The real price of justice

I graduated from an English Studies degree at the University of Stirling in June.

On the night of my graduation, while out celebrating with fellow graduates, I was mugged at knife-point in Stirling. The young man demanded my wallet and mobile phone, which I promptly handed over.

The following morning two police officers came to my flat to take a statement about the incident.

They were careful to take as much detail as they could and assured me that they would do all they could to identify the person responsible.

Although I assured them that the mugger hadn’t touched me during the exchange, the officers (at the insistence of their superior) took away the clothing I had worn the night before, for forensic analysis, and assured me that it would be returned as soon as possible to my home address in Northumberland.

The rest of the ensuing several days was spent taking stock of the things I had lost, among them a £20 gift voucher and several important receipts, as well as my five-year student rail card, which cost me £30 to replace.

I also spent time on the (borrowed) phone to banks to cancel my debit cards, and to Vodafone to initiate an insurance claim – at the cost of a £25 excess charge.

Several weeks passed without contact from Central Scotland Police, until I received a phone call informing me that the 15-year-old boy responsible was in custody, but that none of my belongings had been recovered.

I was also informed that because he was under 16 years of age, he would be treated as a minor and therefore released with nothing more than ‘reoffending avoidance measures’.

I was frustrated by the reality that a 15-year-old can be old enough and responsible enough to carry a Stanley knife and threaten complete strangers – I play a lot of rugby and was considerably bigger than him – and yet not old enough to take responsibility for his crime.

I am now living at home with my parents again and working full-time. I recently applied for a replacement driving licence which to my dismay cost me £20. Irrespective of the reason for requiring a replacement it seems this charge is incurred.

Upon reflection, I feel completely let down by the criminal justice system.

It sickens me that these young people and their families can be in receipt of Government benefits while I accumulate an inordinate amount of debt obtaining a degree in order to contribute to a society that seems to me inherently selfish and destructive.

I am also frustrated by the charge for a driving licence replacement – money that goes to the same government that failed to prosecute the offender.

I wanted to write this letter to expose some of the shortcomings in the governance of our state and also to sympathise with those new students in England and Wales who should get mugged (both literally and metaphorically) while also paying the newly-incurred £9,000 tuition fees.

Central Scotland Police, please contact me for a forwarding address for the items of clothing you still unnecessarily deprive me of.

Joe Sutheran,

Northumberland