace officer) unless they’ve guilty of at least a serious assault or robbery.

Incidentally, the police are very unlikely to bring this fact up. However, should the little ****… I mean kid… or their parents complain then the police are obliged to caution you and the rest. You’re chancing it – decent parents will likely accept their kid has done wrong and be more interested in sorting them out. However, the kind of parents who let their 12 year old get pissed up and vandalise property on a regular basis are hardly likely to do this. They’re more likely to spot a chance to get someone else into trouble and possibly wangle some cash out of it.

Now, John’s responses to these points were that if you could withhold someone then anyone could grab anyone else and say that the detainee had damaged their property. The question you have to ask is why would anyone do this? Why catch someone who’s not guilty and detain them?

As things stand, all the police have to go on is your memory and a description of someone. They then have to locate that person, arrest them and get you to identify them. By that stage, the miscreant may have legged it, or at very least got a story sorted with a third party. Then it’s your word against theirs.

By catching them in the act and detaining them, you’re ensuring they can’t sort out an alibi, get rid of evidence or quite simply vanish. I appreciate that policing is the job of the police but as the law stands, right-minded citizens can’t even help them.

These are shining examples of the law being on entirely the wrong side, protecting the accused (not guilty – we still have due process to undergo) and making life incredibly difficult for the wronged.

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This Gerrard thing

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 24:  Liverpoo...

Anyone following the news in the UK, particularly the football side of things, will know that Steven Gerrard was arrested and then charged with assault over the last couple of days.Fine and dandy, this kind of thing happens. I don’t know the full story and I doubt anyone who wasn’t there does either.

However, Liverpool FC‘s statement that they’ll give him all the support he needs as he’s been good to them for 10 years does stick in the throat a little. If he’s guilty of beating crap out of someone for no other reason than he was drunk then why should he be treated any more differently than the likes of Joey Barton? OK, Barton’s a serial ****** with a history whereas Gerrard’s generally not in the papers for anything off the football field. But assault is assault.

Given the fact he’s been charged, I’d assume a plea of self defence has been written off which means he did cause one man to go to hospital with facial injuries. Many employers up and down the land -particularly those in the public eye – would be looking at a similar situation and thinking about how they could terminate his contract.

The world of football is different, however, as so much is invested in the individual. Is this fair? Sure they have to protect their investment but why should one person get away with damaging another just because – in essence – he’s rich?

Of course, even if he’s found guilty I expect nothing more than a slap on the wrist, perhaps a fine and maybe a community service order. There’s no way he’ll serve jail time. If Joey Barton can get away with all bar one of his efforts to cripple someone and Lee Bowyer can stamp on an Asian kid and walk free them Saint Gerrard is hardly going to do time.

Our justice system and class system really combine well to screw the common man over. I always thought everyone was meant to be equal in the eyes of the law, but I guess that’s just not the case if you have a ton of cash behind you.

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Advice for criminals

Are you a thieving scrote? A rapist? A murderer? Or just some dozy **** who broke one of the handful of laws in the UK that’ll get you into an actual jail these days? Well, in case you need some cash for fags so you can stop the Ugh Brothers ripping your tender arse-parts in two, how’s this for an idea:

Sue someone on the outside using public funds for something utterly mad. Let’s say… clearing out a flat you “vacated” eight months previous as you were thrown into chokey and didn’t bother to tell them. Despite the fact they are paying to keep your stuff in storage.

Which I know sounds bizarre, but that’s what repeat rapist Thomas Cope has just done to Melody Goymer, a hairdresser. Remember, this is the UK and your legal rights as a law-abiding citizen mean **** all. What’s his argument? The fact that under the current government he’ll be allowed out a week on Tuesday having served 1/16th of his sentence so he’ll need the rotten veg in his fridge?

He’s “won” £750. It’s looking to cost Ms Goymer around £20,000 in legal costs. And as I said, she’s paying £60 per week to store his belongings – she hadn’t even disposed of them. At first you wonder how this can happen… then you realise that it’s simply another example of the ******-up legal system in the UK. I think what’s worse than the fact that it happened is that it’s just not a surprise.

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My manifesto

Palace of Westminster in London

OK, we all say things like “If I was in charge…”, or “this government’s ****, because…” so here’s a run-down of my thoughts and what I’d do about it if anyone was stupid enough to vote for me. I doubt I’ll ever try to become an MP, mainly as I can’t be arsed with my private life being torn apart by the press, but it’s nice to have ideas.

1. Speed cameras. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely “anti” the things. I just think they should be better used, and nobody can get round the fact that a large number are simply revenue-generators that don’t have any effect on driving at all. I want transparency on these things. If they’re not somewhere that’s statistically an accident blackspot where the accidents were hugely speed-related, take them down. Recalibrate them to 20mph and pop them back up around schools and playgrounds to enforce the mandatory 20mph limit I’d enforce on such areas.

2. Human rights. I’d remove the UK from whatever Human Rights agreement we have and draft a new one. The essentials would be the same, but I’d insert some caveats which relate to some of the following points.

3. Personal protection. If you enter someone’s property without their permission, it’s a safe assumption you’re there to rob or harm them. As such, you have violated their rights as set out in the document I’d draft in section 2. And as such, you have forfeit your own rights. They can do that the hell they want to you with no fear of legal recourse. Club ’em, shoot ’em, beat them unconscious and call the police, bury them in the garden. I don’t care.

