Shutting the stable door...
Does it have a point?
Suppose I am under the influence of alcohol, I see the notice and think "Gosh I must take special care while on the platform, as I am indeed under the influence of alcohol...". Isn't part of the point of being under the influence that you don't realise that you are?
The notice is clearly pointless (except to enable the station authorities to say to the coroner, when an inebriated passenger has slipped under a train.. "but there were notices warning the drunk to take extra care").
Within a few years there will no doubt be a notice threatening a few years in prison if you are caught drunk in charge of a suitcase on Cambridge station.
That is because 'we' (I mean new Labour and the Tories, and the Lib Dems I suspect, if you scratched the surface) have only one reaction to behaviour we dont like: namely, bang the buggers up.
That's why Jack Straw plans to increase the dangerous driving sentence from two years to fiver years inside. Now can anyone tell me what the point of this is?
No I don't approve of dangerous driving (any more than I approve of falling about drunkenly on Cambridge station, probably a lot less). But what does 5 years imprisonment achieve, apart from pleasing a few hangers and floggers. And of course turning the culprit into a real criminal (that's what prisons are best at) and depriving a probably innocent family of a significant bread winner (there's not many better ways of turning kids into criminals than by imprisoning their dad).
Is it beyond the wit of the judicial system to devise a productive punishment that fits the crime?
Do we really think that dangerous drivers are turned into safe ones by the spectre of a 5 year prison sentence?I should say at this point that (despite some doubts at the time) my speed awareness course HAS made me much more aware of speed that 3 points on my licence ever would have.
There is a similarity with rape cases here. We all think that men should not force/coerce women to sleep with them. And most people think that there is a problem with the low rate of conviction in rape cases. Some of this may be to do with the attitude of the police (but now, I suspect, not very much). Much more of it. in the UK at least, is to do with the very nature of the case.
Hardy any rapes are of the "jumped on down a dark alley" sort. Most happen between people who know each other. No one contests they had sex. The jury has to decide (on the basis of no external evidence whatsoever) whether there was consent or not. It is, not unreasonably, beyond the capacity of most juries to make that decision 'beyond reasonable doubt".. especially when the effect of a guilty verdict is to wreck someone's life forever (I know that the woman's life might have been wrecked, but there is a whiff in this of the old nineteenth century reluctance to find someone guilty of sheep stealing.. simply because of the combination of lurking doubt and the truly life destructive consequences of a guilty verdict).
We need a new method of punishment (more effective and less expensive). And a new priority -- that is to stop guys doing this, not simply banging up a selection of the most flagrantly guilty, pour encourager les autres.
And we need to get away from the idea of prison as the only punishment on offer for any activity we really don't like.
Sorry , I've gone on about this before. And Happy Christmas.