Sunday, 31 July 2011

Harp-ing on again.

I have been watching with some interest the developing story about Ben and Kelly Harp of Harp Narrow-Boats. It is a heart chilling story that is being recounted step by step by the owners of Narrowboat Waiouru. It is also at the same time a damning indictment of the British system of justice. A system that runs under closed shop rules, is still operating in a 18th century time warp. If you had a time machine and brought back an advocate or judge from 200 years ago, they would not feel out of place today.

The sheer stupidity of maintaining a system of law that holds back the speedy implementation justice beggars belief. A system that is used by the guilty to defer and delay the outcome with total impunity. A self policed and archaic system of role playing where the delivery of justice is apparently a side issue.

For years I worked in a University where "dressing up" in academic regalia was only used for graduation. The University had moved with the times. Modernising everything including teaching methods and the dress code for staff.

The law in the UK proceeds in the way it always has, at a funeral pace. Yes I know, there have been changes to try and improve matters. But the improvements are not as tangible as you might think, expect or want. Some countries have modernised their systems root and branch and have night courts so that access to justice is a 24 hour fast track process. The UK has done away with the flea powder for wigs!

There is a second problem, where rights of the complainant go right out of the window. This is on access to legal aid. The Harps as defendants will get it no problem. The complainant will not get it at all. They will have to hope that their considerable costs will be met by the defendants. There is no real justice in such a system and there is no will in the system for change. This is, because of the money made by the lower practitioners and big wigs in the judiciary at all levels and the reverse kudos of not being elevated if they rock the boat.

You can bet your life that the "rights" of the defendant will be observed at all times. I'm not so sure about the rights of the complainant. Do I believe that justice will be seen to be done, in a word no. The reason is because the act of a public birching and flogging has been abolished.

Traditionally, the birches were soaked in brine before use, which greatly increased the weight, flexibility and strength of the twigs, making the punishment more severe both in terms of pain, and in terms of damage to the victim's flesh in the form of cuts and weals. Re-offending rates for those who were subjected to such punishment was remarkably low. 

Today an ASBO is almost a requirement and a badge of honour for any self respecting street urchin. There are other sanctions that include reprimands. (if you do that again you will get another reprimand)  fixed penalty fines (that you can now pay online so no need to get out of bed) and restorative justice projects (like being a pressed version of a BW volunteer).

In the UK birching as a judicial penalty, was abolished in 1948, although it was retained until 1962 as a punishment for violent breaches of prison discipline. Maybe we should have a time machine that would let today's miscreants be transported back to a time when the punishment would fit the crime. We could of course set up an arrangement to hand off justice to the Saudi government for implementation. 
Justice in the UK today is a politically correct process, protecting the rights of miscreants and intended to placate the Hyacinth Bucket do-gooders in our society. 


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