Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cautionary Tale (2)

This letter to The Times tells the story of a respectable citizen being subjected to what appears to have been a gross overreaction by police officers. The writer says:-
After nearly four hours of processing and questioning I cheerfully admitted the “offence” in order to terminate this tedious ordeal, get back to Waterloo and resume my journey to Paris. Having signed the necessary forms, I was released on caution.
This points up the inherent danger of so-called pre-court diversion, a policy which the Government is enthusiastically expanding. In order to get on with his journey the man concerned has accepted his guilt, and now has a record on the Police computer to that effect. His DNA fingerprints and photographs are now on file. Since the offence was connected with taking so-called offensive weapons on to a train he may face some tough questioning next time that he wants to enter the USA.
If a respectable and articulate retired Brigadier can be bounced into an admission of non-existent guilt by a desire to get out of the police station, how much more likely is it that a not-too-bright 18 year-old will do the same? Any bench that I can imagine would have given this case short shrift - indeed I rather doubt whether the CPS would have let it get near the court.
Courts are not just there to punish - they are also there to protect the citizen from oppression. In this case they were not given the opportunity to do so.

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