Thursday, June 24, 2010

MP claims justice "not as good" at some courts

Did David Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, really mean to suggest that Gateshead Court dishes out justice that is "not as good" as that delivered by Blaydon court? I ask because that was his response to the proposed closure of Blaydon court and the transfer of its functions to Gateshead in The Journal on Thursday.

I can understand his desire to want to protect facilities though there are times when frankly, a building has outgrown its usefulness or a service has outgrown the building. Mr Anderson however would be better served by being more realistic when responding to Government announcements. Were I a magistrate or member of court staff based at Gateshead, I would find his allegation that justice handed out there was "not as good" somewhat insulting. I would also find it bizarre as the same magistrates and staff based in Gateshead run Blaydon court. Perhaps Mr Anderson may wish to substantiate his claim with some evidence, and also explain what he means by "not as good".

Mr Anderson then went on to claim "In cases where people have fallen into crime because they are desperate, having to travel six miles and pay for the bus fare may not seem a lot to you and me, but it could just make things worse."

Firstly, let me remind Mr Anderson that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The words he used imply that all those charged are in fact guilty. That is not always the case. Secondly, even when desperate, "falling into crime" is not justifiable. "Desperation" is not an excuse for burglary, theft, vandalism, drunkenness and so on. I find it staggering that one of our own law-makers can give comfort to criminality in this way.

Thirdly, Mr Anderson seems to think it is terrible that someone convicted of "desperate" criminal behaviour should have to pay a bus fare to travel to Gateshead. People already have to pay to travel to Blaydon which for many is more difficult and costly to get to than Gateshead.

If guilty, paying the bus fare to get to court is just a small part of the price you pay for breaking the law in the first place.

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