Tag Archives: crime

September 14th 2011 – Wire brushing some metal railings

20 Sep

Much the same start as last week. Sign in be made to feel like an intellectual inferior (although I have at this point yet to meet someone here who does not seem like a brain-dead zombie) and then put into groups and stuck in the van. This time our destination is quite close but work is still preceded by cups of tea and coffee and does not being until about 11am. We are at a block of council flats which have a latticework of white metal railing zing -zaged around the grounds. We are told that they need painting, but before painting they need undercoating and before that they need all the rust and flaky paint taking off them. This seems reasonable I think, right up until I am handed a pair of old gloves and a flimsy wire brush. I walk up to the railing and have a go. It may sound strange but I actually want to work hard at this. I can’t help that this whole stupid mess happened, I can’t change the judges mind and I can’t help that I am taking one day a week off from my actual work (where not only do I earn more I actually do something worthwhile) to come to a probation office and do community service. So if I have to spend my time here once a week I may as well not waste it! Helping the community should be a positive thing I might gain some sort of satisfaction from making the place I live a slightly nicer place to be. But no. After 5 minutes with the flimsy wire brush it became very apparent that this was the wrong tool for the job. I had a brush when what I needed was a grizzly disc or a power sander. The wire brush did less than nothing I mean no matter how much elbow grease you put in it really did do fuck all! I decided to talk to the officer a different one from last time. He told me to shut up and get on with it. I did shut up and get on with it for another half an hour. It was like removing graffiti with the eraser on the top of a pencil. I called him over to show him why this really was a waste of time. He wasn’t interested and wandered off. It was now that I met and spoke to the first person doing this community service and had a proper conversation. He was a guy in his 50s and seemed quite intelligent we had apparently been busted for selling knock off DVDs, which in all fairness is a hard crime to commit, by accident but all in all he seemed like a nice guy. We both complained about how stupid this all was as we worked away on the railing still to no avail. And it was at this point that I decided that all this needed to be written down and sent to the government or a newspaper or something and it was my father who suggested I blog it. Why was I here? Well it was because in one capacity or another I broke the law. Ok fine lets accept that for the minute. Now let’s ask it again. Why was I here? Was it a mindless task given as punishment? Is that all it is? If it is that’s fine but don’t call it community service by the end on day two I would have done nearly 15 supposed hours and not a single one NOT A SINGLE ONE! was in anyway service to the community. Up until now the tax payers (which since the age of 18 has included me!) have paid to give people community service. We pay for the building and the staff and the vans and equipment and for what? For nothing of any value at all! This of course will change when they privatize the probation trust which then means that the unpaid work will go to which ever companies pay most for it and being of no possible use to the community again! It will in fact be legal slave labor at that point. The thing that got me so worked up as I stood there with my shitty little wire brush and a railing on irremovable rust was why if we could not be found relevant places to work and then made to work all the hours we were supposed too rather than do 4 or 5 in what is meant to be a 7.15 hour day. Why instead are the people here who don’t have a job, didn’t go to school and will never learn a trade being squandered with wire brushes and railing? The probation office building is a big one. Give them a choice! You can tickle a fence with a brush or get there at 9am sit in a classroom until 4pm and pass your English or math’s GCSE! Or learn some computer skills and get a recognized qualification at the end of it. Or be made to show up for some sort of apprenticeship to learn brick laying or plumbing. That would be community service wouldn’t it? Moving people off the dole and into work as tax paying member of society? Would that not keep them from reoffending much better than a wire brush and rusty rail will? Either educate and help the uneducated and helpless or give us something more meaningful to do than fucking NOTHING!


September 7th 2011 – Weeding an old peoples home

20 Sep

I had been given a date to go see my probation officer who ended up not being there when I arrived for my meeting and so was met by someone else who spent half an hour getting me to sign forms and then arranged my first day of unpaid work which would be September 7th. I was told that I should arrive at 9am and stand round the back.

