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Lack of judicial punishment in the UK ?

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posted on Oct, 18 2006 @ 08:03 PM
This seems incredible - is it typical of UK justice these days ?

No detention for boys who 'risked passengers lives'
By Nick Lakeman
TWO teen vandals who blew up a bridge above a railway line and brought power lines crashing down on a train have been spared juvenile detention.

The 13-year-olds from Runcorn - who cannot be legally named - each pleaded guilty to three offences committed on two consecutive nights in April.

Warrington Crown Court heard this morning (Wednesday, October 18) how lives had been risked and £300,000 damage caused by the pair's 'recklessness'.

At 8pm on April 18 the driver of a Liverpool to London train was forced to slow because signals at Halton Junction had been spray painted over.

As he approached he saw electricity 'arching' from the live rail and as he screeched to a halt there was a 'bang and a flash' and the overhead cable came crashing down on top of the carriages.

He and terrified passengers were trapped for three hours until it was safe to be evacuated.

Investigators found a length of electrical flex thrown over the overhead lines with the end attached to a stanchion holding the power-lines up.

Driver Stuart Hammond described it as 'the most dangerous thing' he had ever seen.

John Oates, prosecuting said it was lucky reports of the damaged signals had forced trains to slow down otherwise a more serious accident could have occurred.

The night after at 6.30pm residents heard a mammoth explosion and saw slabs of concrete from the busway bridge that crosses the track hurled through the air.

The line was closed and the area sealed off.

Investigators found once again that electrical cable had been thrown onto the live rail causing a bolt of electricity to leap back up to the busway bridge, exploding it.

The boys aroused suspicion after people gossiping about the incidents thought they seemed amused by the vandalism.

Boy A went home and told his mum and she reported it to the police.

But when he was interviewed he denied it, insolently accused the police of wasting his time, the court heard.

Boy B said it was his friend who had thrown the cable over the line the first time but admitted spray painting over the signals.

He said the night after they found another piece of cable and dragged it up the embankment to the top of the bridge whereupon Boy A had dangled it over.

An electric shock blew him off his feet and he dropped the wire, causing the explosion.

The blast caused £1035 damage to gas pipes and cost Halton Council £10,000 in repairs.

Estimated costs to the railway were £86,000 for the first incident and £95,000 for the second.

The losses to the trapped passengers, their companies and those inconveniences by the line closures were incalculable.

David Ackerley, defending, said Boy A had never considered the outcome of his actions' until on the second occasion a large section of the bridge they were standing on exploded'.

He added the boys had been unaware of the damage and disruption they had caused on the first night because a signalman had chased them away.

Robert Golinski, defending, said Boy B was full of horror and remorse' at what he had done, had ditched friends who led him astray and was benefiting from a more settled family life.

Both argued that custodial sentences should not be imposed because neither boy was a persistent offender' - although A had several police warnings and reprimands and B had been cautioned for throwing eggs last Halloween - or had intended to endanger lives.

Sentencing them, Judge Roger Dutton told them they were lucky to be standing in the dock at all.

"Messing around with power-lines for kicks is a sure way if getting yourselves and others killed," he said.

Boy A was given a two-year supervision order rather than a detention and training order due to the six months he had already spent on remand since his arrest.

Boy B will have a referral order imposed on him by Halton Youth Court on the judge's recommendation.

posted on Oct, 18 2006 @ 08:26 PM
I'm sure anyone could pick out a strange or unusual story from any country anytime but it is hardly typical.

The facts do not support the idea that there is a "Lack of judicial punishment in the UK ", no matter what sensationalist tabloids or provincial papers might claim or imply.

We currently have the highest prison population in the EU and record numbers when compared with our own history.

A higher proportion of the population of England and Wales is behind bars than that of any other western European country, a prison reform group reports.
According to a league table drawn up by the Howard League for Penal Reform, 140.4 people in every 100,000 of the population are in jail.
This rate is 50% higher than France and double that of Scandinavian countries.........

.......England and Wales also jails more under-18s than any European country apart from Ukraine, the report says......

.......England and Wales topped the league for the number of young adults (aged 18 to 20) incarcerated with 8,514 behind bars, making up 11.4% of total inmates.

The country with the next highest rate was Turkey, with 8,397 young adult inmates, followed by Germany, with 5,443.

But the country with the highest proportion of child inmates within the prison population was Northern Ireland, where under-18s made up 5.2% of those in custody.

England and Wales also had the third largest female prison population - 4,452 - above countries such as France, Italy and Germany, which have higher national populations.

posted on Oct, 21 2006 @ 12:40 PM

Those are interesting and troubling statistics, I will of course mention that the US has an even higher rate of incarceration, which is nothing to be proud of.

If the UK does indeed have a comparatively high prison population and yet appears to be soft on crime, then the inevitable conclusion is that there is something seriously wrong with British society. There are also plenty of examples of light sentencing, here's another:

This individual was released from jail after just 8 years (which is incredible) for murdering a shop assistant, only to kill another.

Much of this may be anecdotal, but one of my employees was recently assigned to work in the Czech Republic for a month. He said that Prague had a lot of young male British tourists who appeared to drink heavily all day (always beer) and hurl incredibly vulgar and obscene language at young Czech girls passing by the roadside Cafes. A taxi driver also informed him that of all the tourists who visited the city, the British were known to be the worst behaved and were often violent - he refused to carry them as a consequence.

This is all very strange to an American, we were raised to believe that British standards of behavior were the highest.

[edit on 21-10-2006 by Retseh]

posted on Oct, 21 2006 @ 08:51 PM
Yes those figures are appalling and they are nothing to be proud of.

I think the stats prove we are not 'soft' on crime.
The age and rate at which we convict and subject children to the law stand out as nothing to crow about either.

As you say anecdotal stories are never much of a guide of what is typical.
Mistakes get made, such is life, sadly.

The Czech story doesn't surprise me much either.
Prague has become well known as a cheap destination for stag parties (it used to be Dublin not so long before that).

It's true you'll find outrageous examples when that is the backdrop but I'd say that is true for so many nationalities in similar circumstances.
You should see some of the Scandinavians going nuts on booze (it is taxed to the hilt in their own countries and they can get completely carried away with it too).

Brits abroad (especially the idiot drunken young men in gangs) are indeed usually a tragic and highly embarrassing sight - and that's being kind about them if they doesn't turn nasty......the only counter-balance to it is the cops abroad are usually so sick of this behaviour that given the slightest provocation they'll give them a hiding they'll not forget in a hurry.

I don't know why Americans expect high standards from our idiot youth tho.

In fairness they're not so wildly different to anybodies' idiot youth, but they do have a very bad name (often completely justified but not always) and you know what they say about giving a dog a bad name?

posted on Oct, 22 2006 @ 01:11 PM
I guess we all have our problems - the US right now seems to have a particular problem with people who like to shoot 6 year old school girls, nice huh.

I think that a stag party must be the same as a bachelor party, and that does equal drunken males behaving badly in any language.

Seems like you at least have a minimum of one good guy over there

Keep up the good work.

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