Proposals to extend on-the-spot fines to include assault and threatening behaviour were unequivocally slammed in the media.
‘Fury at instant fines for violent crime,' ran The Daily Telegraph headline (29 September), as police officers and magistrates' groups condemned the measures as ‘disgusting' (Yorkshire Post, 30 September).
The Magistrates' Association added: ‘The proposals make a mockery of the criminal justice system and downgrade the gravity of offences that should go before the courts' (ananova.com, 29 September).
The Times then revealed that Home Secretary John Reid had swiftly quashed his idea in the wake of the reaction, a move denied by officials. Home Office spokespeople claimed that their ministers had never endorsed the proposals, and insisted the suggestions had instead come from police chiefs themselves.
But against heavyweight opposition, and less than 24 hours after the proposals had been aired, Reid himself then publicly denounced the plans, prompting the headline in a puzzled Times: ‘Reid blocks on-the-spot £100 fines for attackers' (30 Sep).
Maybe Reid is planning on-the-spot fines for Home Office moles.