Simon Carr: A blatant crime – but no justice

There’s blood everywhere, and the attacker walks away nonchalantly
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The Independent Online

So this young fellow I know was in a club with his friends. As he leaves, another young man comes up behind him and hits him down the side of the head with a beer glass. It shatters along his skull and tears a bit into his neck. The first young man goes down and stays there on the club floor. There's blood everywhere. He's unconscious at best. The second young man walks away nonchalantly. He doesn't even try to run away. It's all caught on the CCTV.

There's an ambulance, hospital, stitches, the police. There's no argument about what happened. No provocation, no self-defence, no previous aggression. It's all there on the film.

It certainly has its uses, the surveillance society. People seem to lie so much more about what happens in life. One of my buddies had the trailer of his truck driven into by a boy racer on the M40 last week. The policeman listened to both accounts and couldn't reconcile them. Then he indicated the surveillance cameras and said, "Well, it'll all be on film" and the young man's story went through 180 degrees, rather as his car done on the motorway. He blurted out everything as it had actually happened.

So, my young friend in the club? He is valiant. He didn't particularly want to have the police prosecute but he let himself be talked into giving evidence. It had been the way his attacker had walked unhurriedly away from his bleeding body (and it might easily have been his bleeding corpse).

The police took it seriously. It was grievous bodily harm. You can get five years for that, can't you? We have to show that casual savagery like this has consequences. It's the essence of civilisation. It was a great endeavour he started on.

But then they lost the crime number. And then they found it again. And then they couldn't get the accident report from the hospital. And then they still couldn't get the report from the hospital. And after asking for it a couple of times over two or three months, my valiant young friend felt he was presuming on police time and gave up.

I know detective resources are thin and great demands are placed on the police service. Also, we all know the NHS records system is impenetrable to outsiders. But the police are trained investigators, that's also true isn't it? And they do have powers we hear about. They can enter your house to seize documents, can't they get into the hospital somehow?

Maybe they couldn't find out which hospital it was. And then there are the directions. Multimap is only available to people with the internet. These things are always more complicated than we think.