Back to Front PagePublic trust in the police and the justice system is at an all-time low. Why? What has happened to these once respected (by the non-criminal classes) institutions?

It's not just the politicians who are to blame

In the good old days, the police force operated with the consent of the public and the courts were mysterious institutions to be avoided at all costs by decent people. And then along came politicians with legislative diarrhoea and the extended jobsworth culture. Now, the justice system is seen as an ineffective joke and members of police services are considered to be hysterical gun-slingers, thugs or just time-wasting bunglers, and members of the public are fair-game for harassment by the jobsworths.

At one time, Parliament was stuffed with lawyers, who were there probably because they could not make a living in the outside world without the added prestige of "M.P." tacked on to their name. They churned out laws which were full of loopholes but the public could live with them as long as they were applied with a measure of common sense.

Then came gangs of MPs who had never been obliged to earn a living in the "real world", and European courts full of mock judges with zero judicial experience, who excelled at creating loopholes where none had existed previously.

The New Labour era was notorious for creating hundreds of badly drafted laws, for making the application of common sense a human rights abuse and for failing to correct unintended consequences resulting from judges placing an eccentric interpretation on the written law and petty officials mis-applying new laws.

Over-reaction has become the rule rather than the exception.

As a result, we expect police forces routinely to close both lanes of a motorway for hours after an accident and ignore the inconvenience to the (non-)travelling public, half the coppers in the country with half the guns in the world to shut down a large area of a city for a suicide bomber who never was and local councils to abuse anti-terrorism laws to spy on constituents suspected of minor offences, such as over-filling a refuse or recycling bin, or parking in front of their own homes.

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service are "patients zero" in the general plague of over-reaction by misapplying laws created to tackle very serious offences to minor offences. For instance, laws passed to protect the victims of dangerous stalkers are now applied to minor disputes between neighbours.

Such disputes used to be settled in the civil courts at the expense of those concerned. Now, they clog up the criminal courts – mainly at the taxpayers' expense. And during such cases, the legislative abuse continues.

Laws aimed at excluding evidence about the character of the victim of an alleged rape, passed with the noble intention of sparing women an ordeal in the witness box at the hands of an unscrupulous defence barrister, are used to exclude evidence from other neighbours about the bad character of the complainant in a minor dispute. Thus the accused neighbour is unable to present the context of the dispute and evidence that he or she is, in fact, the victim of a vexatious neighbour and justice is not served.

It might just be that the information is more readily available, but the cost of such trials is another source of growing public discontent with the legal system.

This applies especially when the cost is inflated by repeated postponements caused by the CPS failing to do its job properly when it comes to processing evidence and disclosing information to the defence. And the number of such trials is growing because the CPS finds it easier to prosecute decent people for imaginary offences than do anything to frustrate society's real enemies, and police "services" staffed with clueless coppers are happy to go along with them.

Thus growing numbers of decent people join the "criminal community" thanks to the incompetence of the leglislature and its servants.

Whenever a member of the taxpaying community picks up a newspaper, there is always some new abuse of the public purse on offer, some decent person branded a criminal thanks to a lazy CPS official going for the easy option, some copper dressed up in an IRA mask with guns hanging off him like Christmas tree presents. It always seems to be "Tanks at Heathrow" and "Surface to air missiles on apartment buildings around the Olympics" time.

Until someone applies a sense of proportion and fairness to the judicial system, and severe penalties to those who abuse the system and deliberately create crime where none should exist, things are only going to get worse.

Lest we forget . . . rescue crews which leave people to drown . . . 25 firemen sent to look at a seagull tangled up in a plastic bag on a pond 3 feet deep but not to rescue it . . . members of the public who think it's clever to attack doctors and ambulance crews . . . gun-toting gangsters with no respect for human life . . . gun-toting coppers who blow away unarmed suspects . . . politicians who think they have a divine right to steal from the taxpayer with fraudulent expenses claims . . . senior politicians who think they have a divine right to lie their heads off and suffer no consequences . . . police forces which choose not to record crimes to fiddle statistics . . .

In the United States, you're entitled to a fair trial but not to justice. In Britain today, you don't even get the fair trial.

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