Last September DSEi, Europe's biggest arms fair, took place in London.
A friend of mine got sentenced arrested there for trying to obstruct a train carrying delegates to it. What with the glacial pace of the legal system, the case only recently came to court. The sentence was £50 costs, a whopping 80 hours Community Service, and a lifetime ASBO banning obstruction of trains on that line or interfering with anything going on at the venue.
On the same day as my friend's arrest, I got nicked for blocking the roads leading to DSEi. My friend obstructed the train for about ten seconds; those of us in the road lasted several hours. Yet me and my co-conspirators were just given a Caution, a temporary criminal record that expires after five years.
When I was on the tree protest against Manchester Airport's second runway I was nicked under Section 10 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 (obstructing an officer of the court in execution of a warrant). I got a conditional discharge, no fine, no costs. A friend at a neighbouring camp got nicked for the same thing and sent down for three months.
If we're meant to believe it really is a justice system, how can people doing almost identical things get such wildly different sentences?
Oh, and it's not called Community Service any more, it's now Unpaid Work. They've dropped any pretence that it's to do with rehabilitation, they now basically admit it's all about punishment in a way that keeps you away from the expensive overcrowded jails.