March, April 2017

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Driven to Crime

Your licence acquires penalty points as you break various laws. Eventually you receive a driving ban. 12 penalty points is the theoretical ceiling before a driving ban ensues. The BBC recently reported that 10,000 people are still legally driving their cars despite accumulating enough points for a ban. The main reason for the criminalisation of the UK population is because millions of traffic cameras are triggered without discretion. Little old ladies are now criminals because they made some insignificant error. Some thoughtful magistrates are reluctant to issue driving bans and utilise a long-forgotten tool called discretion. A driving ban has serious consequences and can lead to unemployment, homelessness, divorce and an early death. Yes, I know the pious will say, “You should have thought of the driving ban before you broke the law”, but punishment should fit the crime.


In Finland, they have ‘means-tested’ speeding fines. A wealthy Fin was caught at 64mph (103km/h) on a 50mph (80km/h) highway. No big deal, you might say; but he was fined £47,000. Then a wealthy Swede got caught speeding on a deserted motorway in Switzerland at 181mph. The fine? A cool £567,000 and his Mercedes SLS AMG impounded. This means that crimes are greater if you are wealthy. Question: Should a wealthy criminal – say a murderer – receive a longer prison sentence that a poor murderer? While we all agree that “Punishment should fit the crime”, the sticking point is in the word ‘fit’. What fits for one person, does not fit for another. The punishment spectrum ranges from beheading someone for a parking infringement, to ‘case dismissed’ for a mass murderer.

European prisons are full, so judges are reluctant to add to the over-crowding problem. This means that you must commit a really big crime to receive a custodial sentence. To receive a prison sentence for a European motoring offence you must either kill people, or poke fun at the law by uploading your GoPro speeding footage to YouTube. It happens.

Finally, a philosophical question for minds much greater than mine; let’s say High Court Judges. Here is the question: Can there be a crime if there is no victim? In Europe, if I don’t pay my taxes, I understand that the poor, or those who do not wish to work, will be victimised by receiving less welfare. But if I am speeding, and then slow down, there is no victim. No victim, no crime. Please discuss….