A young lady falls foul of new legislation designed to stop unruly and drunken behaviour. She describes her experience in a TV interview.
By Kenny Walters
“Good evening. I’m Emma Barrett and this is ‘UK Focus’.” The attractive dark-haired television presenter turned her head to face Camera Two and waited for the autocue. “Tonight, we welcome a young guest, Fay Harrington, whose drunken night out turned into a personal horror as she became an early victim of the new Young Offenders Programme. Let’s take a look at some of the unruly behaviour that has been increasingly plaguing our towns and cities and was one of the reasons the government took action.”
For a few minutes, the viewers watched some selected scenes of young males and females, drunk out of their heads, clashing with police trying to keep some semblance of order. Some males are shown fighting, one young female is seen baring her bottom at the camera. Another is rolling on the ground, too drunk to stand up. Meanwhile, a young blonde girl wearing a white dress is shown into the vacant chair opposite Emma Barrett.
On the director’s signal, Emma turns to the girl sitting opposite her.
“Fay. Welcome to ‘UK Focus’ and thank you very much for joining us.”
The blonde girl smiles weakly.
“Fay. Tell us a little about yourself. How old are you?”
“Nineteen? And what sort of work do you do?”
“I work in an estate agents office.”
“You work in an estate agents office? Now you had a night out with some friends recently, didn’t you? What happened?”
“The usual. We went to a couple of clubs, danced, had some drinks.” Fay giggled. “Got drunk.”
“And then what happened?”
“I don’t really remember much about it. We were fooling around outside one of the clubs and someone said some rude things to us and we got into an argument. The next thing I can remember is the inside of the police station where we were charged with being drunk and disorderly.”
“That’s my friend Tessa and me.”
“I bet you had a real hangover the following day.”
Fay giggled again. “Yeah.”
Emma Barrett coughed, checked her notes briefly and looked up at her guest. “So, you then had to appear at the Magistrates Court. What happened there?”
“That was a week later. Tessa had to appear first and my case was heard straight after hers. We had the same solicitor.”
“Had your solicitor warned you of what might happen at this stage?”
“Well, Tessa and I had a meeting with him and obviously we both had to plead guilty because we’d been too drunk to remember much about it and anyway the police had video evidence that showed us rolling about on the pavement and shoving the policemen and things.”
“Yes, but had your solicitor talked to you about the new penalties introduced in the recent Young Offenders Act?”
“He said there was some new stuff. Yes.”
Fay looked awkwardly at her fingernails. “Yes.” She murmured.
“We have to take a break there.” The presenter turned to a different camera. “Join us in a couple of minutes to find out just what the magistrates ordered for Fay and her friend. We’ll be right back.”
With the attention of the cameras off for a few minutes, two make-up artists came onto the set and dabbed away at Emma Barrett’s and Fay Harrington’s faces.
“You’re doing very well.” Emma smiled at the younger girl.
“I’m still feeling quite nervous.” Fay answered shyly.
“Don’t worry, that makes for good television.”
They both took the opportunity to drink a couple of mouthfuls of water and then the atmosphere on set tensed as the director announced fifteen seconds remained before they were back on air.
“Welcome back to ‘UK Focus’. I’m Emma Barrett and my guest tonight is Fay Harrington. Fay was arrested following a drunken night out with her friends and hauled before the Magistrates Court where she pleaded guilty. Her solicitor had warned her about the newly introduced Young Offenders Act.”
The TV presenter turned from Camera Two and looked directly at the younger girl.
“Fay, what happened then?”
“A police officer came into the witness box and said that I’d been with some friends and we were all really drunk. I didn’t remember, but he said my friend Tessa and I had been particularly rowdy and argued with him and some other officers and then we’d started pushing and shoving them so we were arrested.”
“I see. Did you think that was a fair summary of what happened?”
“I couldn’t remember much about it, but my friends told me it was pretty much what happened, yes.”
“Okay. What happened next?”
“My solicitor made a brief statement saying I was of previous good character and was very sorry for what had happened, which was true. He then asked for the court to deal leniently with me.”
“Your solicitor told the court you were of previous good character and asked them to deal with you leniently?”
“And how did they decide to deal with you?”
“There were three magistrates. They had a quick talk amongst themselves and then the chief magistrate, an old grey haired guy with quite a kindly face, said it was to my credit that I had admitted my offence and not wasted their time by stupidly denying what I’d done. They were sure I’d be much more sensible in future and not get into trouble again, and therefore they felt a short sharp lesson would be all that I’d need.”
