Friday, January 27, 2006

Uniforms

I went down to my local Magistrates Court this week to deal with, amongst other things, a case that was being prosecuted by the DVLA. After locating the prosecutor and speaking with her for a few minutes I noticed that she was in fact wearing a dark blue suit that was a DVLA uniform. Stitched on to jacket in green lettering were the letters DVLA. In my line of business the only people who I regularly encounter in uniforms are either the Police, Prison staff, the staff who bring prisoners to Court, and Court Security staff. I think that this was a first for me and I have never been prosecuted by a person in uniform.

I started to think a little more about this idea of uniform. The list callers, or ushers in Court often wear a black gown to distinguish themselves from everyone else in Court. The advocates (and ushers) dress in a smart fashion. It would be an interesting idea if uniforms were brought in so that the divisions in Court could be easily identified by the casual observer. Defence advocates could dress in the colours of their firm, Prosecutors could dress in the colours if their CPS region. Other prosecuting departments such as Trading Standards and the Department for Work and Pensions could also adorn themselves in some identifiable uniform or strip. Eventually the whole Court could be awash with colour and each person, other than the defendants, could easily be identified.

Or perhaps not! I cannot believe that this lady had to attend Court wearing a uniform - what a ridiculous idea. Personally I think that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they dress,and putting people in to uniforms where it is simply not necessary is a step too far.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most defendents already wear the unofficial uniform of baseball cap, tracksuit and white trainers. Serial offenders are permitted a mobile phone on a chain around the neck. Burberry accessories denote shoplifting offences, and tattoos denote crimes of violence.

I stepped of of a court the other day, wearing a blue pinstripe, and was immediately accosted and asked for legal advice by a chap in the street who assumed I was a barrister. Had to tell him I was an expert witness with no legal training, but he still insisted on showing me a contract to interpret.

Anonymous said...

But if everyone wore uniforms, wouldn't it look as if this were a police state? Oh, wait, that's right, I forgot...

Bystander said...

You might look quite fetching an a 'Briefs R Us' boiler suit!

Is Mise Le Meas said...

If I'm not mistaken the citizens of Orwell's 1948 were required to wear uniforms based on what exactly they did. Given that the current government seem to be following Orwell's text, as though it were their roadmap, your words might turn out to be more prophetic than you think.

Is Mise Le Meas said...

I meant 1984

Bystander said...

He did write it in 1948 though.

Anonymous said...

It's un-British

The comments above re. Police State are spot-on.

Anonymous said...

"Defence advocates could dress in the colours of their firm, "

Would those be the racing colours of the senior partner?

Anonymous said...

Tongue in cheek suggestion...

Defendents to wear orange jumpsuits and hand & ankle chains.

[img]http://members.tripod.com/drp/sh7300.jpg[/img]

David said...

People seem to want to wear some sort of uniform.

I saw it in the NHS, where once in the community we got rid of uniforms as fast as we could, so patients didn't feel that they were "marked out" when were worked with them in the comunity.

Then ward clarks wanted uniforms & community suport workers etc.

I'm retired now, but I know a local lady, must be getting some sort of community suport as a woman in a white uniform or a bloke in a dental jacket walk with her, half a mile to the local shops while she gets her shopping.

Makes her realy stand out!!!!

Indigo said...

I was doing a little research recently in the published literature on people's motives for doing voluntary work and was started to find that for some it is the opportunity to wear a uniform.

For no reason at all, your post made me think of archers in the Middle Ages having to wear Lincoln Green. Is it an urban myth that, in Oxford, if you want to do target practice with your bow and arrows in the High Street, you must be wearing Lincoln Green or risk being arrested?

Indigo said...

\started\startled

*By the bye, took me four attempts to post this: wish I'd chosen a less complicated password - I repeatedly mis-type it.*

Anonymous said...

Indigo, absolutely, I often practice at the Oxford butts with several other yeomen of Oxford and we;ve never had a problem with the poh-lease! They're very understanding about us loosing off arrows in the high street.

Ollie B said...

You could have seasonal and fancy dress periods to give the courtroom a more accessible atmosphere. For example at Crhistmas members of the bench must each wear a red wool-lined tunic and trousers, black boots, false white beard and say the words "Yo, ho, ho!" in a hearty and jolly manner before they say anything else during a trial.

Come to think of it, that's not a million miles from the current dress code of the bench, so maybe this one could fly....

mellowdaisy said...

Where are you??

jemima said...

love it.

could we also have a traffic light badge system for CPS lawyers?

green - hi, I've had my coffee and 5 fags, I'm feeling pretty cool and your client's never going to get bail in a million years so I'll be nice to you and give you your AI

amber - watch it, I didn't sleep well last night, I'm a bit hungover and I'll give your your AI but I won't talk to you about the case at all. Not my job, speak to the reviewing lawyer.

red - piss off, you bloody defence reps never leave me alone. If I want to walk into court at 10 having been holed up in the CPS room and refusing to answer the door so what. Not my problem. Your client's a scrote, I'm only going to give you the case summary and then I'm going to oppose any application to adjourn you make. I don't want your client to ever get out of jail. Leave me alone.