Anorak News | Crime Pays

Crime Pays

by | 29th, September 2006

“OI, mate,” says the youth in the hoodie to the man on the ground. “What d’yer say yer pin number was?”

To one side of this modern street tableau, the police wait. They won’t go until they get their £100 cash.

The Home Office has drawn up a new set of ways to deal with miscreants. And, as the Times says on its front page, muggers will be punished by instant fines up to £100.

And it’s not just muggers who will waiting at the bank’s hole-in-the-wall machine. The paper says that the new proposals cover almost 30 offences. These include assault, threatening behaviour, assaulting police officers, drunkenness and being in possession of cannabis.

The fixed-penalty notices are nothing new. The police already posses the powers to issue tickets for such things as littering – which in itself may exasperate the problem it seeks to solve as the miscreant tosses the official censure to the floor.
But those are low-level public order offences, as the Times’s leader points out. The intention is to now include some more major offences.

And the idea is that processing such things quickly will allow 250,000 cases to be removed from courts. This will enable the judiciary to focus on really serious crime, like non-payment of parking tickets and chasing a fox on a horse.

And, predictably, the ideas are not universally popular. Cindy Barnett, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, says: “There are crimes that involve victims, and sometimes violence…They should not be dealt with by penalty notice. What kind of message does this send out?”

Perhaps a message that human beings can be treated like cars. And that, maybe, the next move is to create a congestion zone around precincts and town centres, demanding revellers pay a fiver to gain entry for a limited period?

Only drivers get treated more harshly than tomorrow’s muggers. As the Times says, it is unclear what the punishment for non-payment of a fixed-penalty notice for, say, extracting money with menaces or being drunk in public is.

The car driver will see his opening fine increased and, ultimately, his car or other goods seized by bailiffs.

How will the drunk be made to pay? And will he have any money left once the mugger has coughed up?

Posted: 29th, September 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink