Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Wonder What My Chances Are?

The Prime Minister made a speech about crime about ten days ago:-
Mr Blair claimed that under the criminal justice system, in theory, the police charged the accused, the prosecutor prosecuted and the court decided the outcome, but that was not what happened in reality. "In practice, the person who spits at an old lady on her way to the shops is not prosecuted because to do so takes many police hours, much resource and if all that is overcome, the outcome is a fine. The result is the police do not think it is worth it; and so it doesn't happen."
That seemed a bit odd to me, so I have just looked up the sentencing guidelines in my Bench Book. Spitting is Common Assault. The guideline is a community penalty. Among the potentially aggravating features listed are “spitting”, and “victim particularly vulnerable”. The outcome is therefore unlikely to be a fine, but rather a community sentence and a bit of compensation for the old lady. Perhaps if the PM spent a bit less time hobnobbing with coppers prosecutors and Home Office advisers and talked to one or two magistrates he might be able to form a more balanced view.
I don’t live too far from Chequers, and I am usually free for Sunday lunch. The email’s in my profile. No need to fuss, no special dietary needs or anything.

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