A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Kangaroo courts on our high streets?

Shoplifting is a petty crime that is far from petty. It is estimated that it costs £1 billion a year. Some is done by organised gangs, some by desperate drug users, and some by cash-strapped folk just at their wits end. Not right in any case. However, there are instances where innocent mistakes occur. When these happen it is no longer a case of understanding the situation, but keeping to a prescribed set of rules, many times draconian in nature, and literally getting a profit out error.

I am disturbed by the antics of an organisation called Retail Loss Prevention. Its managing director, Jackie Lambert, says, "Many thieves are not prosecuted in the criminal courts. Retailers are increasingly having to take responsibility themselves to redress this balance”. What she doesn't say is that she puts in a tidy profit and is keen to see even innocent people pay 100% for her work. This is rather like a losing side in a court battle demanding costs as of right. A sort of loser takes all. She implies that no defence can be mounted, the word of the store is paramount and that she is the queen bee of all matters arising.

This is not justice. This is just Ms Lambert setting up a business where she knows she will make money regardless of the legalities of the situation. The police are now concerned. Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), says: "Some retailers feel frustrated by the courts and the police who see shoplifting at the lower end of offending, and we support their efforts to remedy that, but the problem comes when some companies respond disproportionately. It would be wholly inappropriate if individuals were being brow beaten into an admission of guilt."

I do hope Ms Lambert doesn't condone browbeating. It's kind of medieval. Has she watched Garrow's Law? Maybe she thinks deportation is a possibility? I can only think that her organisation is primarily concerned with making money. If a shoplifter is bang to rights, let the courts decide. I would suggest anyone who feels framed should put up a fight. Anyone who has made an honest mistake, like the one in this BBC report, should not be browbeaten into paying "fines" to Ms Lambert and her organisation.

We have a justice system. It may be creaking but we fought hard and long for it. I for one don't like kangaroo courts. They should be a thing of the past.


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