“What did you take that to mean?” Emma Barrett interrupted.
“I don’t know. A fine, maybe? I didn’t really have any idea.”
“Okay. What did the magistrate say next?”
“The chief magistrate? He said the sentence of the court was that I should receive eight strokes of the cane and that I had one week in which to present myself at the police station and receive my punishment.”
“Wow!” Emma looked pointedly at Fay with an expression of horror. “How did you feel when you heard that?”
“I don’t know really. I mean, there wasn’t much I could do was there? My case was finished and the clerk was showing me out of the dock. It all happened so quickly.”
“What did your parents say?”
“My mum was at the back of the court. We went outside and my solicitor met us there. Mum was talking about appealing, but my solicitor said that without any new evidence any appeal would fail and I might get an increased sentence.”
“Then a clerk gave me a letter to take with me to the police station and that was it really.”
“Okay. Thanks, Fay.” Emma switched to another camera. “We have to take another break there. Don’t go away. I’m Emma Barrett and this is UK ‘Focus’.
Once again, the tension in the studio relaxed while they took another advertising break, giving the make-up artists another chance to dab away at the two young women and for Emma and Fay to have some more water.
“This is great stuff, Fay. You’re doing really well.” Emma smiled broadly.
“I suppose I’m a bit more used to it now. The cameras and everything.”
“Wasn’t that an awful shock? Being told you were going to get eight strokes of the cane?”
“My solicitor had mentioned it as a possibility, but I was quite surprised. I think I was really glad the court thing was over and I could get out of the dock.”
“Right.” Emma Barrett looked doubtful. The director announced the fifteen second countdown before she could speak again.
“Welcome back. This is ‘UK Focus’ and I’m Emma Barrett.” She turned to her studio guest, leaning forward in her seat for greater emphasis.
“Fay, you’ve told us about your court case and how you were being dealt with for drunk and disorderly behaviour. You were sentenced to receive eight strokes of the cane. How did you really feel about that, deep down?”
Fay Harrington puffed her cheeks out and stroked her shoulder length blonde hair. “Well, it was a bit frightening but I didn’t really have any choice, did I?”
“Right.” Emma looked at the girl sitting opposite, hoping for some more dramatic response. It didn’t come. “So, you had one week in which to present yourself to the police station for the punishment to be carried out. Is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“When did you actually go?”
“I’d taken a day off work to go to court. That was on the Thursday. I was back at work on Friday and I talked to mum about it over the weekend.”
“We both agreed there was no point in putting it off, so I phoned my manager on Monday morning and asked if I could take the day off.”
“Was he aware of what was going on?”
“Oh yes. I’d told him I’d been arrested and of course I had to explain why I wanted the day off so I could go to court.”
“What was his reaction?”
“When I first told him about it, I was scared I was going to get the sack. He wasn’t very happy. Later, when I told him about my sentence, he seemed quite understanding and said that I’d be able to keep my job.”
“How about the other people in the office? The people you work with.”
“Oh, they’ve been quite supportive. They’re mostly young, so I guess they know they could easily find themselves in a similar situation.”
“Going back to Monday, you’d decided to go to the police station?”
“Yes. Like I said, there seemed no point in putting it off. Mum drove me there and we went in together. A young policeman asked my mum to wait in a side room and then he took me down a long corridor into a small office. He left me on my own for a bit and then he came back with a female police inspector. She was older and quite stocky.”
“Okay. What happened then?”
“I handed the inspector the letter I’d been given by the court clerk and she read it and gave it back to me. Then she looked at me and said: ‘Eight strokes, Fay?’ Like she was confirming what I already knew. I just nodded.”
“You must have felt quite frightened?”
“I was very nervous, yes.”
“Then what happened?”
“The inspector opened another door opposite the one we’d come in by and told me to go through. I went through and it was another small room with a wooden trestle type apparatus in the middle and a wooden bench to one side with a couple of coat hooks above it. Oh, and there was a tall metal cabinet too.”
“This trestle, Fay. Can you describe it for our viewers?”
“It was about two feet six inches high and about two feet wide with legs going down at an angle. Kind of ‘A’ shaped? Except that the top had a flat bit about a foot across, and the top had a padded leather surface. Oh, and there were sort of handcuffs at the bottom of each leg.”
