Confederation Report (October 2007)

The Great British public never fail to amaze me. In the past few weeks the horrors of gun crime horrifyingly at its zenith with the death of 11 year old Rhys Jones in Liverpool, have been the subject of innumerable TV and Radio phone-ins and newspaper articles. The usual clarion call for National Service, the Death Penalty and castration. We have rampant “hoodie” yobism, best illustrated by the reptilian actions of a hoodlum in Hartlepool who threw water over a dying disabled woman who was a neighbour, then squirted her with shaving foam then urinated on her, whilst his “friends” shouted encouragement, and no doubt filmed this vilest of acts on their pricey mobile phones. He then went with his “unter-mench” mates to a nightclub, to take still more drink and drugs. Happily he was arrested and now faces a term of imprisonment.

In the same month we hear reports of two teenage girls in Manchester aiming guns at passers-by in the City Centre, and in the same City two more teenage boys aiming an AK 47 Assault rifle at a taxi driver.

In the same paper that carried that last ghastliness we learn that despite 5,5 MILLION crimes being recorded in England and Wales, fewer than 700,000 offenders, one in eight, actually were taken to court. Many received cautions or fixed penalties, which unsurprisingly rose by over 15%.

Critics not unfairly accuse the Government of “fiddling the figures” to make it look as though they are winning the battle against Anti-social Behaviour.

But lets be honest, those of us working in the system know full well that the courts have got their hands tied. An ASBO is no deterrent. It’s a source of perverse pride and peer group acceptance for most yobs to get one. A bit like having a “chopper” bike when I were a lad.

And yet this same lame spin infested bunch are on course for another term of power.

We learnt this week, that the LSC is going to cancel all criminal contracts in January. This is because the High Court has agreed with the Law Society, that to impose changes to the current contract would be unlawful.

But they have the powers to scrap that contract and impose a new one. And that will last only six months so that competitive tendering can be introduced next year.

All of this is for one reason- reducing costs. Whilst the overworked and undermanned police forces are put under intolerable strain by a plethora of paperwork, keeping them from a) being on the streets to fight yobbism, and b) prevented by various safeguards from doing much to the little darlings when they do nab them, ordinary people are afraid to leave their homes, and those that do face up to the bullies are in danger of having a bullet in their heads or a knife stuck in their ribs.

Criminal Justice is a precious right. It needs a balance between prosecution and defence. IT COSTS MONEY And this pale imitation of a Government should scrap the Mega- Bureaucracies that their cronies inhabit and put the cash to use at the coal face.

I can tell Jack Straw how to save millions on Legal Aid in one stroke. Instead of having private interpreters charging far more than defence lawyers in the Magistrates and Crown Courts of this land, at each and every hearing of cases involving the thousands of legal and illegal immigrants who seem to be here for the sole purpose of claiming benefits and stealing , make them all join a public interpreters body, and pay them a sensible wage.

Our American cousins also amuse me. This week some oddball is commencing a court action against God. I don’t know on what grounds, but it prompted one cynical Brit to observe that poor old God had no chance of winning, because he wouldn’t be able to find a brief where he lives, since all the lawyers are in league with the devil.

Hang around for a few months chum. Shortly NO-ONE will be able to find a lawyer. We will all be HIPs inspectors telling you to get solar panels.

Whilst there seems to be an unending increase in lay folk who hate lawyers, these same ordinary guys all seem to have an insatiable appetite for the Law. Not only do they devour ghastly legal TV series, they love asking questions about high profile cases. If I had a pound for each time I have been asked by people about the Madeline McCann case I would probably be as rich as Jose Mourinho, exiting Chelsea with £25 mill of Abramovich’s small change jingling merrily in the back pocket of his tracksuit. Should be able to afford a Waitrose omlette now and then Special One!

The glee which so many greeted the announcement that Kate McCann had been made Aguido was quite ghoulish. The fact is that in such a case everyone close to the poor little mite is bound to be looked at closely. What is most concerning is the apparently inept procedures of the Portuguese police, who seem, at best, to have been pretty tardy on the uptake, and at worst highly adept at hiding their shortcomings by shifting tack onto the parents.

