Janet Street-Porter: We need female judges to punish these predators
22:24 GMT, 14 October 2012
The glass ceiling turns out to be made of reinforced concrete. A new President of the Supreme Court — Britain’s most senior judge — has just started work, and guess what It’s a man.
When Ken Clarke was Justice Secretary and appeared before a House of Lords Committee, he couldn’t even remember how many female judges sat in the Supreme Court.
Well, there’s only one out of 12 — Lady Brenda Hale, who was overlooked for the top job. What message does that send to the 51 per cent of the population who are female
Ken Clarke couldn't even remember how many female judges sat in the Supreme Court
The Prime Minister and our political leaders waffle about equality — but the top tiers of the police and judiciary are overwhelmingly male and middle-aged.
Despite more women entering the legal profession — 62 per cent of law students are female — they never manage to claw their way up the heady pinnacles of power: only 22 per cent of judges are female.
It’s the same in the police force. Out of 43 forces in England and Wales, six have female bosses, of which one is in an acting capacity.
Well over a quarter of the force are female, and in a recent study, two-thirds of them said they had ambitions to rise through the ranks.
At the current rate, that could be a long wait, especially as the Government has imposed a 20 per cent cut on the policing budget, and the number of officers is falling.
Compared to other countries, we have an appalling track record. A recent EU report said only Azerbaijan and Armenia have fewer female judges than we do!
Why do I think women would make a difference The sentencing of comedian and TV presenter Justin Lee Collins to just 140 hours of community service and a pitiful 3,500 costs for a sustained period of repulsive treatment including ritual humiliation of his former girlfriend made me very angry indeed.
The sentencing of comedian and TV presenter Justin Lee Collins to just 140 hours of community service and a pitiful 3,500 costs for a sustained period of repulsive treatment including ritual humiliation of his former girlfriend made me very angry indeed
What message does that send out to other men who victimise their partners You’ll get away with it, but you might have to empty litter bins or clean a few public toilets
Thank goodness the Government has decided to change the law so that harassment and controlling behaviour will be reclassified as domestic abuse and liable for stiffer sentences.
Even so, judges can use their discretion. All too often we hear of rapists and sex offenders being given a ‘second chance’ by men in wigs sitting in judgment.
After Judge John Plumstead decided not to jail Collins when the celebrity was found guilty of harassment at St Albans Crown Court last week, domestic violence charities called the sentence ‘derisory’.
Mr Collins’ former wife had given the court a character reference for him — one that I would have treated with a pinch of salt. When did the testimony of relatives and former partners count as the unbiased gospel truth
Anna Larke, his former girlfriend, clearly has her own problems. She is a recovering alcoholic and, despite being treated so appallingly, still says she loves him.
More from Janet Street Porter…
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S he’s a classic example of a weak woman addicted to a man who treats her badly. Even so, a female judge would surely have handed out a different sentence.
Women notice things that men don’t — our experience of families and relationships colours our judgment.
Last week, one of our most senior judges, Baroness Butler-Sloss, a former President of the High Court family division, told the House of Lords she was shocked by the failure of the police and social services in Rochdale and Rotherham to step in and halt the sustained sexual grooming of underage children over a six-year period.
Many of the girls involved were in children’s homes, and when they went to the police, no action was taken. Dozens of girls were systematically sexually abused by gangs of older men, and none of the child protection agencies did anything.
The head of social services for vulnerable children in Rochdale resigned only last week, after a damning review into the scandal.
Baroness Butler-Sloss said ‘as a nation we should feel ashamed we cannot protect our teenage girls’.
A sentiment we all share in the light of the Jimmy Savile allegations. Why did no one in the police or social services do anything
The only answer must be to fast-track women through the ranks of the police and the judiciary — we do see things differently.
From here to paternity with Kirstie
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have said it’s important for new parents to spend as much time as possible with their babies, and plan to announce plans for flexible parental leave any day now.
This proposal would allow women who are the main wage earners in a household to return to work after just two weeks, allowing their partners to take the remainder of the maternity leave.
For the first time, both parents will be entitled to share the joint benefit.
At last the Coalition has come up with a practical plan that could benefit working mums, a group who have accused politicians from all parties of not listening to their interests.
Kirstie isn't much a fan of paternity leave
TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp isn’t much of a fan of paternity leave — interviewed to promote her forthcoming book and TV series Kirstie’s Vintage Home, she denigrates it as ‘pointless . . . though many men I know absolutely love it because they can go and sit in the shed’.
Kirstie is a selective feminist, as you might expect from someone privately educated, whose dad is a lord.
Another Kirstie gem is ‘you do need to feed boys if you want them to do something’ — pre-supposing that ‘boys’ have no idea how to cook and expect glam frock-wearing females to rustle up tasty suppers before we dare ask them to do any chores.
Kirstie is a cottage industry, but the relevance of her brand of decorating tips in a recession is questionable.
In most households, it’s not who makes the dinner, but how to afford it
Checkout comedy is off its trolley
My only complaint about the wonderful Sky 1 comedy Trollied is that each episode just isn’t long
In last week's episode Lorraine stormed out of the store
Stephanie Beacham is divine as Lorraine the hideous manager of the Valco supermarket somewhere in the North — her character is Hilary Devey from Dragons’ Den to a T.
In last week’s episode, Lorraine stormed out of the store, leaving the smarmy Gavin to take control. I’m praying she’s back at the helm this Wednesday night.
This show is perfectly cast, and certainly rings true. Can’t wait for the Christmas special. This is an ensemble piece, and all the characters — from the loathsome butcher Andy to deputy manager Julie, a superb Jane Horrocks — are equally well written.
At last a comedy that’s not set in a living room and doesn’t feature irritating kids. Hurrah!
Stripping off won't save our scallops!
Lizzy Jagger is pretty — and yellowfin tuna a handsome fish — but will her new advert, showing her naked astride one, stop you eating endangered species
Actress Greta Scacchi founded Fishlove to promote sustainable fishing, persuading top photographer Rankin to snap beautiful women including Greta, Lizzy and Emilia Fox in the buff, with strategically positioned fish for the website and an exhibition in London later this month.
Waitrose, which sells fish from sustainable sources, supplied the samples for the photo-shoot, but I doubt it will have much impact.
I refuse to eat fish that have been caught too young, and any varieties in danger of extinction, but until the EU sorts out its fishing policy, tons of perfectly good food gets chucked back into the sea every day.
British and French fishermen are engaged in an increasingly bitter ‘scallop war’ over fishing in the English Channel. The scallops are caught using dredges, which scrape the seabed and cause a huge amount of damage. Is that really the best way to fish this tasty food