“Thank you, Fay. What happened then?”
“The inspector told me to go over to the bench and strip to my underwear.”
“To your underwear? Why?”
“That’s just what I said. The inspector informed me they didn’t allow clothing because otherwise people could protect themselves with all sorts of padding and then the punishment would be a waste of time. I could see her point.”
“Okay. So what happened next?”
“Well, I looked to see if the young policeman was going to leave the room, but he wasn’t. So, I took off my white blouse and hung it on one of the hooks. I looked again to see if the policeman was going to leave but he just stood there looking discreetly away so I unzipped my black skirt and took it off. I tried to hang that on one of the hooks but it kept falling off, so I folded it and put it on the bench. Then I slipped my shoes and tights off.”
“Leaving you in just your underwear?”
“Yes. Just brief pink panties and matching bra.”
“I see. Just your panties and bra? What happened then?”
“The inspector went to the tall metal cabinet and when she opened the door I could see about ten or twelve canes hanging down from a rail inside. She picked one and brought it out. It was about three feet long and one end was curved round in a kind of handle.”
“How thick would you say it was, Fay?”
“Not quite half an inch thick?”
“Okay. Go on.”
“Well, the young policeman went over to the trestle and the inspector practiced a few swings with the cane. It made a funny whooshing noise. Then she told me to go across to the trestle.”
“Thank you, Fay. We have to take another break there. We’ll be back very soon. This is Emma Barrett and you’re watching ‘UK Focus.”
Immediately the pressure from the cameras was off, Fay Harrington picked up her glass of water and took a long drink. Emma Barrett, too, felt the need for cooling refreshment.
“Everything okay, Fay?” Emma asked.
Fay nodded. The two young women waited silently through the advertising break and then the director brought them to the countdown.
“Welcome back to ‘UK Focus’. I’m Emma Barrett and this is Fay Harrington. Fay, you were describing to us how you went to the police station having been sentenced to receive eight strokes of the cane after having been found guilty of being drunk and disorderly.
“Fay, you found yourself taken to a small room with a trestle in the middle of the floor where you were made to strip to your bra and pants, and where a female police inspector brought a cane out of a cabinet. You described the cane as being three feet long with a crook handle, and just under half an inch thick.”
“Yes, that’s correct.” Fay confirmed.
“And there was just you, the female police inspector and a young male constable in the room?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“The inspector then told you to go to the wooden trestle in the middle of the room? Whathappened then?”
“I was feeling very nervous then, but I went across and as soon as I got there the inspector told me to bend across the trestle. I bent over and the top was quite comfortable but of course I realised how vulnerable my bottom now was. As soon as I was there, the policeman took hold of one of my legs and pulled it sideways until it touched the leg of the trestle. Then he fastened one of those handcuff things around my ankle and locked it shut. Then he did the same with the other leg, securing it to the other leg of the trestle.”
“How did that make you feel, Fay?”
“Really nervous. I felt really trapped, and I wanted to ask whether it was really necessary. After all, I knew I had to be caned. It wasn’t like I was going to run out of the door or anything. Even if I had, they’d have run after me and brought me back.”
“But you didn’t ask whether it was necessary?”
“Then what happened?”
“The young policeman came round and did the same with my wrists, locking them into the handcuffs fastened to the front two legs. It sort of pulled me tighter across the trestle.”
“So you couldn’t move at all?”
“That’s right. It meant they could do whatever they liked to me and I wouldn’t be able to resist.”
“Quite scary, I Imagine.”
“Yes. Anyway, then female inspector took another couple of practice swings with the cane and told the policeman to take my pants down.”
Emma Barrett looked aghast, a point noticed by the director who immediately instructed a camera to focus on her face. “The inspector asked the constable, a male constable, to take your knickers down?”
“Did you object?”
“Of course! I pleaded with them not to, but the inspector said that all canings were administered on the bare bottom and with the current sex discrimination legislation there was no way the police could dictate the sex of the officers involved.”
“So the young male officer took your knickers down and bared your bottom?”
“Yes.” Fay giggled lightly. “He was actually quite nice about it and apologised for having to do it. Quietly, whispering, you understand. He was very gentle and seemed quite nervous himself. I could feel his fingers trembling as he pulled them down. Not at all like my boyfriend.”
“So there you were, secured across this trestle with your pants around your ankles?”
