Saturday, February 03, 2007

Vigilante Justice

Is this what you want?

Tyler has a friend who believes vigilante justice is set to become the Next Big Thing.

You probably know how it goes:

  • Our official criminal justice system is letting down the ordinary law-abiding majority.
  • The crime we actually worry about- especially violent crime and anti-social behaviour- is soaring, the police are never there when they're needed, detection rates are plummeting, penalties are pathetic, judges are a bunch of Hampstead bleeding hearts, criminals get more help than victims, politicos routinely lie and prevaricate, and as we all now realise, the Home Office is in terminal melt-down.
  • To cap it all, our magnificent first-past-the-post elective dictatorship means we have virtually no traction over any of it.
  • The only viable option is Vigilante Justice, to short circuit the whole dysfunctional not fit for purpose mess.

Tyler has always taken this line with a large shovel of salt. But then you read a story like this and you do wonder:

"A judge refused to jail a convicted paedophile for another offence and ordered him to pay his latest victim, a six-year-old girl, enough money to buy a new bicycle to cheer herself up.

Relatives reacted angrily as Judge Julian Hall imposed a suspended sentence on Eric Cole, 71, who had previously been imprisoned for abusing a 12-year-old child.

The judge told Cole to pay the girl £250 compensation, saying: “If it buys her a nice new bicycle, that’s the sort of thing that might cheer her up.” He added: “In criminal terms, what you did was quite mild but the effects were serious.”

Quite mild.

"Alan Maines, for the prosecution, had told Oxford Crown Court that the girl's mother had caught Cole in her garden in the Barton area of Oxford in July last year. “Cole was holding her waistband and was pushing his hands down her trousers.”

What planet is Judge Julian Hall on? A serial child sex offender loose in your back garden pushing his hands down your six-year old daughter's trousers? Clearly it could have got much worse if mum hadn't intervened, but "quite mild"?

Judge Hall told Cole: "If you are not to do this sort of thing again, then you need help. The greater chance of children being protected from you in the long term is a Sexual Offenders’ Prevention Order. I want to keep you away from small children.”

Duh... surely the best way- the only sure way- of keeping this pervert away from children is to lock him away.

As for "helping" him, the guy's 71 for God's sake: even if we wanted to, there is simply no way of helping him. And according to most informed analysis- including for example, the NSPCC's- you cannot reform paedophiles. It's just the way they are, and they will always be a risk to children.

The Judge went on:

"I am convinced in my own mind this is the best way to protect girls under 16 from the hands of this man."

A parallel universe.

But the citizens of Oxford have snapped. A message on the Oxford Mail's website says:

“The thing is, thanks to the OM, his face is now public and I am pretty sure the chavs in Barton will be paying him a few visits. I hope I don't cross paths with him.”

That's what happens when people lose confidence in official justice. The vigilantes saddle up and do the job themselves.

It's not where we should be- we all know that- and for over £30bn pa, our criminal justice system must be able to do better. But until we have locally elected law officials, directly accountable to people like the residents of Barton, we're going to see more of it.

Meanwhile, I last saw my friend the week before last. I'm wondering if he's booked into the Oxford Travel Lodge.

PS I urge you not to look at this- it may trigger a seizure.

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