The Ministry of Justice has decided to include Wales in a new bill to introduce specific offences relating to mental and physical abuse in hospitals. The Welsh government said they didn’t need the law but some Liebour MPs and a peer complained and the MoJ has changed its mind.
I’ve spent a lot more than average an amount of time in hospitals and I apreciate the work that doctors and nurses do, often putting themselves in dangerous situations for the public good. The same goes for policemen, firemen, etc. But do we need specific laws relating to individual groups of people?
It is already against the law to physically or mentally abuse someone. Whether that someone is a nurse, a policeman, asian or white, it is still against the law. The problem is not with the law as it stands, it is with the way that judges are guided by politicians.
Politicians impose minimum and maximum punishments for crimes so judges can’t decide to punish somebody who’s assaulted a nurse harsher than someone who’s assaulted a drug dealer. So when people complain that hundreds of doctors and nurses a day are being assaulted and that they’re getting away with lenient sentences, their answer is to make a new law introducing a specific offence and a different punishment. But the crime is still the same – an offence against the person contrary to common law.
With new offences being created at an alarming rate and people falling foul of daft, ill-thought out and politically-motivated laws, what we really need is for a major cull of these offences and for politicians to butt out and let judges get on with their jobs. There is no need for specific offences relating to specific groups of people. There is no need for specific offences relating to “motivation”. Offences like racially aggravated assault are no different to any other assault other than the fact that it’s politically expedient to look like it’s being taken more seriously. Physically assaulting a nurse is no different to assaulting a shop keeper but it makes the British government look like they’re caring for people who carry out a public service.
I’m not a nurse, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a fireman, I’m not a politician, I’m not black. I’m white and I’m English and that means that if I got mugged whilst taking the dog out for a walk or walking across the car park or sat at my desk at work, the British government considers my pain and suffering to be less important than that of a nurse or a fireman or an immigrant. Why?