“That’s right. Anyway, the inspector came round behind me and the constable went and stood in front of me.”
“We need to take a break there. Join us in a couple of minutes. I’m Emma Barrett and this is ‘UK Focus’.
The studio relaxed as they took another advertising break. Emma leaned back so the make-up artist could attend to powdering her nose and dab away at her face. “God, that must have been awful!”
“I think I was more worried about the next bit.”
“Well, yes, but I just can’t imagine how I’d have felt if some strange male constable took my knickers down like that.”
“Would it have been so much better if a female had done it, bearing in mind what they were going to do to me? He was very gentle.”
“Yes, but even so.” The presenter was interrupted by the director coming onto the studio floor and whispering in her ear. “Okay. Fay, we’ll stay with the story and then take some emails we’ve received from viewers. Is that all right?”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
“Okay, here we go.” The presenter waited for her cue and then turned to another camera. “Welcome back. I’m Emma Barrett and this is ‘UK Focus’. My guest tonight is Fay Harrington. Fay, found guilty of being drunk and disorderly, went along to the police station to receive her punishment, namely eight strokes of the cane, and found herself secured across a wooden trestle with her pants around her ankles, in the presence of a female inspector and a young male constable. Fay, what happened next?”
“The inspector was standing behind me holding the cane. She told me she was now going to apply the eight strokes. The next moment, I heard a quick whoosh and then the cane whipped across my poor bottom. Boy! Did it smart!”
“I can imagine.”
“After a few moments, I heard another whoosh and the cane whacked me across my bottom for the second time. It stung even worse for several seconds before the sharp pain slowly subsided. My bottom was already feeling pretty sore.”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“The third stroke was aimed low down, and that felt even worse. That really hurt.”
“Can I get this clear, Fay? These strokes of the cane weren’t applied terribly rapidly?”
“No, there was a definite pause between each stroke. It really hurt, like, when the cane actually hit me, and that pain seemed to last for quite a few seconds before it slowly subsided. The inspector seemed to know that, and waited until it wasn’t hurting as much.”
“Like she was making sure you got the maximum discomfort from each stroke?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“I see. Go on.”
“By the time I’d received the fourth stroke, I could also feel some pain from my wrists and ankles. I hadn’t intended pulling at the metal cuffs that held me pinned down, but I must have been.”
“You’d intended just lying there and taking your punishment?”
“On reflection, do you think you could have?”
“I think so. Perhaps, if I’d had something to hold on to?”
“Okay. Go on.”
“The fifth stroke seemed to be directed quite high on my bottom. It hurt just as much.”
“The inspector was making sure your bottom was sore all over?”
“I guess so.”
“After the sixth stroke, I was really feeling very sore indeed. That was another one aimed high up. It seemed an age before the next one came, but that was back in the middle where she’d hit me the first couple of times. That really, really hurt.”
“What, like it hit you where you’d already been hit?”
“Yes, that’s right. The seventh stroke was much the same, right in the middle of my bottom where it was the sorest.”
“It must have been really hurting now.”
“Oh, it was! I’d really had about as much as I felt I could take.”
“Did you consider asking whether you could have a break?”
“Yes, but at some stage it would have had to start again. I thought it was better to take my punishment and get it over with.”
“Right. So, you’ve had seven strokes. Just one more to go?”
“That’s right. There seemed to be a longer delay. I think the inspector deliberately made that the worst stroke of all.”
“Yes, the whooshing sound seemed a bit longer and louder, and the cane really cracked across my bottom. And the pain was something else!”
“Can you describe that for us?”
“That’s difficult. It was, perhaps, as though someone had slammed a red hot branding iron across my bottom. It really stung! That was when I started crying.”
“Right. But your punishment had been completed. How did they treat you then?”
“The inspector was quite offhand. I could hear her opening the metal cabinet door and putting the cane away. Then she told the policeman to release me. He went round unlocking the handcuffs and it was quite a relief not to have them tight around my wrists and ankles. I didn’t move at first, and then she told me I could get up and get dressed. She seemed quite impatient.”
“No. I slowly got up and I was very unsteady on my feet. The policeman came and held my arm so I didn’t fall over.” Fay smiled weakly. “I started rubbing my bottom, and then he stood away. It was only after several minutes that I realised my pants were still down around my ankles. I think my face must have been as red as my bottom when I did finally crouch down and pull them up.”
