Watching the fly-on-the-wall documentary Police Intercepters on 5* tonight, it’s impossible not to think that the English justice system is not fit for purpose.
In one case, a couple were caught cultivating cannabis in their loft with a full hydroponic kit – lighting, insulation, the works.
The commentator explained that the CPS dropped charges against the couple for insufficient evidence. What more evidence is required? Who else is going to turn your loft into a cannabis factory?
But this was topped by a drugs raid at another house. The male suspect told the cameraman to leave and was told by a policeman that “It’s in the public interest. They are making a documentary with us and it is in the public interest for them to be here.”
Public interest or not, the cameraman is trespassing and should have left when asked to. The police had a magistrates court warrant to be there. The cameraman isn’t a policeman and has no lawful authority to be in somebody else’s house (if the cameraman was a policeman, why are the police spending time, resources and money filming programmes for commercial television stations?).
I’ve accompanied the police on raids on a couple of occasions and on each occasion it was made clear that I would have to leave if the home occupier asked me to. On one of them I could only go in if invited by the occupier. Whether it is “in the public interest or not” is irrelevant to the man’s request for the cameraman to leave.
On this raid, the man greeted police by brandishing a crowbar that he kept near his bed (offensive weapon). A further weapon – an electric shock/ Tazer-style device – was found, along with numerous Category-A drugs, cannabis plants and the beginnings of a cannabis factory.
The commentary explained that he pleaded guilty and was given a one year community sentence. Possession of the electric-shock weapon carries a maximum 10-year sentence. And he brandished a crowbar at the police.
Regardless of the drugs, that alone should carry a custodial sentence.
I’m not against community sentences in the right circumstances; but at a time when concern about gun- and knife-crime continues to to rise, it seems bizarre for magistrates to give such a low sentence to a person who has been caught red-handed with a serious offensive weapon and who was prepared to use a crowbar to threaten the police.
What is the point of having a police force to detect crime and put the offenders before the courts if the CPS and the courts aren’t even prepared to slap the wrists of the guilty?