Children and Young Persons Act 1933. Section 50 – Age of criminal responsibility.
It shall be conclusively presumed that no child under the age of ten years can be guilty of any offence.
Sarah Langford’s ‘In Your Defence’, has sat in the best seller stacks of my local bookshop for weeks. The light blue cover has a modern cartoon image of a barrister’s wig and collar surrounded by positive reviews in bright pink writing. As part of my goal to pay off my credit card debt I have been borrowing my books from the library. I’ve worked out how to create a ‘wish list’ on my libraries site and as a book comes to the end I order the next! It is working out perfect. It does cost me 50p to do this but that sits well with me having saved £8+ on buying the book. Plus, I am helping to fund the local library that doesn’t get much council funding.
A UK Barrister with an unconventional path, Langford has written each chapter around a piece of law. Combining several stories into one we are shown how the law works or in some cases doesn’t. I was raging with anger reading Ruth’s story as her husband, a career burglar refuses to confirm Ruth’s innocence and subsequently both parents are jailed. In UK law it is written that wives must know about their husband’s actions are thus just as guilty.
Theft Act 1968. Section 9 – Burglary.
(1) A person is guilty of burglary if-… (b) having entered any building or part of a building as a trespasser he steals or attempts to steal anything in the building or that part of it or infilcts or attempts to inflict on any person therein any grievious bodily harm.
Each story varies tugging at your sense of right or wrong. Saba is a Bangladesh immigrant whose husband is violent towards her and she tries to leave. She has a young child to protect. Derek is charged with sexual activity in a public lavatory and faces the prospect of his homosexuality being recorded on public record. His story broke my heart and I hope his accuser regrets deeply their accusations.
I couldn’t read all the chapters especially the one on paedophilia. Each story starts with the section of law it is referring to allowing you to make the same choice. Langford writes in personal details including her fee, £125 per case noting that her train fares are often more. The process of dressing in a wig and collar is detailed including a note about her male colleague who once, uninvited, helped her. Gross.
Being a set of short stories, I’d recommend this book also to anyone who is trying to read more. I have found in times of stress I can’t concentrate or remember what I had previously written. Short stories like Sarah Langford’s ‘In Your Defence’ make it easier to get back into a habit of reading and remove the pressure of remembering a long storyline. Another great book is this one by Jojo Moyes. Let me know if you read this book and what you thought in the comments. PF xo