Sunday Comment: Can’t afford to keep the law?

YT doesn’t get to court as often as they should. We are often pushed to stay for long trials indeed, in three years, we have only covered one trial over three weeks in full and that was the Priscilla Scamp murder trial in January.

But court coverage is so important for all the obvious reasons. It also gives the journalist quite a dilmemma as sometimes you look at some cases and come over all “Guardian” and at other times it can be “Daily Mail” time.

YT was at Basildon magistrates on three occasion over the past two weeks and has started to notice a trend of people who are in such dire financial straits that it may be one of the causes for their offending.

What is important here is to stress that we are not offering excuses. Times are tough but 99% of people obey the law.

We are also aware that defence lawyers have to try certain lines. If you visit youth court, you would be amazed at how many of our young people are on the shortlist for the Olympics.

But time after time over the past few weeks we have seen people who have pled guilty to frauds, thefts, drink-driving who, shaking with remorse in the dock have held open their bills, final demands, eviction notices as well as tales of redundancy and the pressures that it brings.

As we said, this comment isn’t a charter for all people to be found not guilty due to the recession. This is just an observation and something this journalist has seen before.

Twenty years ago, we recall seeing mums from the kiddies and toddlers groups up for embezzlement of the Christmas funds and people from all sorts of professions coming to court as the 16% interest rates bit deeper and deeper.

Back twenty years ago, there were first time bankrobbers using their own car to pull of heists and now there are people hocking their blackberrys to Cashconverters in Romford and then reporting that they have been robbed the next day. Yes, they are desperate acts but these are desperate times for many people.

We will continue to report back from the courts and, as the recession bites deeper, we will see what happens.

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