Thursday, October 26, 2006

On The Spot

"On-The-Spot" fines are in the news again, twice in one day. Firstly, and most absurdly, the dreaded hordes of Roumanian and Bulgarian workers who are expected to flood our shores next year will face an on the spot fine of £1000 if they work illegally - and most of them will not be allowed to work legally, unlike the Poles and others who are already here. Of course the fines won't really be on the spot, that is just a catchy phrase to please the tabloids. In reality the fines will be all but impossible to enforce - imposing them on a group who are by definition unregulated and amorphous will be like trying to catch water in a sieve.

Secondly, local councils will be given greater powers to make byelaws and to enforce them with - you guessed it - fixed penalties. Justice will require that there be a right of appeal, and we shall see what that throws up. I wonder what the trade unions will have to say about council employees being asked to dish out penalty notices, unsupported by any right to detain or by any training in the sort of work that should really be done by a constable?

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