According to the news on my radio today there are calls to make the wearing of military decorations that have not been legitimately earned punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. Of course we must treat our old soldiers with dignity and respect their awards, but is this really a sensible use of the scarce and costly prison system?
Since I joined the Bench in 1985 the prison population has soared to its current 85,000 or so. Posing as a decorated old soldier is more sad than evil, and there is no tangible victim involved. Expose the perpetrators in their local paper for the pathetic poseurs that they are, but prison? No.
Musings and Snippets from a recently retired JP. I served for 31 years, mostly in west London. I was Chairman of my Bench for some years, and a member of the National Bench Chairmen's Forum All cases are based on real ones, but anonymised and composited. All opinions are those of one or more individuals. JPs swear to enforce the law of the land, whether or not they approve of it. Nothing on here constitutes legal advice.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
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Another knee jerk reaction to a problem that really doesn't exist. Any old soldier (or even someone who was never a soldier) needs some 'help'. I wouldn't even expose him in the local paper. If you do then even more ridicule from the trolls. Neither he nor the rest of us needs that.ReplyDelete
The other side of the coin is that those who have "stolen an honour", should be punished. They have devalued the effort and sacrifice that the rightful holders of these medals have earned.ReplyDelete
Also these "Walter Mitty" types tend to have other issues in telling huge lies about "what they did in the war", which can suck the innocent in.
I don't think it should result in jail, but by having that sanction, should remove more of these foolish people from our society.
The Sergeant Major says; Everyman thinks meanly of himself for never having been a soldier, that's Samuel Johnson gentlemen that is. In my experience it is rare that these Walter Mittys just parade themselves wearing un-earned decoration(s) telling unfeasible tales then go home. They very often receive benefits and access to which they are un-entitled, cause grief and prey on/fool the vulnerable. Most are poorly prepared, pathetic losers with outlandish stories but the harm is very real. Jail ? In most cases no, however there must be sanctions pour encourager les autres. Don't fret, I've never heard of anyone falsely claiming to be a JP.ReplyDelete
I must confess to rather ambivalent feelings towards people who try to pass themselves off as former servicepeople by wearing medals to which they are not entitled. I think you are right in the general point you make that there is an argument about proportionality when considering imprisonment as a potential punishment for these people.ReplyDelete
However, in recent years, a trend has developed amongst the families of former servicemen to wear their ancestor's medals on the right breast as an act of remembrance. I would think it a great loss if our leaden-handed legislators were to throw this particular baby out with the bathwater.
Sending people to prison for offences of this nature is just as sensible as sending people to prison for not paying their TV licence fee but in this case it's another example of politicians inventing legislation to be seen to be doing something popular, even though legislation already exists to punish those who gain financially from being a Walt.ReplyDelete
Whatever the defects in the character of the perpetrator, this is not per se someone that the public needs protection from.ReplyDelete
It is quite easy to spot these people, you can usually do it on Remembrance Sunday. They wear the medals in the wrong order or medals which were issued before they were born.ReplyDelete
I've not seen this before but even if it is made an offence punishable by imprisonment I can't believe that the minimum sentence will be custody. Is it really a sensible use of prison? At the lowest end no it isn't but if it's a repeat offender using them to gain a pecuniary advantage by fraud, it might be.ReplyDelete
I would be very wary of this sort of legislation, and not for reasons that might be immediately obvious. I happen to follow the stand-up comedy circuit around London, and on it there is presently a character act called "President Obonjo", a self-styled, Idi-Amin type African dictator, who performs in full military regalia, including medals, and who frequently remains in costume to and from gigs. He has occasionally invoked the ire of active servicemen who have been unaware of the nature of his act, but it would be a sad day indeed were his activities considered a criminal offence.ReplyDelete