The middle classes. New rules from the Magistrates’ Association, with the support of the Lord Chancellor, mean that high-earners could be fined up to seven times more than those on low incomes for the same offence. A spokesperson said: “The guidelines are intended to achieve equality in punishment. It is clearly unfair to fine someone £100 if they are on income support and £100 for the same offence to someone else on £20,000 a year.”
Wheeling and dealing. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is demanding that the UK Government toughens laws against companies offering bribes to win foreign contracts “as a matter of priority”. In December 1997, the UK signed an OECD convention to combat bribery, which commits signatories to adopt common rules to punish offenders. The UK is the only signatory not to have adopted the legislation, despite UK firms appearing on the World Bank’s list of companies banned from receiving contracts for violating corruption rules.
The entire justice system. Those involved with the courts may have shaken their heads when the Stephen Lawrence enquiry branded police “institutionally racist” but now Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Brooke (above) says that the controversial label should be extended to the courts. According to Brooke, more young black men than white end up in jail – a trend which can not be put down to more crimes being committed by them. “Something is going wrong, probably at each stage of the criminal justice process,” he told a conference.