I am 45 and in a rapidly diminishing minority. I have not yet been criminalised. Surely it is now a matter of time before I slip up on a speed trap (I drive a Porsche), a wheelie bin infringement (not actually got to wheelie bins where I live) or get caught accidentally snapping a copper on my mobile phone .
I have come perilously close – I was stopped a while back on the M11 for eating tic tacs . The policeman is his unmarked police car was absolutely certain that I was “using a mobile phone whilst driving in the outside lane” – I am not sure what the outside lane had to do with it by the way but thats another matter. When I explained that what he saw was me necking a few tic tacs he was having none of it. Even when I brandished the box at him (hmm that was risky with hindsight). Fortunately for me my mobile was actually in my handbag in the boot of my car – so that would have been a pretty magnificent feat had I achieved it. Lucky escape.
But I am quite clearly living on borrowed time – only a matter of time before some agency or other catches up with me.
It is reported today that Parliamentary answers show the number of first-time entrants to the criminal justice system who are over 50 increased by 46.3 per cent between 2000/01 and 2007/08, from 16,400 to 24,000. In the 40-49 age group, the leap was 57.4 per cent, with 32,900 previously law-abiding people being criminalised. The increases in the middle-aged groups far outstripped the general picture. In the population as a whole, there was a rise of just 18.6 per cent.
There we all were worrying about drunken teenagers littering our streets on a Friday night, looking at us in a menacing way, and its the parents that are the real criminals!
But seriously, as Chris Huhne so rightly said “Labour have criminalised a generation and treated tens of thousands of law-abiding middle-aged and elderly citizens like villains.” And all in the name of “targets”. May that word be banned from the lexicon of the next government.
The only group of over 40′s that seem to be able to avoid criminalisation are those residing in the House of Commons and House of Lords (after the last election the average age of an MP was 50) . They appear to be able to cheat, lie and thieve to their hearts content, and when they get caught, say sorry and at worst pay back a small proportion of what they took. And of course that is not forgetting war criminals. You may be prosecuted for not wearing a seatbelt – but are made president of Europe no less if take your country into an illegal war.
So, as I do not see a peerage coming my way anytime soon, there would appear to be only one option left open to me. I must stand as an MP at the next general election. That way I might, just might, escape the increasingly long arm of the law.