Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Thursday, 10 October 2013
RE - ARRANGE DECKCHAIRS AND IGNORE SINKING; AKA DRINKING BANNING ORDERS
Under the Labour administration of 1997 – 2010 we have had introduced over three thousand new laws; Police Community Support Officers, revamped traffic wardens with powers to issue penalty notices in addition to parking tickets, ASBOs which are civil orders the breach of which can lead to lengthy custodial sentences are some examples.
Since 21/08/2009 Magistrates` and County Courts have had the power to make Drinking Banning Orders. DBOs on conviction came into force on 1st April 2010 in 25 Local Justice Areas. Latest available figures are that a total of only 625 DBOs was issued to 31st December 2011. It has been recognised by many statistical analyses that around 70% of all crime is committed by offenders addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Considering that many more individuals are addicted to the former rather than the latter the number of alcoholics with a criminal record must number in the millions. The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence. The miniscule number of DBOs ......a single order per day for England & Wales is an indication that magistrates` courts have more sense than the government which introduced them. All they do is disperse the problem elsewhere. Indeed it is just another reason why alcoholic offenders should be treated as medical cases and if necessary by compulsion just as schizophrenic and other mentally unstable patients can, under certain circumstances, be forcibly incarcerated in places of safety for themselves and the general public who must be protected. Hardly a week goes by without headline stories of the havoc wreaked by such people who are supposed to be being “cared for in the community” but are walking the streets.
And yet the new publicity seekers within the law `n order brigade, Police and Crime Commissioners, still consider that shouting louder makes for understanding. The latest of these loudmouths making a noise is Adam Simmonds P.C.C. for Northamptonshire whose local online media have spread his hope that magistrates inter alia will increase their use of Drink Banning Orders. The object of his wrath was an individual who was sentenced to such a disposal at the local crown court by an order banning him from entering any pub, club or bar in Northamptonshire. He is being set up to fail. It is not reported whether or not any ancillary orders were made.
Public drunkenness is now a regular and frequent feature of high streets from Andover to Yarmouth. Where it can be controlled as on public transport or at sporting events it has brought a metaphorical breath of fresh air to the vast crowds who use or attend these places. But on our streets it seems the ubiquitous DBO is being applied like a Band Aid to a bullet wound. Such orders IMHO are a complete waste of time and resource. Invariably those subject to such orders can without much forethought figure out how to evade them. Breaches cannot be punished by a custodial sentence. All they do is displace the problem drinker from one area to another. If ever legislation is seen to be like moving the chairs on the deck of the Titanic DBOs are a prime example.