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?