‘I Will Build an Ark’– Part 2
At Wandsworth Probation Office the first cases come in, Tony dishes out two each. Michael reads the files: police statements, court records, defending solicitor’s notes but nothing from social services for these two.
He sets out his own report. As much as he dislikes the labels he describes both kids as ‘good youths from lower class backgrounds, two-parent family roots’. Both ‘clearly got caught up in unusual circumstances and went wrong’. He concludes that they ‘should be open to amending their thinking and thus, their behaviours, if found in similar situations in the future’. His risk assessment is ‘very low’, he proposes community service only.
The next day are the interviews.
‘Right then Calvin, the court has convicted you of two crimes, it doesn’t matter whether you are guilty or not. Damage to property is less serious and community service,’ he does the speech marks thing, “to repair” that damage is the usual punishment. As for the theft well that’s a bit heavier, but as you’re a first-timer, I’ll be recommending more community service, so you shouldn’t be detained, okay?’
‘Yes. Sir.’ Michael like the ‘sir’, raises his chin.
‘And you won’t get involved in the future?’
‘No sir. Dad’s seeing to that. He’s treasurer of the local traders’ association.’
‘I read that,’ Michael had sniggered aloud. ‘So what on earth were thinking?’
‘Just the excitement. Throwing something, really hard, at the huge windows, shattering, the noise of the glass, all the others shouting, there was so much energy man. People were loving it, you never get the chance do you?’
Back at the office another few cases sit on his desk. Michael works late, goes through all three making provisional notes. He leans back in his chair. Even younger and two of them include violence, one against a policeman. The oldest, still only sixteen, was taken down to watch the rioting by his father of all people.
Finally, the first sentences are handed out. His first two get custodials; twelve and fourteen months. Not what he had been expecting. He goes to see Tony.
‘Jesus, you seen these? Flipping heavy ain’t it?’ Michael says.
‘You’re not wrong. They’ve been given a three liner I’d say, your first two weren’t anybody were they? See, politics handing out the punishment. Can’t let this happen again can he, old Cameron?’
‘You know I think it’s bloody right, you can’t let these weasels get away with this innocence thing. “I just got caught up, peer pressure. I’m so good normally, I don’t understand what came over me.” Crap. Revert to fuckin’ stone age men given half a chance, the bastards. It’s bloody good they get some back, some prison time, make ‘em think.’
‘You finished there, rant over?’ Tony’s laughing at him. Michael laughs too.
‘I’m bloody right though.’