Emma Barrett smiled supportively, apparently picturing the scene in her mind.
“Then I went back over to the wooden bench and put the rest of my clothes on. We all went out of the door together, but only the policeman escorted me back to the room where my mum was waiting.”
“Did he speak to you at all?”
“Yes. He asked how I was feeling, and I said I felt very sore. Then he said he hoped I’d get over it soon and that I’d learnt my lesson.”
“Have you learnt a lesson from this experience, Fay?”
“Oh yes. I’ve been very careful how much I have to drink ever since.”
“What about your friend, Tessa? Did she have to go through the same ordeal?”
“No, actually she got a community work order. They said she hadn’t shoved a policeman and wasn’t as rowdy as me.”
“She wasn’t caned?”
“How did you feel about that?”
“Okay. She saw the marks on my bottom afterwards and that made her watch her drinking for a while. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop her for long and she was arrested again last week. Her court case was yesterday and now she’s got to go along to the police station and take ten strokes.”
“The community work order didn’t work for her, then?”
“Apparently not. No.”
Emma Barrett sighed, then turned to another camera. “We’ll take another break there. We’ll be back soon when we’ll hear what our viewers have phoned or emailed to say. Join us then. I’m Emma Barrett and this is ‘UK Focus’.”
With the studio relaxed for a couple of minutes, both the young women took the opportunity of a refreshing glass of water.
“How does Tessa feel?”
“About the court case? She’s more worried than I was. Of course, she saw the marks from my caning, and she has an extra two strokes to take because it was the second time she’s been convicted.”
“I can imagine. And now she has a week in which she has to present herself at the police station? When is she going to go?”
“Knowing Tessa, she’ll leave it right to the last moment.”
“Will you go with her?”
“Could I come too? Without the cameras, I mean.”
Before Fay had a chance to answer, they got the fifteen second countdown and an assistant shoved a sheath of papers in Emma Barrett’s hand.
“Welcome back. This is Emma Barrett and this is ‘UK Focus’. We’ve heard how our guest for this evening, Fay Harrington, was given eight strokes of the cane for drunk and disorderly behaviour after a night out.
“We’ve had a number of responses from viewers. Let’s go through some of them. Eddie phoned from Basingstoke. He says: ‘Thank goodness the government has finally come up with a solution to the problem of drunken louts causing mayhem in our town centres. I think this young lady fully deserved her punishment.’ Fay, this has been the gist of quite a large number of our calls. How do you react to that?”
“I’ve never denied that I deserved to be punished. The thought of being caned certainly scared me and made me think about my behaviour. In the end, I accepted it and took my medicine.”
“John from Wolverhampton says: ‘Like so many of her contemporaries, this girl acted very foolishly but she did accept her punishment without complaint, and I think she deserves credit for that’. Fay?”
“Thank you. Yes, I was certainly very stupid, but I’ve learnt my lesson.”
“Natasha from Bristol emailed us to say: ‘Considering it was her first offence, I think Fay was treated very harshly indeed. I’m frightened to think one of my daughters could end up having to face having her backside thrashed in the stark atmosphere of a police station.’ Fay, what do you say to that?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps it does need something like this to make young people think about the consequences of their actions. If you just get a fine or community work order or something for your first offence then you’re more likely to offend again. Like my friend, Tessa, for instance.”
“Thank you, Fay. Gary from Lincolnshire emailed us to ask: ‘Fay said how sore the caning made her backside feel. How long did that last?’ Fay?”
“I was pretty sore for the rest of the day. I certainly slept face down that night! The following day, it was much better. It just felt a little uncomfortable when I sat down.”
“Lin from Chichester wants to know: ‘What did your mother feel about you being caned? Didn’t she object?’ Fay?”
“We talked a lot about it. In the end I think she agreed it was about what I deserved.”
“Finally, Rita from Stockport telephoned to say: ‘I think your guest was very brave to take her punishment the way she did, and even braver for agreeing to appear on the programme.’ I go along with that too. Many thanks, Fay, for coming into the studio and being so frank about your experience.”
Fay smiled shyly. “Thanks.”
“Well, that concludes our programme for this evening. Join us next week when my guest will be John Entwhistle, a former MP convicted and sent to prison for claiming expenses he’d never incurred. This is Emma Garrett. This is ‘UK Focus’. Goodnight.”