Tuesday 24 August 2010

Yellow peril

If a law is deemed to be generally acceptable by society and a person breaks that law it would seem equally acceptable, if caught, for that person to be dealt with by the justice system. I have no desire at this juncture to go further on the outcome of being dealt with by the justice system as it is irrelevant to my argument and I have blogged on it here. Suffice to say that if you break the law and get caught there will usually be something referred to as punishment. As a procedure or process this doesn’t seem unreasonable to me and I suspect most people feel the same.

Are burglar alarms an affront to people’s individual liberty?
Are they evidence of the ‘big brother’ society?
To a burglar the answers are probably ‘yes’ and ‘yes’, unless of course you are Norman Stanley Fletcher, in which case it could be ‘yes’ and ‘no’. But to most of us they would seem to be a useful, if not occasionally annoying when they go off in the early hours near where we live, piece of crime prevention equipment.

Road safety experts say that “speed kills”. We have laws that say speeding is an offence. In general most people accept these arguments. So what is it about speed cameras?
Why are they seen as an instrument of oppression by the BMW driving, Daily Mail reading hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade?
They encourage people not to break the law and they catch them when they do. Agreed they are more effective than your bog-standard burglar alarm, although the more sophisticated burglar/surveillance equipment is pretty good at ‘catching’ people. They are electronic witnesses to law breaking. What is wrong with that?

Now I know that some people object to speed cameras because they see them as an easy tax revenue raising facility, and I have some sympathy with this viewpoint. But I do think the use of the camera and the penalty need to be kept separate in the argument. Personally I’d like to see the emphasis put well and truly on rehabilitation. If people are caught driving dangerously then perhaps the answer should be re-training and education in the consequences of bad driving rather than a fine.

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