The side effects of the last decade's Press panics about crime and criminals have not just been to scare old ladies to cower under their duvets, but to invest the criminal classes with an almost supernatural power to offend and to get away with it. In fact most of the run-of-the-mill defendants who pass in front of my bench fall into the categories of: Drug addicts, mentally ill, socially crippled (eg the appalling number of offenders coming from so-called Council Care) ill-educated unemployables, the terminally attitude-challenged, and the unlucky. The simply vicious and psychopathic are there all right, but in relatively small numbers.
The common thread that runs through most of the cases I deal with is good old fashioned stupidity, such as:-
Man parks car. Traffic warden approaches to issue ticket. "Don't do that" orders man. "Sorry, have to do it" says warden. Man threatens then attacks warden with weapon. Warden retreats and calls police. Police are updated in real time by operators of high resolution state-of-the-art CCTV. Man arrested. Man's car turns out to contain dealer-type amounts of Class A. Man's house searched. Lots more drugs, scales and other paraphenalia present. And a sawn-off shotgun.
Bottom line:- a £60 parking ticket turns into a potential eight year prison sentence. Clever? I don't think so.
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