Thursday, July 21, 2005

Something To Cheer About

As I predicted here, the High Court has ruled that the Government's blanket curfews on people under 16 are illegal. These gave the police the power to pick up teenagers and take them to their home if they were on the streets after 9pm even if they had done nothing wrong.
Imagine the outcry if the Government made it illegal to carry a mobile phone in your car because a minority of motorists use their phones while driving.

Even if the concept of Human Rights had never been dreamed of, this law breached every principle of natural justice and the entrenched legal principle of the presumption of innocence.
This isn't quite the end of the story because the Government are going to waste vast amounts of public money by appealing against the decision. But I don't see how any higher court can overturn the ruling.

Instead, we should be hailing the anonymous boy who brought the case (with the support of Liberty) as a national hero. He is proof that there are many young people with principles, guts and determination and it's time we started respecting them for it.

On the same topic, I hear Ministers and others saying we have to find ways of stopping young people hanging around.
What is this nonsense? Hanging around with friends (or 'hanging out' as it's now called) is something young people have always done. If they're not doing anything illegal or anti-social, what the hell is the problem?

In my village there are seats outside the shops. In the mornings, elderly people hang around there chatting. In the afternoon, it's often young mothers with small children. In the evenings, it's usually teenagers. None of these groups, including the last, cause any trouble.

It's true that the teenage boys do a lot of spitting. Some of them sit with their heads between their legs slowly expectorating a long dribble of spit until there is a pool of spittle on the ground. I'm less concerned by the unpleasantness of this than puzzled as to why they do it. Are there any psychologists out there with an explanation? I'm sure that my generation never did it. Is there any connection with the canine trait of marking out territory? I have over-active saliva glands myself but this never causes me to spit in the street.
But even this minor unpleasantness needs to be kept in perspective. A woman in one of Alan Bennett's plays says 'Last week I saw a man pissing in Jermyn Street. And I thought is this the end of civilisation.......or is it just a man pissing in Jermyn Street?'

What vandalism and anti-social behaviour we get in this village doesn't arise from teenagers hanging around and chatting with their friends. It mostly occurs between 11pm and midnight on a Friday and Saturday night when they emerge from the pubs. Yet the Government has made it easier to get planning permission to open more pubs and is extending opening hours. One of their justifications for this is that the innocent, law-abiding drinkers should not be penalised because of the activities of a few. Er....isn't that where we came in with the argument against blanket curfews?


At 4:29 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

I disagree with your comments about the curfew Willie..

It was clearly stated that young Master W would never have been stopped by a policeman because there would never be any reason to.

This was just another stunt by the liberal left.

I also think the penalty for being a hoodie should be a hundred lashes.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Sorry, Zaphod. You're quite wrong. On one occasion the boy 'W' was told off by a policeman for being on the street after 9pm unaccompanied by an adult, even though he was only returning from band practice or something similarly harmless. This was referred to by the judge in the case, Lord Justice Brooks.
I doubt if Lord Justice Brooks and his colleagues are members of the 'liberal left'. I certainly am, in case you hadn't noticed.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

I didn't know young Master W had been stopped. Still, one policeman's mistake does not mean that the law was a bad idea.

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Graham said...

Willie,just because the kids in your village don't cause bother does not mean it a bad should see the little feral bastards where I live they run riot through our estate causing mayhem.
I'm sorry but its time now to start getting tougher on them and the parents.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

zaphod, since the purpose of a curfew zone is that children under 16 cannot be on the streets between 9pm and 6am, I cannot see why the policeman was making a mistake. Of course, the Government are now back-pedalling and spinning furiously and saying this law would rarely be enforced. So why have it?

graham, I didn't say the kids in my village don't cause trouble. They do. I said that most of it was alcohol-related.
Don't be fooled by the term 'village'. This isn't some rural idyll. My village is the size of a small town and has many of the social problems of an inner city.
By all means come down hard on criminal and anti-social behaviour. That is not the issue. But you cannot justify any law that punishes the innocent as well as the guilty. That was the gist of the judges' ruling. It's worth reading what they said rather than the Daily Mail version.
Some people may be happy to live in a police state. I am not.

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Willie, I'm intrigued by your story of youths expectorating between their legs on the seats in your village; I too live in a village in central southern England [W Sussex]. I wonder if this extended drooling is genetic and there has been a parallel independant evolution of his phenomenon - if so how widespread is it? Or is it the same village?

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

No, it's not the same village. I'm a long way north of Sussex.
Maybe it's because the pace of life is slower in the country so a single spit can become a pleasure to be taken slowly and extended to ten or more minutes?


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