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Day: July 18, 2012

‘You were a graffiti artist in the last century Sir? Well that means you are banned from public transport in 2012’

Twitter is sometimes really an excellent source of information. This lunchtime I saw a tweet with a link to an article on The London Vandal website. Not what you’d call really my natural territory. Being someone who is very boring an law abiding and who lets say didn’t exactly set the art world on fire before dropping it full-time after Year Nine. A website on graffiti was’t one that I had visited before. However…

The story linked was about how the police had gone on mass raids across the capital of known graffiti artists a couple of weeks before the Olympics. Seems a bit heavy handed on the face of it but when you delve further into the piece you will see that it isn’t about keeping these scallywags away from the games but these scallywags as it were aren’t actually scallywags at all. I just used the word scallywags three times in a sentence. I don’t think that would’ve gone down well with my print tutor at university but still…

Anyway these people who were rounded up and arrested and charged on decade old trumped up charges aren’t active in the graffiti community any more. They are regular Joe’s. It is a bit like all those men who were involved in football violence in the 80s. Most of them are now in there 40s and 50s and live regular lives. The football violence is something in their past. It is the same with these people but it seems the British Transport Police aren’t as convinced.

Slapping them with bail conditions that they can’t use any public transport or go within a mile of any Olympics venue is (to me) an extremely scary issue. It is clearly using powers they have to get what they want even if legal they are not moral. It is abusing powers to the utmost degree and trying to solve a non-existent problem. That is the sign of a police state and these actions (if we are taking the story and their sources at face value) that were taken against these bunch of people is not fair and it is not right.

I know there are bigger issues at hand and security is an important issue but this isn’t about security. This is about people abusing their powers as they are scared that there might be a bit of graffiti in London when the world is watching. Being arrested and bailed just so they can put extreme bail conditions on people is not how the law should work.

Again taking this report as gospel this is an absolute disgrace and those officers who decided that it was worthwhile are a disgrace to their profession. The thing is no doubt they think it’s a job well done. Rustling up a few low level criminals from a decade or more ago just in case they decide to do a bit of graffiti during the Olympics is appalling. Is this the country we live in these days? I’m afraid folks it is.

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The growing rate and the damaging impact of false rape allegations

I have been writing away from here again. Bad Neil. Expanding my audience. Today my début piece on The Periscope Post went up. I’ll be writing weekly over at said site on a variety of issues. I chose to have a nice upbeat topic for my first piece – about false rape allegations. Yeah all sweetness and light eh? Anyway here we go…

There are very few things everyone reading this piece will agree on. One of those things will be that rape is one of the most disgusting (if not the most disgusting) crimes that any human being can perpetrate. However is someone claiming rape when in fact no crime has taken place just as bad?

When thinking about what I should write for my first piece on The Periscope Post I threw out the idea of writing about this subject to a couple of friends and to say the response was cold would understate exactly what they thought. However it is something that has been growing (or at least the reporting of it has been growing) in recent years.

This week a 27 year-old woman from Aberbargoed, Caerphilly in South Wales was jailed for two years and eight months for making up a rape claim. She claimed rape because she was late home from a night of partying and thought that her parents would shout at her unless she had a good reason. So instead of apologising for staying out longer than she planned to she decided to cry rape.

Luckily for the two men arrested this girl cracked quite quickly and admitted that she lied in just her second interview with police. There will always be those who won’t believe them though. Mud sticks as they say and a rape allegation and arrest will always produce some stigma.

Two months ago 20 year-old Hannah Bryon made up a rape allegation in an attempt to win back an ex-boyfriend. The student told her ex of the alleged attack and then claimed that the story snowballed out of control. Yet again the police arrested a man who was detained and subject to all the usual DNA probing but when nothing untoward was found he was let go. This young lady though didn’t even get sent to jail as she received a 12-month suspended prison sentence and 150 hours of community service.

Just a quick Google search brings up many stories that are similar to the two above. I remember several years ago of a man who was remanded in custody for nine months of accusations of rape only for evidence to come out that he had never even met the victim. It was two years after he was released that the interview was conducted and he couldn’t hold down a job and had basically been suffering from depression since his arrest.

Quoting from a story written on the thisisessex website we see exactly why false allegations of rape are a serious crime.

The 18-year-old victim was kept in custody for 16 hours and intimate medical samples were taken.

The couple’s false claim unravelled when a witness and CCTV backed up his account.

However, as a result of the allegation the victim lost his accommodation, his job and the trust of his family.

So someone lost their accommodation, their job and the trust of his family and the two people that accused him and led to his life essentially being destroyed was a nine-month sentence. That seems pretty pathetic to me.

In another case the defence team said that the defendant used the false rape allegation as a ‘cry for help’ and that a prison sentence would leave her unable to look after her daughter so therefore she should be spared jail. The judge disagreed and Jessica Day of Corringham, Essex was jailed for two years in 2008.

If I had time I could give you many more examples. These cases are starting to become more commonplace but the sentencing is all over the shop. In September last year Rebecca Howard from Deal in Kent got a four month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service. It was the same crime as Jessica Day in the paragraph above and yet the sentence was wildly different.

Considering what a disgusting act rape is to falsely accuse someone of such an act is reprehensible. It makes real rape victims think more than twice about coming forward. I often wonder how these people who make false allegations sleep at night or how they feel when they read about real rapes in the newspapers or watch reconstructions on Crimewatch. Do they not realise what they are a) putting an innocent person through and b) doing to real rape victims?

Going back to the case at the very top of this piece about Emma Jones from South Wales. This is in part what was said in the judge’s summing up.

Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told her: ‘Every false allegation of rape increases the plight of those women who are genuinely victims of rape.

‘It makes their allegations harder to prove as juries are concerned at the possibility of convicting an innocent man.

‘When a rape allegation is made it’s often very difficult to prove but also very difficult to refute and those accused can suffer from the stigma attached.’

He is spot on. A false rape allegation is not a victimless crime. In fact there are two distinct victims, the innocent party and all the real rape victims out there. I think there should be a new crime that specifically targets false rape allegations. Not the type where a jury doesn’t convict but ones where it is found out it was completely made up. It should be punishable by a serious sentence not suspended jail sentences.

Are false allegations of rape just as bad as rape itself? The answer to that is no but the gap between the two crimes isn’t exactly chasm either. A false rape allegation can easily ruin a life and when it is done by someone with no mental issues for reasons such as not wanting to get shouted at by their parents or to try and win back an ex partner then people should face real consequences.

So yeah my first piece on this site about false rape allegations. Hopefully the next piece will be a bit more lighted hearted…

This was originally posted over on The Periscope Post and this is the raw unedited version.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.