Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nailing the nation's most wanted


GOOD EVENING and welcome to Crimewatch, where the nation’s most dangerous criminals are named, shamed and subjected to general opprobrium.

First in the metaphorical stocks this week is that threat to society, Linda Jackson of Chaddesden, Derby, who was threatened with eviction from her council house of 17 years for the heinous crime of … not mowing the lawn. The fact that it had been raining constantly, that we’re not talking knee-high here, or that Linda, 42, usually mows the grass every two weeks, cut no ice with her city council landlords. Mow or go was the message. Tough on crime; tough on the causes of slightly long grass.

This is zero tolerance. Crack down on the little things and the big things won’t happen is the theory. And that’s why I don’t have any sympathy for Rachel McKenzie, 54, an archbishop’s secretary from London, who may end up with a criminal record after being caught under-paying her bus fare by 20 pence.

McKenzie wilfully boarded the Number 12 from East Dulwich to Southwark and swiped her pre-paid Oyster card over a reader next to the driver, not noticing that the machine had beeped to indicate that she had insufficient money on the card to pay the 90 pence fare. Sorry, love, but ignorance is no defence.

When an inspector checked her card and found it wanting, McKenzie offered to pay the difference in cash, but her offer was declined. A summons was duly issued and this dangerous criminal will now appear before Sutton magistrates on May 22.

Her legal adviser describes the case as “a scandalous abuse of the court system”. McKenzie herself says: “It reminds me of the days when people used to get transported to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread.”

Count your blessings, woman. If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

And this utter disregard for the law of the land rumbles on. Take 82-year-old Parkinson’s disease sufferer Jean Raine from Kendal, Cumbria. When she felt unwell during a shopping trip, she dozed off in her car which was legally parked in a disabled space.

Fortunately for the safety of us all, a sharp-eyed traffic warden noticed that her disabled parking badge was upside down and duly issued a £35 penalty charge notice, taking care not to wake the sleeping felon as he slapped it on the windscreen.

Was she grateful for this considerate attitude? Was she heck. “I cannot understand why the parking attendant didn’t wake me up,” she moaned. “He must have been on tiptoes – so quiet that he didn’t disturb me.”

Yes - softly, softly, catchee monkey.

Sadly, this crime wave continues, with what the Daily Telegraph calls “the respectable headmaster of a successful primary school” being caught fishing with an out-of-date licence. Sixty-year-old Bob Yeomans, from Walsall, now faces being banned from teaching after his conviction showed up on a government check designed to identify child abusers.

Mr Yeomans may have 38 impeccable years on his record as a teacher, but that cut no ice when he was caught fishing on the River Dove in Derbyshire after forgetting to renew his licence. A water bailiff duly nabbed him, he was prosecuted under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 and fined £50 with £70 costs by magistrates.

Mr Yeomans then returned to his 355-pupil school, rated “good with some outstanding features” by Ofsted, and promptly forgot about the whole thing. A year later his chair of governors was notified that there was a problem with a Criminal Records Bureau check on staff and phoned Mr Yeomans to tell him.

“I said ‘Is it a member of staff’ and he said ‘No, it’s you’. He had to visit me and decide if I was fit to work with children.”

He is now waiting on a decision on his future, but has so far been allowed to keep his job.

Now this may seem like a petty intrusion on a capable man’s career, but ask yourself this: do we really want our young people to be casting off their hoodies and guns and to instead spend their spare time tickling trout without a licence? I think not. A crime is a crime. There are thousands of possible mugging victims out there but not very many brown trout. It’s a case of supply and demand.

And after all that, I really can’t be arsed bringing you the story about the man who hung a Jolly Roger flag outside his house to mark his daughter’s pirate-themed birthday party. I think you can guess what happened next.

OF COURSE, many of the above crimes against society could – and should - have been eradicated if the nation’s network of CCTV cameras actually worked. After all, we have an incredible 4.3 million of them – astonishingly a quarter of all the CCTV cameras in the world. No, really. That should, in theory, mean that Big Brother Britain is the safest country on earth. Sadly street robbery and violent crime (as well as illegal fishing, bus fare evasion, upside down parking and illicit grass growing) are at their highest levels ever.

The problem is that these much-vaunted cameras are crap. They might have cost billions of pounds, but the cops can’t be bothered reviewing them because it’s too much like hard work and even the Home Office admits that four out of every five images requested by the police are completely useless when it comes to identifying suspects. So we’re the most watched society in the world and it’s all a waste of time. Brilliant.

The real problem is that this false reliance on cameras – on our motorways as well as on our high streets – has allowed the police to abrogate responsibility for patrolling our neighbourhoods. And that means that old ladies are falling asleep in parked cars willy nilly and nobody is doing anything about it. It’s an absolute disgrace.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Predict A Riot!!!

2:23 AM  
Anonymous doctor mick said...

Was she grateful for this considerate attitude? Was she heck. “I cannot understand why the parking attendant didn’t wake me up,” she moaned. “He must have been on tiptoes – so quiet that he didn’t disturb me.”

Yes - softly, softly, catchee monkey.


LOL

I nearly spilled me coffee down my shirt reading that.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous arescee said...

Was she grateful for this considerate attitude? Was she heck. “I cannot understand why the parking attendant didn’t wake me up,” she moaned. “He must have been on tiptoes – so quiet that he didn’t disturb me.”

Yes - softly, softly, catchee monkey.


Have the nazis in the local camera control room put the video out on "You tube" yet?

12:41 PM  

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