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Terrorised mum pays the penalty

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What kind of justice is this?

Our correspondent writes ...

My blood almost boiled when I read the BBC headline that just popped up on my RSS newsfeed reader.

A young mum in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was given an eighteen-month community order with a supervision requirement, and a 43 fine, for slapping three yobs who had made life hell for her and her family over a considerable period.

These worthless cretins occupied her garden late at night playing loud music, they threatened her, they threw bottles at her windows, and they terrorised her children so much that they were afraid to go out. The mother herself was even scared to go out on nights when her partner was not in the house.

Eventually, Samantha Nicholson snapped. She dished out some well-deserved punishment. And then she was taken to court on three counts of assault.

Although this kind of thing is becoming ever more common, the reason I took particular notice of this episode is that I used to live near the Lund Wood area of Barnsley back in the 1960s when I worked in the district for a while. It was a ghastly place then and it may not have changed over the years. The streets were constantly strewn with broken bricks, mountains of free coal filled the miners' gardens, and the kids roamed around totally out of control.

They say you should never go back to a place for fear of disappointment, but Lund Wood was a place you would never want to go back to anyway. Not if you got the chance to escape as I did.

In the Barnsley court, Judge Michael Rosenburg had some sympathy for Samantha Nicholson. He understood the circumstances she had tolerated and acknowledged she had become a 'prisoner in her own home'. He even urged the police and the council to help her escape from the area she lived in. Yet he still found her guilty of the charges.

When will the courts realise that we are witnessing the second or even third generation of yob culture? Today's yobs are so often the sons and daughters of yobs, and it will only get worse unless someone makes a stand against the largely unpunished loutish behaviour we witness on our streets all the time.

How good it would have been if the judge had acquitted Samantha and instead had the three yobs arrested on the spot. At a later date they could have been tried for the crimes they committed that caused Ms Nicholson to finally lose her rag. Perhaps they could even have tried their parents for failing to bring their children up correctly and for failing to ensure that they behaved responsibly to other people.

If the politicians, the police and the courts do not face up to the escalating problems on our streets, more and more decent people will reach the point where enough is enough. Eventually they will become so frustrated seeing yobs continually escape punishment. more will take the law into their own hands.

No-one wants to see this happen but it can be prevented if the truly-guilty culprits are brought to book.

In the city I now live in, the Borough Police Commander (who, from his photograph, looks as though he should still be wearing a school uniform) constantly trots out statistics designed to show that street crime in the borough is on the decrease. The people who live in the borough actually disbelieve these statistics because they witness the uncontrollable bursts of violence and vandalism on the streets, in the parks, and on the buses. The statistics are either a figment of someone's imagination or they are the results of a PR-influenced spin campaign intended to mislead.

The Borough Commander tries to tell us how the Metropolitan Police work unflinchingly with the Community Safety Partnership and the council under the "Community Safety Action Zone" banner to give us a safer neighbourhood. Perhaps there's something similar in Barnsley, or Sunderland, or anywhere else in the country but people like our Borough Commander need to realise that the only answer is to have real policemen on the streets dealing with the problems at source. And they need to be led by senior officers who have worked up from the cadet basement, through the ranks, and learned their trade the hard way. Not by someone who has graduated with a decent degree and gone straight on the fast track to the top. We've got far too many of them already.

In the old days, policemen used to know how to deal with problems. They didn't have to consult with civilian committees and spend most of their time fudging up statistics. They got out on the beat and got things sorted.

But those were the days when PC stood for Police Constable not Political Correctness!

Fortunately, there are some good judges. Click here for an example.

Editorial Comment:

Samantha Nicholson ... you have the sympathy of many people who would do exactly as you have done if they weren't suppressed by penalties that hit victims rather culprits.

Your nerves were frayed and you finally saw red. Some of us understand how that happens and we empathise. You have been punished unfairly but your tormentors will assuredly continue to make life hell for you.

You need to get away from Lund Wood. It always was a shit hole and it doesn't sound like it's changed much. Grasp the reins and go. It's not perfect anywhere in the UK these days but there are better places than Barnsley. Search and you will find one of them.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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