In the early part of last year I set out with two goals in mind. The first goal was to put those two brothers on the back foot as much as I could. The second goal was to see the maximum sentences raised from 26 weeks to five years.
It is now one year later. The Frankish brothers were run out of five towns and a total of eight places of accommodation. As far as I am aware they last settled in Sheffield, but the point is that this first goal was unquestionably achieved. They are stained for life now, there is no way back for either of them.
And, as you will likely formally hear next week, the Government are indeed set to announce an increase from 26 weeks to 5 years. That’s an increase of ten times. I don’t think it will take them long to enable new legislation at all. They’ll send it up to the House of Lords and they will most likely rubber stamp it.
The goal to see sentences go from 26 weeks to 5 years has also been achieved for all intents and purposes.
We have come very far in such a short space of time and what’s more, we did it with very little in the way of direct labour or financial help. Many of our appeals fell on deaf ears, but we never gave up and we always found a work around.
When my own dog collapsed and died in the street back in February, I never gave up, I was on it the next day, even though I no longer had any pets at that stage.
People have come and gone from OF, only natural with any volunteer movement. Most of them made a positive contribution along the way, so I would like to give a shout out to them, past and present – they know who they are. No matter how many changes of personnel there were, we never stopped, we just kept on going and going.
Nothing has been able to derail us. No one has been able to stop us. We were essentially created to specifically be a high intensity pressure group that did a lot of very public events and which went out of our way to attract a great deal of press.
We were created to oversee two goals, both of which can now be ticked. We wilfully did things which I knew would lead to those brothers effectively becoming the lightening rod by which radical gains would be made. We purposefully did events in order to ensure their names and faces were kept in the press for far longer than would normally have been possible.
Its quite staggering to think what else could have been achieved had more people answered our calls for funds and labour, considering how far we came with so little of either.
Owing to these irrefutably positive developments we are now faced with a choice. With both goals achieved I can ride off into the sunset, get my life back and kick back safe in the knowledge that things will definitely be better than they were to some genuine level.
That one does seem fairly seductive since I’d no longer have to do anything except suit myself. The only people who have any idea the amount of hours I put into all of this are those like Andrew who are on the inside. It has been an absolute necessity for me to cajole and drive people along for a year, if I had not done so then we simply would not have grown as fast and as efficiently as we did.
What now though? That is the question I am going to have to ask of myself this weekend. The answer to that question will, at least to some degree, be shaped by the public themselves.
We were never designed to go on indefinitely, we were designed to achieve those two stated objectives. We were designed to be quick and bold and not for a war of attrition. I think you can see that design and that model is exactly what was needed and it worked very well.
We are now at a cross roads. Having now ticked both boxes that we originally set out to tick my options are to ‘retire from active duty’ and put my feet up – or we go on, regardless of the very good news and irrespective of the new legislation.
There would have to be meaning to our going on though. Once passed into law, there will be no call for us to lobby for five year sentences being passed into law.
Incidentally, its worth pointing out that when something carries the potential for a 5 year sentence it totally changes the dynamic in a number of ways. In England and Wales you’ll likely find these cases are eventually not heard in a magistrates court anymore. They will be heard by a professional and named judge.
Its also plausible that the RSPCA may not be able to handle prosecutions as they have in the past. With this carrying a now very serious sentence, my guess is that the remit will be handed over to police and detectives to investigate more of. You may find the RSPCA will go on prosecuting general neglect and relatively minor cases, but that deemed very extreme will be deal with by detectives.
It changes the dynamic among police forces as well. If an offence only carries a small fine or some other modest penalty, then its obvious that the police don’t give it high priority. If an offence can carry a sentence numbered in years then it becomes naturally more attractive for any force across the UK to give attention to.
From a legal perspective, the Government placing a five year deal onto this issue elevates it into the realms of being caught in possession of a firearm, or ABH, or any number of other pretty serious offences that I could name.
The reason why your local police aren’t too interested if your bike is nicked is that its not worth their bother finding out who stole it. No one gets sent to prison for stealing a bike. But if bike theft suddenly carried a five year sentence, rest assured, your local police would be all over your bike theft report.
This is the ripple that will be naturally caused when legislation is made formal in law.
It does something else. The Frankish generation were born into a society whose legal system effectively said such actions weren’t that serious by dint of the sentences available. The generation growing up after legislation is passed will grow up with an entirely different message.
Returning to the fork in the road that we now face (for good reasons)
What do we do now, how do we react to both original targets being met?
Here’s a bit of an allegory. Anyone remember watching those old trashy horror flix like Friday the 13th. Didnt it just frustrate the hell out of you that at points during the film one of the victims had a perfect chance to finish their tormenter off and they didn’t make sure? It did me. I would always be sitting there thinking “He’s knocked out, you have a gun, now blow his head clean off”. But they wouldn’t and their tormenter would recover, leaving them to regret their pang of mercy.
And that reminds me of where we are at now. The ‘tormenter’ is going to certainly get knocked flat on his collective backside.
The question is – do we risk assuming that he will not recover or do we go all the way and ensure that he cannot?
I would strongly recommend that the latter approach is the way to go.
This can be achieved by launching Strike 2 – promoting our own independent and public access pet abuse register… and then pulling out all the stops to make sure it gets maximum publicity.
Its an ideal thing to do because what it boldly says is that while the new legislation is great, bang – here’s our grass roots created pet abuser register splashed all over the place.
It goes without saying there will be a special place for both brothers on that register.
Doing that in mid October would (and esp due to timing), really create something of a shit storm and a great deal of public hype. Not to mention that it makes people feel emboldened to read of the new legislation and suddenly there is this register that hits the scene.
We should also create the film inspired by the true events of ‘Baby’, legislation or not. We want and can create something worthy of submissions to film festivals or that would be of interest to one of the networks. Its a 5 month start-to-end project, partly shot on location and involving more than one case.
If a network were to step forward and offer to buy the rights, we would naturally ask more for it than its costing to produce in its entirety. If we ended up making a substantial profit on any such deal my intention would be to use that to establish both a cutting edge rescue centre with an education centre attached.
These are the things I strongly recommend that we do.
These are the tactics I woud suggest you lend your support to and that means financial backing.
Those are the things we are ready and primed to swing right into action with, even if we have achieved our two initial aims.
Its your call. We’ve come so far in such a short time and with very little. There is no doubt we have done well. We could leave it there and for sure it would be seen as a successful model.
Or we could ramp it up, welcome the imminent legislation, but go full steam ahead on those other things I have mentioned.
When I say its ‘your call’, I don’t merely mean by saying ‘yeah, go for it bro’. Nothing we have done over these past 18 months happened without a huge number of hours and some finance. So, simply telling us to go for it doesn’t help. What helps is either direct labour or financial aid.
And that’s where it becomes your call.
As far as I’m concerned, Operation Frankish has nothing to prove anymore. We’ve demonstrated time and again what we are capable of.
What happens next is entirely down to the pet loving public.