4. Arrest. On arrest, jail time in custody will be reasonable as far as comfort goes. Our law states – and will continue to state – that you’re innocent until proven otherwise. As such, you’ll be kept captive but in reasonable comfort. That is, no more than two to a cell; a fair amount of space to move; exercise; decent food; and so forth. Bail will be very hard to get as too many people on bail have screwed that one for you in the past. Sorry, deal with it. If convicted, you’re in the same situation as the guy in number 3. You’ve committed a crime, so your human rights are forfeit. You breach the rules, you pay the price. If the jails are packed, tough ****. Four to a cell. Five. Sharing beds. Crapping in buckets you have to clean out yourself. Don’t like it? Don’t commit a crime.

5. Jails. In fairness, there does come a point where physical limits cause problems. So if you’re in jail, expect to do some work… building a new one, if we need them. Learn how to plumb, build walls and so on for the next generation of scum.

6. Sentences. Life = life. 20 years = 20 years. A system may be worked out for prisoners showing exceptional effort to improve themselves. Rewards, personal freedoms and so on. The likes of entertainment, exercise, improved food, education… all will need to be earned not expected. Reductions in sentences likewise will be earned by the remarkable few.

7. Courts in favour of the innocent, not the guilty. Likewise the police. Do something wrong, expect to get punished for it. Act like a ****** in front of a policemen, expect to get led away by the ear or bashed on the head. Assault a policeman, expect to be taken into a dark room and have the **** kicked out of you. These people are there to protect you. Assault fire fighters, and your own home becomes blacklisted for protection. They’ll turn up and douse the adjoining houses, but yours will be left to burn. Any house insurance you have becomes null and void. Likewise for abusing health care staff – remember that thing about losing human rights? You go right to the bottom of the queue. In extreme cases, so does your whole household. If they have a problem with that they’re welcome to officially ostracise you.

8. Recompense. Miscarriages of justice do happen. In which case the innocent party should be refurbished with accommodation and a job similar to that when they went away. Education to bring them up to speed in their line of work (if relevant) provided. Compensation equal to lost earnings based on current income at time of conviction paid in full. And so forth. No charges for “rent” due to the cell space they took up, as seems to be current regulation.

9. No more excessive suing. Sorry, but it’s been abused far too much. If you can’t walk 100 yards without tripping over a paving stone, you can’t blame the council. Stay at home, you clumsy sod. Tripped over your own child in Tesco and thinking of suing them for your sprained wrist? Better idea – buy some books on parenting. All attempts to sue anyone will be looked over by a tightly controlled body. Anything remotely frivolous will be thrown back at you and you’ll be fined proportionately. Fair do’s suing a builder who signed off on your supporting wall which then collapsed and destroyed your kitchen – that was their fault. But if there’s a sign telling you not to touch something… and you do… and it hurts… that was your fault. We wouldn’t need big bloody fences if people like you would take responsibility for your own actions. Learn to.

10. Bye-bye benefits. There are jobs out there. Dole-scroungers are just too damn lazy to do them. I appreciate in some cases, taking a job can effectively cost money in the lost benefits as a person is now employed. However, I always thought that if you turned work down you lost your benefits anyway. Well, that’s how it would go under my rule. If you’re offered a job on minimum wage and turn it down, then you’ll be living in thin air. If other people can manage it, then you can. If you have to ditch your SkyPlus and cut down to 1 fag a week instead of 2 packs a day then deal with it. It’s called budgeting. Want more money? Work harder, learn more and get a better job.

11. Schools and the schooling system will be run by people with an educational background, not some tosser who thinks they know better. It’s a simple system of democracy and promotion. Start as a teacher, work up to head, regional overseer and cabinet position. The exact same for the police, health service, military defence of the nation and so forth. Isn’t it just common sense that the best person to oversee people is someone with hands-on experience?

12. Immigration. I heartily welcome people of other cultures and backgrounds. I don’t care if you’re rich or poor. All I ask is that you speak one of our national languages at least passably (and sensibly choose to live somewhere that understands you – moving to Glasgow and speaking Welsh is not much use to yourself or anyone else), are able to support yourself when you arrive and are prepared to work for a living. I don’t care if this involves sweeping streets or performing neurosurgery. Work, integrate, make friends, feel welcome.

I think that’s it for now. There are a few smaller points, and hopefully some benefits from the above that would become apparent over time. A reduction in bureaucracy would make the government more open and people would therefore trust them more. Improvements in police power and more severe (and likely) punishments would reduce crime. This would increase property prices and quality of life.

Then there’s the abolition of cash handouts to the chain-smoking dole-scrounging lot. Less cash out means more in the coffers. More workers = more income tax. Therefore tax could be reduced in other areas, such as on fuel or as VAT, or that ridiculous bloody inheritance tax. Frankly, I see it as the only way to get us out of this money “hole” the nation’s in at the moment. We just have to stop giving free cash out to people who don’t bloody deserve it. It’s simple, but we have to stop being soft on wasters who are taking is for a ride.

I’m also fully aware that it’s never as simple as having a list of things you want to do. Other people don’t agree (either because they have a valid point you didn’t think of or – more usually – they’re an idiot who just has to be awkward to keep themselves in a job) or things just don’t work out.

Thing is, I love my country. But in the last 30 years or so it’s gone to ****. And the only way to turn it around is to do something radical. Like step back a few years and use some bloody common sense. Is that too much to ask?