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.

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Friday, 19 June 2015


Depending on which statistics are perused drugs and alcohol are the root cause of "much", "many", "most" or even "overwhelming" instances of criminality. Leaving aside terminology and applying some old fashioned common sense young people under the influence of alcohol are a common sight on the streets in every village, town and city of this country. Since we`re not living in 19th century Ireland or the mountains of West Virginia we can be sure that the home brewed stuff is not under discussion and with the price of supermarket loss leaders uncle Patrick`s home brewed poteen or cousin Ethan`s moonshine couldn`t compete on price anyway.

One would assume that local councils` enforcement teams would do their utmost to stem the purchase by under 18s of alcohol. After all the same councils have to cope with the results of the drunken behaviour of their tax payers` children. When charges are laid against those who sell drink to juveniles the accused appear at Magistrates` Courts. If they are convicted by pleading guilty or being found guilty after trial they are usually fined. One would expect thousands of such cases to have been prosecuted and millions of pounds of fines to have been levied. After all excessive and early drinking is a major medical problem as well as a problem for the criminal justice system. But one would be mistaken.

A parliamentary answer a year ago by the then Under Secretary of State for Justice  Jeremy Wright  revealed amongst other facts that in 2013 in the whole of England & Wales there were only  128 convictions under s.146.   For the predeeding four years the convictions were:-

2009    331
2010    258
2011     194
2012     182
2013     128

The complete numbers of convictions under the Licensing Act 2003  in England and Wales, from 2009 to 2013 are here.

I think even the most myopic can discern that there is a pattern in these figures which are shocking beyond belief but my own experience bears them out. Every case prosecuted by councils is paid for by Council Tax and topped up by grants from central government as is all local expenditure. Even the mathematically illiterate can appreciate the term "cost effectiveness" even if its underlying premises are numerical gobblygook. Spend eg £1 to stop a drunken youth causing eg £20 of damage to him/hersef, others and the evironment must make sense economically, medically and socially. Oh were it so simple!


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