Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Surprise There Then

The least surprising news of the week is that the chairman of the Police Federation has criticised the courts for going soft on crime. The Federation represents the lower-ranking front line officers and anyone who reads any of the multiplicity of police blogs will not be surprised at his view, especially as the fed conference is coming up. It is traditional at these functions to boo whichever unfortunate minister has been put up as a sacrificial lamb. I suppose that it is inevitable that in a hierarchical disciplined force the chance to be rude to your superiors is too good to miss, just as some who claim to be PCs like to be very rude about magistrates from behind the safety of a modem.
There are legitimate concerns about the management and supervision of some (but by no means all) community orders. We have all heard anecdotal evidence of slack supervision of some work projects, but in most cases offenders are swiftly returned to court after two unacceptable failures. The rules are tight, and sickness, for example, has to be backed up by a doctor's note.
It is of course nonsense that offenders can 'renegotiate' the terms of their orders. The quoted example of a woman who claims that she needs to wear high heels has been referred back to court, and the court has asked for medical evidence What's so awful about that? The other examples he quotes are not let-offs - all this suggests is that someone has spent too much time reading the tabloids without looking at the facts. Nobody can renegotiate an order, but any sensible system would allow a court to amend it when there is a good reason. Isn't that what courts are for?

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