Sheriffs' & Recorder's Fund AGM at the Old Bailey

Monday 11th July 2016

Despite being released for (fairly) good behaviour from the Tower, yet again I found myself tripping along to one of our most senior Courts - the scene of Dr. Crippen's conviction and hanging, No. 1 Court Old Bailey. Handily I was accompanied by the Clerk who vouch-safed my good conduct and we sat ourselves in the Jury Box for the AGM of this historic fund. Founded in 1808, the Sheriffs' and Recorder's Fund raises monies to be dispersed to prisoners who, upon release find themselves in a bad way and needing a helping hand. Many Livery's support this worthy cause and a good many Masters with a number of accompanying Clerks assembled to hear the proceedings. I was very pleased to see our Past Master and Sheriff Fiona Adler together with (soon to be) Mayor Elect and Hon Liveryman of our Company Andrew Parmley's fund-raising efforts had been recorded with a photo of their tandem bike ride last year. The formal reports concluded, a young offender who'd been quietly waiting his moment, stood and gave a moving account of just how he had benefitted from the Funds assistance - he'd been removed to a country location and made to get up early for long walks with a gang of others he came to respect and admire - I did wonder if this is the sort of thing National Service used to provide and where the Nation may have taken a bad turn by its removal, but kept that to myself! Once he'd sat to resounding applause, we had a talk from Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons who told us of the challenges ahead and staff shortages. When questions came, I asked if these shortages had been experienced to the same degree before the privatisation of prison staff had occurred - he conceded it a good question but that it was more about management style than staff.. It was then time to have a sandwich supper and glass of Frascati and catch up with the circuit of Masters and Clerks as best one could. It was all done by 20.15 and with light traffic I was home in good time.