Thursday, 24 July 2008

5/- fine for cycling without lights

Before the Statist central control of sentencing over the last twenty or thirty years, a magistrates' bench pretty well made up its own mind on which were important offences and which they considered trivial. A succession of minimum fines for a particular offence signalled to police officers not to bother bringing miscreants to court; thus prosecutions for the offences of riding a bicycle without lights, or a bell, fell into gradual desuetude after 5/- fines became the norm. Or 25p for our younger readers. So reading on the Beeb today that

A pub landlady has been prosecuted for allowing customers to smoke in her pub, and smoking behind the bar herself.

An undercover investigator sent by the council to the Stag's Head pub in Barnstaple, saw people smoking inside. Landlady Joanne Kendall admitted breaching the Health Act 2006 and was fined £130 plus costs by Barnstaple magistrates. The local council had been alerted by other pub landlords claiming they were losing customers to the Stag's Head.

Tends to suggest that the bench would rather be bothered by something more serious - the maximum is £5,000. When a £10 fine becomes the norm, you can assume that quite sensibly no one will bother enforcing the law at all any more.

1 comment:

Mac the Knife said...

Bravo Barnstaple bench. Would that some of the others had a sense of proportion so well developed. Lex mal, lex nulla...