In the week when the Prison Service was finally forced to ask the courts not to send any more prisoners a news story from The Accrington Observer deserves national attention because it reveals the true nature of the government’s witch hunt justice. You may be aware that in the eighteenth century women were accused of being guilty and found guilty of being accused.
A young man in Accrington will fight an on the spot fine for littering and is prepared to go to prison before he pays up.
The “on-the-spot fine” was handed out by one of the town’s community wardens. Under the summary justice system these clipboard wielding bureaucrats who are not police officers and have no powers of arrest, can hand out fines and demand immediate payment, backing up the demand with warnings that “if you choose to go to court the fine could be a lot bigger.”
Well I had no idea that the Sheriff of effing Nottingham was running the justice system but when I reveal the circumstances surrounding the case it is even more appalling.
The lad had been walking along the main shopping street drinking fruit juice from a carton when his mobile phone rang. Stepping towards the buildings so as not to obstruct people he put his drink down on the pavement while he fiddled with the phone. As he was answering the call, the warden stepped up and handed him the ticket. There was no request to pick up the carton and no warning that he might be about to commit an offence. He was still standing next to the carton so he had not actually committed an offence, it is not illegal (yet) to put one’s property down on the pavement and he had not moved away from his drink. The young man said he had no intention of leaving the carton, in fact after the incident he picked up the drink and finished it.
So where is the offence except in the eyes of a single minded bureaucrat whose only though is to hit a government imposed target for funds raised through arbitrary fines.
Yet the bureaucracy is so implacable that nobody has had the common sense to say “let’s quietly drop this one.”
If that is justice in Blair’s Britain, no wonder there is no respect for the law.