Posted: 10/12/2005 10:30:37 PM EDT
English adopting napoleonic code?
'Law change to curb yobs'
Deputy Political Editor
TONY Blair last night sensationally vowed to end the tradition of being presumed innocent until found guilty.
The PM pledged to turn the nation’s criminal justice system on its head and hand police sweeping new powers.
He promised fixed penalty notices for ANY crime — forcing suspects to prove their innocence in court.
Mr Blair admitted it was a “watershed” moment in legal history. He said in Downing Street: “It’s summary justice. It’s tough but in my judgment the only way to deal with it.”
Offenders would range from street yobs yelling abuse to international organised crime.
He warned the criminal justice system has lost all hope of tackling crime — and insisted the way to restore justice for “law-abiding citizens” was to rip up centuries of legal tradition.
Mr Blair admitted cops have all but given up pursuing villains through the courts. And he vowed to bring in whatever laws they want.
If people want us to tackle the new types of crime today you can’t do it by the rules of the game we have at the moment.
There is international crime, very brutal violent organised crime, anti-social behaviour.
In every respect these types of crime are different from when I was growing up.
People can write articles about going through this process. But it’s too complicated and too laborious.
The police end up being hidebound by a whole series of restrictions. It’s too complicated. We have to put the duty to protect the law-abiding citizen at the centre of the system.
If you are a police officer patrolling the streets and someone throws a brick through a window or abuses an old lady on the way to the shops . . . If you have to take that person all the way through a long court process, you are not going to do it.
By the time you have filled out all the forms, done the statements, got them to court, three hearings, they have defence lawyers, all the rest of it, forget it.
You may say ‘yes, we should do that if we are going to charge someone with an offence’. But if that’s what you do, you don’t get the job done.
The reason I introduced fixed penalties was I said ‘we have had enough of that’. With serious crime, it takes two or three years. Heaven knows the millions they spend putting it together. We then have trials going on forever and half of them get off in the end. It’s ridiculous.
If you want to change it you can change it but not by pretending the same system can be applied with a little bit of effort, because it doesn’t work.
Bringing in the laws is certain to trigger a massive rights backlash and battle with the courts.
Yesterday new Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips warned the PM against “browbeating” judges.
Among the steps in Mr Blair’s plan is to stop housing benefit for noisy neighbours.
He also vowed even tougher crackdowns on licensees who give under-age drinkers booze and parents who fail to keep their children in check.
TERROR suspects must be held without charge for up to three months, Mr Blair insisted last night.