Public anger may have subsided since those recent scenes of devastation in our cities, but now there is a widespread clamour to see justice done. As is usual with our screwball courts system though, there are cases that appear to make a mockery. For example, one rioter was given the bizarre sentence of one day in prison, but he was immediately released because he had already been in custody for that length of time. Well I hope he learned his lesson (insert rolling eyes emoticon here).
If the justice system won’t play hard ball with these thugs, then maybe the councils will. It is reported that Wandsworth Council has served an eviction notice on one tenant after her son was convicted for his part in the disturbances. Understandably, many people think it is unfair to punish the mother and the rest of the family for the crimes of the son, and I hope that the local community doesn’t hold a peaceful vigil when the evictors come a-knocking.
As the courts hand down sentences those in the dock can do standing on their heads and councils look at who to evict, and pass on to be someone else’s problem, there is actually a form of punishment that will be administered to every one of these hooligans, and it will stay with them for the rest of their lives: their criminal records.
They may not be too concerned about their records right now, and some may even be proud of their ‘form sheets’, but this is not likely to be the case for all time.
A good illustration of how a person’s criminal record can impact on their prospects came with the startling news that one of those arrested was actually a primary school assistant and mentor to children. Alexis Bailey, 31, was found inside the Richer Sounds store in Croydon during the disturbances there. He has pleaded guilty to burglary, although he was not seen to have taken anything from the premises, and will be sentenced at a later date.
Even if that sentence is about as effective as twenty minutes on the naughty step, this guy will feel the repercussions of his moment of madness for the rest of his days. I would expect that Stockwell Primary School has already dispensed with his services, as a burglar does not a good mentor make, and so Mr Bailey will now be in the jobs market. He may have a brilliant CV and he may be considered an asset to the classroom (he certainly appears to be fond of reading, judging by his close study of a copy of the Metro when he came out of court), but his problems are just about to begin.
If Burglar Bailey wants to apply for jobs in a similar environment, i.e., around children, then he will have to provide a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check each time. And, unlike points on a driving licence, this not-so-welcome reminder of his night with the rioters will be there in ten, twenty and even thirty years’ time.
So while the law-abiding among us sigh in frustration at some of the sentences meted out, we can at least find a morsel of comfort in the certainty that, for some of these louts at least, their actions this week will come back at some point in the future to cause them considerable discomfort.