I arrived at 9am to a small crowd of adidas and knock off burberry not the usual crowd I would stand around with if I’m honest. At 9:15am we are lead into a waiting room where we give our names pick up so old stinking steel toecap boot and then wait. All everyone is talking about is how many hours they each have left to serve and how much they hate doing this every week. After about 45 minutes we are finally put into small groups of between 6 and 8 and then handed orange jackets with “Community payback” written in big letters on the back.  It is impossible not to feel like a lesser person when in this situation. I couldn’t believe hat woodcarving had landed me in what felt like a school detention. Being talked down to as if you were a complete idiot. It made me feel quite angry. Why should my supposed crime make me a moron? Just because I somehow ran afoul of the law does that automatically mean I’m an uneducated delinquent? Steven Fry went to jail and he’s a nation treasure! Anyway all this aside we are then piled into vans laden with tools and we’re on the road. At this point none of us know what it is we’re going to be doing or where. We arrive half an hour later (about 10:30am) at an old people home we unload the van and then are walked around to a little staff area where we are given tea and aloud to smoke if we so wish. Here we sit with our one community officers who is also drinking tea and reading the Sun for another half an hour. We finally start work just after 11am. The officer is pretty vague about what it is the 8 of us are supposed to be doing. “Get rid of weed and that” is the only real direction we are given. So I get on my hands and knees and start pulling up the unwanted flora. One young guy has already lost interest and is idly hacking at an old tree with a set of garden shears. One or two of the other lads seem to be working relatively hard and everyone else just seems to be stood staring into space. Then it starts to rain. Not heavily just a light spit and instantly all tools are dropped without as much as a word said and everyone heads back for the staff room. I kneel up to see the community officer gesturing to me to follow. I do and we sit inside for another hour drinking tea while the light rain passes (it is at this point interesting to note that the light rain that obviously was unworkable in didn’t stop anyone including the officer from going outside for a smoke). We go back outside and carry on for about 20 minutes before it is apparently time for lunch. So back inside for another hour to eat the food we have been told to bring with us and also the home made soup that the people at the old folks home have made for us. At just after 1pm we head back outside to do some more work. So far even with 8 people it’s impossible to see if any work has actually been done at all. We carry on as before for about another hour when suddenly there is a yelp from over by a bush after the commotion has settled it is apparent that one man has upset a bee’s nest and has been stung twice on the back of the head. He is told to sit down which he does for 10 minutes or so before a decisions is made that he must be taken to hospital so we all pack up the van leave all the dug up weed all over the ground so that in fact the old people home looks in a worse state than it did when we arrived and head for the general infirmary.  Some people get dropped off near there houses on the way to hospital but are told that they will not be able to count an hour or so as worked if they don’t stay, this doesn’t seem to stop many of them so most leave. We get to the hospital and the man goes in three of us and the officer sit in the van and wait when it get to 3:50pm we are told we can go and given a little green slip to say we have done 7.15 hours work for the community. Hang on a minute! How is that right we have done barely 3 hours work and in those 3 hours actually made the place look worse. I walk home feeling perplexed and wondering if what I had just experienced was a typical day of community service as it turned out by next week things got even more ridicules.

Arrested, court and sentencing

20 Sep

Earlier this year I was arrested for position of a bladed article in a public place. As the court heard and understood I was sat on a bench whittling a piece of wood (as was my want on that occasion as it often is or I suppose now was). To cut an incredibly long story short after my arrest I was charged and had to appear at magistrate’s court as it appeared the knife I was using was 1/8 of an inch over the three-inch limit for pocketknives. The knife itself was a small wooden handled DIY wood knife that I had purchased many years earlier in a small fishing shop in Whitby and in good faith and completely unwitting to me was apparently not lawful to have anywhere other than inside your own home. My solicitor explained to me that pleading guilty to the charge was the best course of action for at no point did I deny having the pocketknife only that I was using it as a tool for a hobby and that I had no idea it was not an ok thing to do. To my horror I suddenly found myself possibly facing a jail sentence despite the fact that it was obvious I had not threatened anyone and that I had never been in trouble for anything before. So here I was sat in court my freedom balancing on the scales of justice in a situation I had never thought myself possible to be in. The dreadful case went on for months until on the final day (after a probation report in which the officer made the conclusion that I was little threat to anyone and unlikely to fall foul of the law again) I was given 150 hours community service.

So why am I writing a blog? Blogging is not something I’ve done before and not something I was ever planning to do but after a couple of weeks of “serving the community” I feel what goes on in this unpaid work and how probation officers and the law deal with people who have been given a community order an what they actually do is not really known by the average member of the public. So here it is from me! I have decided to write this under a fake name and not disclose any locations so that what is written in this blog can remain utterly honest. So I shall be assuming the name Abel Magwitch.

Hope you find what i have to say of importance or at least of interest.