Comments from a criminal defence lawyer

The problem is that zero-tolerance policies are not compatible with the exercise of reasonable discretion, which in turn is why every household barney must now be categorised as domestic abuse and why police station cells are too full to house real criminals.”

Not our words, although they fit with the experience of many of the fathers who speak to us.  Criminal defence lawyer Willie McIntyre commented in his blog about the Scottish Government’s zero-tolerance policy, featured in the daily Scottish Legal News.

He describes the situation as follows:

I’m a defence lawyer. Commercially, I’d be mad not to encourage more prosecutions, and, yet, where is the public interest in locking up a husband and wife on Christmas Eve, separating them from their child, just so that three days later the Sheriff can admonish him for shouting at her and grant the wife an absolute discharge for giving her husband a push? That was Christmas ruined for one small boy and for a pair of tax-paying, first offenders, their eyes opened to the pettiness of the Scottish criminal justice system. It’s also one example from around eighteen similar cases at Falkirk Sheriff Court on 27th December, no doubt repeated across Scotland.”

His solution: “What we need are trained, sensible people who can view a situation, assess what’s happened and distinguish those who need to be locked up from those who should kiss and make up. We have those people already. Let them do their jobs.”