New Forest East



By Julian Lewis

Southern Daily Echo – 2 December 2009

A few days ago, on the Tube to Westminster, my attention was caught by an article in one of the free newspapers. A crime correspondent reported that almost two out of three women caught carrying weapons are not prosecuted and that – for this reason – gangsters are using them to look after weapons on their behalf.

Indeed, of 140 women caught in 2008–09, only 46 were charged. Five were handed youth reprimands and the remaining 88 were merely cautioned.

Why is this relevant to Daily Echo readers? Simply because it seems impossible to reconcile with the recent letter from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) defending its absurd decision to prosecute a respected and dedicated teacher for supposedly 'assaulting' a youth, although there were no reliable witnesses and although no injury had been inflicted.

I shall now make a confession which may fill the "politically correct" with horror: even if a mild slap had been administrated, in my view a criminal prosecution was wholly disproportionate. Why should a gangster's girlfriend in London get off with a caution for carrying a knife or a gun, but a head teacher in the New Forest be hauled into court for an act of reasonable chastisement?

Where children are concerned, schools act in loco parentis. No-one supports acts of physical cruelty against defenceless children; but there is a world of difference between these and what was alleged to have happened in the case of our local head teacher.

I am sorry that time hangs so heavy on the hands of the CPS that it has nothing better to do than to take a case like this to court – and I am relieved that the judge had the good sense to throw it out. Despite the convoluted excuses given by the CPS after the event, I trust that it will apply some common sense, sort out its priorities, get a grip, and concentrate on prosecuting criminals – not pillars of society.