Thursday, 16 February 2012

I thought English law was about justice?

Apparently not... 

There are many complications within the English law, such as murder many feel there should be a death penalty and look at an ideas of "and eye for an eye" others feel the sentence of life should be life, not 30 years. Some say they should have the chance to go back in society to and have support they need in order to try and reform. But the crime that has really got me at the moment, is the law surrounding joint enterprise.

Joint enterprise is a legal concept that has come into the spotlight in recent years. Offences of violence involving groups of young people has increased, so therefore the law on joint enterprise has increasingly been used by the police in the hope of obtaining convictions of the group even though only one person may have actually committed the offence.

Senior judges and the Law Commission have already expressed concern about the way that joint enterprise is being used in modern times. While this law may be reformed in the coming years, it has been in effect for 300 years, and is not going to change any time soon.

The most famous case of Joint enterprise is of Derek Bentley. Bentley was sentenced to death on 11 December for killing Pc Miles during a bungled break-in at a warehouse in Croydon, Surrey.
The court was told his co-defendant, Christopher Craig, fired the fatal shot but because he was still a juvenile in the eyes of the law he escaped the death sentence. However under the crimes of joint enterprise Bentley was sentenced to death, whereas the actual killer Christopher Craig escaped the death sentence and served 10 years until he could walk free. Is that fair and just?

Bentley was convicted on the basis of police evidence- three officers told the court they had heard him encourage Craig to shoot by shouting "Let him have it".
But what did this mean, was Bentley provoking the murder of Pc Miles, or trying to prevent it? 

The crime of joint enterprise, is one that is continuing to rise in the UK and more and more convictions are occurring, but is it fair that if you don't kill someone and you were just there you can be charged with murder too? Should the law be loosened and if this happened would the amount of gang violence increase? Is the law too strict upon this area?

I feel it is, yes you were there at the time and you could of stopped a murder from happening, but what about the rules on omissions. In this country there is no obligation for you stop and help people. If I was walking down the road and I was a qualified lifeguard and I watched a person drown in a river, knowing full well I could save them and simply walked by, I have no criminal liability as I have no due to act. If you see someone dying in the street millions of people could just walk past and do nothing knowing full well they could prevent it. So why should young people in gang's be able to convicted in being at the scene of the crime and being an involvement in murder. When society ignores the same issues as well, surely they are doing the same thing, being oblivious to the fact. I understand that joint enterprise at lot worse and should be they should be criminal liable, as many young people are involved in carrying weapons, but if you don't physically kill someone, why should you serve a lifetime sentence for being with the wrong person at the wrong time. 


  1. A very thoughtful piece - thankyou for this and we've posted it on JENGbA's blog at

  2. In my opinion your analogy is flawed. By not intervening with the person drowning you are having no effect on events any more than if you were not present - the outcome would have been exactly the same. If you were there and did nothing the person drowns, but if you weren't the person still drowns.

    This is not true in a gang related scene where someone is say, being mugged. If I am surrounded by a group of 6 people all together but only 1 is going to rob me, the other 5 just with their presence are still having a considerable effect on the situation. I.e. I might be able to fight off, run away from or convince another bystander to intervene against 1 or 2, but that's very unlikely against 6. So to put it back into your analogy that's like saying the group of us didn't do anything to save the drowning person, we just stood in the way of the only part of the river bank that the person could climb out of.

    In my opinion the law is far too soft not strict. You and I are both carrying knives together but it's me who draws mine first and stabs who we are fighting, should you be punished just the same as me? Absolutely! Why are you carrying a knife? And please don't say 'for protection' and start spouting the same nonsense the Americans have been clinging to for years with guns. A knife is only a defensive weapon in very very skilled hands, the rest of the time it's purely offensive. The same is true of 'I never planned to use it', that's like a monk that's taken a vow of celibacy always carrying condoms!

    You run with criminals then you run the risk. Don't start bleating when the gamble eventually catches you out. But then I guess there will always be people crying out for the rights of those who break the law... thank god we don't have to worry about the rights of the dead victims any more hey?

    I respect that everyone has different opinions. I just wonder how many of those varied opinions would change if everyone could have a shared experience, say telling a mother her son has been kicked to death by a gang of 15 kids for the £10 he had in his wallet and his mobile phone. Oh not forgetting to tell her the absurd sentences that those responsible will get because we are too soft to give out real sentences any more and we were too worried about criminals rights so we scrapped joint enterprise.

    All that said I have no strong legal knowledge nor was I educated to a particularly high level - just stumbled upon this and felt very strongly that only one side of the coin was really being shown.