When a foul-mouthed reply is the only response

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Ask anyone who has ever owned a Rover or enjoys A Question of Sport how they think Britain could be improved, the response ‘being tougher on crime’ would be a popular one.

The perception by some that we live in a post apocalyptic, lawless society may be at odds with the facts – crime has long been on the decline and our prisons are as full as they ever have been – but that doesn’t stop a huge chunk of the population worrying themselves daft about it.

Letters pages in newspapers, not to mention the comment sections of their websites, are full of shrill folk imploring politicians, police chiefs and our judges to take a tougher stance against criminals.

So last week the news that a Crown Court judge had played a foul-mouthed yob at his own game, and used language which would make a Scottish sailor blush, before sending him down was universally applauded right?

Or so you would have 
thought.

The moment Judge Patricia Lynch uttered the most offensive swear word in response to a horrible racist who had already slung that particular four-letter insult in her direction, it was clear this would be a national talking point. One can only imagine the reaction in that courtroom, such was the extraordinary nature of the exchange between judge and foul individual before her.

It not only led to the 64-year-old judge becoming something of a media sensation, both here and around the world, but also left her facing an official investigation into her own conduct by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.

Judges are duty bound to live by standards which are higher than most of the rest of ours but that doesn’t mean that they cease to be human beings.

By responding to Hennigan in the only way that he knows, before giving him an 18-month sentence following his conviction for racially abusing a mum and the ninth breach of an ASBO, she made it clear that he wouldn’t have the final word.

This is what being tough on crime looks like and if you are offended by it then that’s your problem.