22/07/14 Joint Enterprise – are we all culpable?

The law of Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose came under close scrutiny in a recent TV crime drama by Jimmy McGovern.

Don’t worry, just because I buggered my knee, I haven’t decided to try my hand at TV reviews…but have you seen…?

In this one-off story he told the tale of a young man who drove some wayward mates to get a pizza – one of them killed a guy in the takeaway – they all ran back to the car where the driver was waiting to return home with some tasty goodies.

Instead of the delicious aroma of Italy he was met with alarmed shouts of, ‘Drive, drive, drive!!!’

Joint enterprise is a 300 year old law that was brought about to stop people supporting duellists, er, duelling…

In recent years this crime of association has been used in a large number of murders where either it wasn’t completely clear as to who did what to whom and when – but it sure as hell was one of you – which was incredibly useful in the trial of the killers of Stephen Lawrence; or one where the accused could have reasonably known that his friend, Tam the Bam, was likely to commit crime ‘x’ in that particular situation.

Like so many in his predicament, the driver of the takeaway, now getaway, car was convicted of manslaughter by association.

From a recent freedom of information request it was found that around 17.7% of all homicide charges and 44% of homicide prosecutions where there were 2 or more defendants, had relied on the joint enterprise doctrine.

Concerns have been raised by many of those effected by this law from all it’s angles – from lawyers to the incarcerated – suggesting that the law is confusing – is used inconsistently – that it requires a greatly reduced burden of proof to stick someone in prison for joint enterprise than for the original crime, be that assault, manslaughter or murder – and that young, working class males from housing estates are over represented in the figures.

Damian Green, the justice minister, has said this law is fine and it isn’t going to be changed any time soon… Yes, I am paraphrasing there…

But what about you? What about me? What about more middle class, white collar crime?

Bankers?

Andy Coulson?

Tony Blair and Iraq?

Iain Duncan Smith?

Cases where you find yourself saying,

‘I always knew he was dodgy…’

‘Yeah, he grabbed my arse…’

Cases where you know prejudice has taken place?

Where someone didn’t get employed because…well, you’d followed the anti discriminatory guidelines…but you knew through a friend that James was the right man for the job – he just had a bad interview…sure,she had all the experience and the qualifications, but you had a gut feeling that…or, I know we don’t discriminate on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religious belief, but…

And that’s a great big BUT.

People discriminate, abuse and get up to all kinds of shit openly, under the gaze of others.

Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

Bad things happen when YOU do nothing.

Sure, justify it to yourself, what can I do? I’m too busy…these people should take a chill-pill…it’s not that bad…

It’ll fuck up my career if I blow the whistle.

Hell, we even discriminate against ourselves – I feel stressed/ mental/ ill (insert anything you can imagine here) but if I show any kind of weakness I’m fucked…

We watch colleagues and friends struggle and we do nothing.

Social workers, doctors, nurses, lawyers…name any profession…we see austerity cuts come in and we’re complicit with them – through omission – we’re worried about our jobs, our potential for promotion…we don’t want to rock the boat…my job’s hard enough without…Shit, I’m doing my best here!

I don’t vote because they’re all wankers…

Why not lobby?

Your MP’s and councillors all have to have surgeries where we, the great unwashed, can get our greasy paws on them…? Voting really is the least of it.

I don’t watch the news because it’s so depressing/ right wing/ left wing biased/ boring…

We live in the age information – through a multitude of screen based devices the world, or representations of it dribble in through our eyes and ears 24/7.

There are so many alternatives/ slants/ ways of looking at the same situation.

Is this all joint enterprise? Are we all responsible for our lot?
Do we share the common purpose of those who tell us they’re leading the way?

If so, why aren’t we doing something about it?

As Gandhi seemingly never said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’

It’s a long story, but well worth the read here

But you get the idea…

Otherwise we’re all guilty.

Walk a mile

Chris

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