Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Daily Mail not fans of Law & Order

The Daily Mail love a story like this: Boss payouts to Thief 

An employer who found out one of his employees attempted to steal from him has been fined and ordered to pay out £5000 to the thief and cover court costs in excess of £8000. Why? Well, because when he found out about the attempted theft, he convened a couple of his mates, tied the chap up and, after some alleged (by the thief) physical assualt and intimidation, frogmarched him to the police station through the town whilst wearing a sign saying that he was a thief.

The spin on this story in the Daily Mail is beyond ridiculous. The outrage of the employer is quite something to behold. He genuinely believes he did nothing wrong and thinks he has been harshly punished. For me, he's lucky he isn't in jail. False imprisonment is an incredibly serious crime. To restrict someone's freedom and liberty is not something to be done lightly; it's why we use it as our ultimate punishment for crime. This individual took the law into his own hands, without cause or justification and set about punishing his victim completely disproportionately to the crime he believed he had committed.


That sort of activity cannot go unchecked and cannot go unpunished. The fabric of our society is held together by law and order. We invest that power in our government who in turn delegate it to the Police & The Court. There will be many who think this man is some sort of hero and deserves the ubiquitous medal that right wingers love to award. They are misguided. The law must apply to all and not just those whose crimes you happen to find more distasteful than others.

The employer attempted to justify his actions by saying that he was angry that the thief would most likely just end up with a slap on the wrist. That doesn't wash with me. Yes, the law isn't perfect and it does seem like many small crimes go relatively unpunished but it remains the law and it must be obeyed. If he wants to bring about a change in the law then he has an option to do that and it's an option available to every citizen: stand for election or vote for someone who who will best represent you. It may not get the result you want but that's democracy.

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