The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Monday, October 31, 2005


I was in a grotty part of Manchester at the weekend and while stuck in traffic in an area which was teeming with people, I noticed a tall man wearing a black balaclava which had eyeholes only, and gave its wearer a very menacing appearance. The car in front of me was a small hatchback driven by a lone woman. Without warning, balaclava man strode to her car and tried the nearside door handle. Fortunately it was locked, and he returned to lounge in the bus shelter he had come from. I had locked my car as soon as I had realised what was going on,and the traffic cleared in a short while but the incident left my passengers shaken, and me thoughtful.

I acted defensively, just as most people would have done, but I went on to wonder what I would have done if balaclava man had got the car door open. My problem, in common with most men of my generation, is that I don't know how to fight. I could not have sat in my car and watched a lone woman being attacked, but how much use could I have been if I had intervened, as I would have done? My father's generation had a tough upbringing, as well as military training. They could all, more or less, look after themselves. I last had a fight at the age of fifteen and I would be easy meat for practically any hooligan.

That led me to contemplate the current media and political panic over hooligan-type behaviour, and it dawned on me that the basis of most people's concern is a feeling of impotence in the face of violence, or the threat of it. If an adult can approach a drunken hooligan with the confidence that he can if necessary restrain him then he is likely to do so. If not, he is likely to hang back.

Perhaps offering the populace training in basic self defence, of the kind that will keep you in one piece for the minute or two that it will take for help to arrive, would do more to deter the yobs than anything else.

I am not seriously suggesting a new Dad's Army, but it does seem to me that a defenceless population will always be preyed on by fit and predatory young men.