Northampton Magistrates – Publish the Guilty?
I once wrote that photographs of those people who have committed crimes should be published on a local website a view that was dismissed by many organisations as being an infringement of people’s civil liberties.
What became clear at the time was that those who were most against the idea hadn’t been victims of crime themselves but had obviously done a great deal of reading on the matter.
With the coalition Governments cuts in police funding beginning to bite and the ludicrous plans to further cut support for the courts and the privatisation of the probation service the public are going to need assurance that those who commit crimes are going to be dealt with.
One way that the public could be given the reassurance is if the names and crimes of all of those who appear in the Northampton Magistrates Court every week are published.
Before the uproar begins let me make it clear I’m only talking about those who are found guilty.
The problem with crime statistics is that all political parties are very selective in what they use to justify their chosen position and worse still in my view talk about percentage changes that mean very little to the public and even less to the victims of crime.
In the real world every victim is unique and more importantly every victim is a 100% victim so talk of an increase or decrease of x% doesn’t reflect the impact of crime on the victims in any purposeful or meaningful way.
I would argue that by publishing a list of the results of cases heard in the Northampton Magistrates Court every week not only will it give reassurance to the victims and public but will also highlight the excellent work being carried out by the police and criminal justice services.
How many times has it been said that perpetrators who have been given community sentences have it easy and in fact many don’t even turn up to carry out the work?
If for example the names of those who appear in court for failing to comply with a community order to carry out unpaid work and have the order revoked and replaced with a custodial sentence are published would it be welcomed by the victims?
In a similar way why don’t we name and shame those who are convicted of ‘Threatening and abusive language’, ‘drink and disorderly’, ‘assault’ and those ‘breaching a court order of curfew’?
If we want the public to know and understand the seriousness of fraud, basically stealing from the taxpayer, why shouldn’t those convicted of ‘benefit fraud’ is more widely published?
and arguably the most important of crimes in the minds of the public are those of violence, whether in the pursuit of another crime or domestic violence where the names of those found guilty should be published.
I’m aware this view may not be welcome in some areas but if we are really going to involve all of society in the criminal justice system then why not?
To those who may want to object and especially those convicted in the magistrates court all I can really say is that the details are already in the public domain so please don’t ask for specific cases to be left off of the list if one ends up being published.
The only question is will the local newspapers, the Chronicle and Echo and Herald and Post who already publish some court cases take up the challenge and produce a half page/full-page of all the Magistrates Courts cases where guilt has been established?
“If they do will they have support from the public”?