I have a few blogs that I read as part of my daily routine and a few of those have made me stop and think recently.

Inspector Gadget posted some time ago about the horrifying case of a young police constable who was beaten and left in a vegetative state by what appears to be two young men with a complete and utter disregard for the law. To make matters worse, the Appeals Court have reduced their sentences for, at the moment, reasons unknown.

Horrifying as this case is, it’s not what’s made me stop and think.

Inspector Gadget posted a vitriolic rant on the Appeals Court and their decision to reduce the sentence to which my initial response was “woah, hang on a minute, you don’t know the facts.” I suspected that the Inspector had let his emotions get ahead of him as we all can find from time to time.

Bystander, an English Magistrate posted on the comments seen on the original Inspector Gadget’s article. His concern was that police officers were posting ill-informed and judgemental opinions without knowing the full facts of the case, somethign I noticed and agreed with him. I expected better of police officers, who deal on a day-to-day  basis with cases where inaccurate or incomplete information is all you have to go on.

What I do find very unfortunate is that Inspector Gadget has seen Bystander’s comments as a personal attack it seems and worse, seems to agree with some of the quite frankly daft comments on his blog. [Update: Inspector Gadget’s toned down his comments now]

Don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for the police and will happily give them the benfit of the doubt – I work closely enough with them to know that they carry out a very difficult job and it’s somethign I wouldn’t do. However. it seems to me in this case that Bystander’s right. Whilst I am saddened that the Appeals Court has seen fit to reduce these men’s sentence, I refuse to comment on the appropriateness of that action without seeing the facts of the case. I have too little information to form an objective opinion.

And there lies my problem with Gadget and some of his supporters. They haven’t formed an objective opinion based on the facts, something I’d expect police officers to do almost without thinking. That expectation comes from dealing with incidents which the police are called to (and subsequently call us) and the observations I’ve made of varoius police officers over the past few years.

I’ve also seen a conversation revolving around an alleged juror’s comments. At the moment, it’s hearsay, being that the original poster refuses to provide details of a verifiable source. As such, in my opinion, valuable though those comments may be, I cannot in good faith accept those comments as a contribution to the debate. Whilst I personally do believe that the comments are true, without a verifiable source, they’re worthless. I could just as easily post comments on my blog, passing them off as truth and refusing to reveal my source. Sorry Praguetory, but snoopy is right – without a verifiable source your comments are unfortunately worthless.

Finally, and what disturbs me most, is the fact that commenters on Inspector Gadget’s blog have used the fact that Bystander’s an objective observer as an insult:

“…delivering his moral judgement in the comfort of his/her chair far from the stress and pressure of actual policing.”

Sorry, but isn’t that the point? To have someone pass judgement on the facts of the case in an objective and impassionate manner? Without having been affected by the emotions of the moment? To pass judgement in the cold light of day? I thought that’s what the whole point of the justice system was.

So, yes, I agree with Bystander on this one. Until I have enough verified information on this matter, I’m reserving commennt on the reduction of the sentence. Sorry Inspector, I think you’r too close to things on this one.

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