As Sarah Bakewell puts it in The Guardian, The Justice Roadshow,
....the Magistrates' Association suggests is to take courts out of their hallowed premises, and reinvent them as ad hoc, mobile affairs. Magistrates could hear cases in rented commercial offices, or in empty shops in shopping centres – perhaps even behind a glass shopfront, so that everyone can see what is going on. Judicial proceedings would, literally, be more transparent.The idea of setting up Magistrates Courts in Westfield is a very sinister development, as if justice could be dispensed in a "fast-track" manner no less than a pair of Vision Express spectacles. It only serves to back up J G Ballard's dystopian notion that 'consumerism could become fascism'.
......if someone has been picked up for shoplifting in a Westfield mall, what could be more convenient than to try them in that same mall, on the same day? Security guards and other witnesses can go along to give evidence at once, instead of waiting to be summoned.
"Summary justice," as the deputy chairman of the association, John Howson, rather alarmingly phrases it, "should be about dealing with people where they actually are."
The word "summary" sounds shocking here, and so does the idea of the glass window. Young offenders are already demonised by the media; are they now to be physically paraded in front of Saturday shoppers?For a start, Magistrates imposing fast track justice could be used by Westfield security guards to dole out fines and penalties for such offences as loitering without intent and taking photographs or being "anti-social": that is, not buying products and thus not having the fundamental rights consumers have.
Will some relish the chance to show off? And how long will it be before summary punishments become public too? Will those found guilty be dragged straight from the court to the pillory?
For example, though the new government has repealed section 44 of the anti-terrorist act that make it an offence to take photos, Westfield Guards might not be aware of that or might be able to claim that Westfield Policy forbids anybody to take photos inside or outside the huge shopping complex.
Bringing Magistrates Courts in to shopping temples and meting out exemplary and summary justice in glass windows is a slide into something new and rather chilling. Consumers fixated on brands and logos will want their enemies branded quickly too. These enemies must be brought to the places where there is No Darkness.
Thus Justice shall become a Spectacle in the mall. Perhaps miscreants can be put into gunk tanks and children pay 50p to put green slime over offenders against shopping malls with them forced to hold placards reading,
"I was here not to Have Fun but to Spoil your Day. Make your Day. Gunk me Now" .
Teenage shoplifters could be stood on pedestals with placards with advertising banners instilling the correct consciousness and blending moral injunctions with the relevant aesthetic considerations that bolster the consumer faith upon which British life alone depends with barely an exception:
"Look at my trampy trainers. Don't be a sinner be a winner-Work hard, play hard but never steal from Sports Direct."
Not a single week goes by when Britain does not go down the road to a new form of soft totalitarianism-lite, the main impulse is the need for the consumer economy to be perpetually driven to its limits by transgression, violence and sex, to sell fundamentally new experiences and products.
Could justice and the law be commodified and privatised just like almost everything else has been ? The possibilities are limitless. Consumers could be given prizes for shopping a shoplifter. Consumers could be mystery plain clothes shop detectives defending their favourite shopping malls.
Loyalty points could be given to voluntary enforcers who snoop around the mall trying to find those loitering with no intent to buy and ask searching questions about what they are doing there, frisking them or becoming the "eyes and ears" of the mall. The loudspeaker system would broadcast victories over enemies of the mall to martial music.
Those who form gangs to drive away gangs or asocial individuals who come without families and take photographs could receive free promotional sports gear for shopping those who do not "share our values" and confiscating their cameras. League tables of results to show which group had defended Westfield most successfully.
These result could be flashed up on the advert video screens placed throughout Westfield. Successful chases and arrests played on action replay. Whilst security for consumers is a major selling point for Westfield, the danger of diminishing marginal expectations can be overcome by ramping up the threat to the centre by deviant elements.
Have a Nice Day.