Whether the truth will ever come out is terribly unclear. The fact that belatedly, the Brit Police are involved, is at least something. But I can’t help thinking that to have indulged in all this “It must be the Parents” stuff has clouded the hunt for the little girl. Every new development revealed by the local police, seems to have a pretty obvious and innocent explanation. I wish they would keep a lid on all these “clues” until they have concrete facts to support them. Otherwise it’s a no-brainer that the McCanns could ever have a fair trial. Mind you, would you ever leave children so young in a foreign country without a babysitter, to go to dinner? Nobody will now I suspect.

Have you ever noticed that whenever something goes wrong, its like old age-doesn’t come alone. For instance, if you cut your finger you can bet your boots that you will be alone having to prise open an elastoplast that was designed by the inventor of the Acme unopenable safe. Or when you have a bad back you drop the shampoo in the shower. Or when you have a puncture five miles up a mountain and an equal amount of distance from the nearest habitation, at ten past midnight, in the rain, you discover that the last time your tyre burst you bunged the wheel in your boot, and never bothered to get it fixed, And that your mobile is out of charge or in an area whose airspace has never had the sniff of the Vodaphone satelite.

I’ve had one of those summers. That is if you can actually term the recently departed season, summer.

It started when my computer “crashed”. I did the usual “Man Thing”. Turned it off and on a couple of times. When that didn’t work, I pressed the help button. And whilst a very cuddly looking cartoon cat appeared, nothing else did. So I resorted to berating the darned thing with taunts about its microchips being less use than a chocolate tea-pot, then I hit it. Just like Basil Fawlty with his bit of tree smacking the living bejeesas out of his Morris 1100.

Since it is quite new I took it back to the shop, to be told that it was almost certainly the ultra-plasticized grommet on the inter spacial floobie, that sir will know operates the spectrometer. In other words bust. Power surge probably.

These things happen only once in a lifetime. Desperately bad luck. Would sir like to wait the six months for it to be assessed, costed and maybe repaired. Or would he like to fork out the £665.72p for the new one, which definitely won’t ever have that problem.

Oh, and doesn’t sir wish now that he’d paid the oh so reasonable £150 for the platinum “We’ll be round in a trice and have Cohn Computer as good as new in a jiffy” warranty. And they call

lawyers Bloodsuckers.

I left the thing with them to fix. Then of course within forty minutes, I had a phone call telling me the Notice of Appeal I’d stupidly sent from my PC to the Mags Court, had accidentally been erased, and could I send it again. Happily, since I am a distrusting Luddite, I had printed the notice off. So I said I’d put it in the post. But didn’t I realise that would mean I was out of time?

Cue quietly controlled argument about the fact that I had sent said e-mail and that was sufficient. Then “Don’t you tell me what Delivery means in legal terms Young Man”. And Finally” Right you totally unreasonable son of Genghis Khan, I’ll blooming well BRING it to you now”. (Slams phone down to make point).(Breaks phone in process). Stormed to car. Drove three miles before remembering that I hadn’t got Notice. Drove home. Collected Notice. Drove to court quickly. Hit kerb whilst parking. Delivered Appeal with two minutes to spare. Came out of court to find collision with kerb had punctured tyre. Looked in boot. Hadn’t repaired tyre from last puncture. Beat MYSELF with large chunk of nearby tree. Had left mobile at home. Rang AA, from nearest public pay phone(amazed they still have them. This one smelt

like a Victorian urinal. Are they multi-purpose nowadays?) with 2Op found after desperate search of glove box, to discover that I had not renewed membership. Had, of course forgotten wallet, so no credit cards. Walked home in rain. Only to discover that in haste and anger, had left house keys IN locked house. Son number one roiling in mud in Glastonbury. Son number two at party in London. Broke window. Cut hand in process. Found elastoplast. Bled copiously on carpet whilst trying to open hygenawrap “we’re thinking of your health” packet.

Total cost = new phone £35, New tyres £100, AA membership £50, Glazier £50. Oh, and computer repair £75.

How I would love to defray my expenditure on Her Maj’s Court Service. But of course I don’t have a Representation Order do I? Ah well. Back to doing the Euro Lottery. Until the next time. (Unless I win).

Simon Mumford

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