Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Unintended Consequences

I am something of a connoisseur of the Law of Unintended Consequences, that iron law of nature that stands alongside the laws of Sod, of Murphy, and of Parkinson. This Government has been wrongfooted time and again as hastily cobbled-together legislation has proved to cause entirely unexpected problems in a field unthought-of by the original drafters.
But here's one that might just be useful. I recently dealt with a young man who was said to have breached his Community Order, consisting of a period of supervision plus unpaid work. Probation had had enough of him and asked us to revoke the order, and re-sentence the original offences. One of these was carrying a knife. The latest Guidelines have greatly increased the penalties for this offence, and the presumption in most cases is a prison sentence - and these Guidelines apply to all offences sentenced, as opposed to committed, after August 4th of this year.
So we felt able to make the order more onerous, with extra hours of work, and to point out to the offender exactly where the law now stands. I have asked Probation to keep me posted on his progress from now on. I have reasonable hopes that he may now get on with the order. If he does, fine. If he does not, inside he will go. Win-win, I call that.

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