Chris Bennett: Let the punishment fit the crime
Author: Chris Bennett
Financial sanctions imposed by the law have a tendency to miss the point, fines many have a limited effect in preventing wrong-doing but they should be commensurate with the misdeed and present some level of deterrent.
This week two very different cases came to public view which highlight the problem imposing pointless financial penalties. One also shows action can be taken to alter others’ behaviour.
In optics Boots Opticians Financial Services was handed the biggest possible sanction by the General Optical Council. £50,000 is certainly enough to put some smaller practices out of business, but what effect is it likely to have on a business with a turnover in excess of £350m? As Simon Jones points out in Optician’s piece the public deserves a more robust message to be sent out.
Given that the case dates back to 2014 how many sleepless nights have those individuals involved endured? If registrants, accused and accusers, are to go through arduous and painful processes then the punishments must fit the crime. Whistleblowers must also have some confidence that they won’t be left to face the might of employers, colleagues and the law alone.
Football’s faster delivery of justice saw a Birmingham City fan jailed for 14 weeks within hours of staging a one man pitch invasion to assault Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. The court also ordered the fan to pay compensation of £100 to the player. Grealish’s salary is reportedly in excess of £2m. The £100 won’t stop any repeats but the 14 weeks in jails certainly will.
The GOC was quick to point out that its hands are tied by government and legislation would be needed to increase the fine but surely some sanction, short of prison, could be administered? The structure of the market has changed, if large multiples aren’t to be allowed to act with impunity more fitting punishments need to be found.