London: A British judge has criticised the police for their laziness as they preferred handing out on-the-spot fines to French youth following a violent assault because none of them could speak a word of English, media reports said on Saturday.
Judge John Foster accused officers of "clearing their books with the minimum of effort" by penalising the foreign students, whom he described as "vicious cowards", the Daily Express reported.
His outburst came after watching the incident`s CCTV footage which led to just one local resident, Anthony Hilton, appearing in court.
Hilton, 22, was caught up in an initial brawl outside a club. But he was not involved in what Judge Foster described as the "vicious, violent and cowardly kicking" of another man in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He was jailed for 16 weeks.
Judge Foster, however, said that he believed the French-exchange students, aged between 16 and 18, should also be going to jail instead of simply paying fines.
"It is extraordinary that the police decided to deal with the others whose behaviour was more serious by issuing fixed penalty tickets because, apparently, four did not speak English," he told Barnsley Magistrates` Court.
"I cannot begin to understand how the police reached their conclusion. It seems they were trying to clear their books with the minimum of effort."
Crown Prosecution Service guidelines had been followed, said a spokesman for South Yorkshire Police, adding that the French youths had no previous convictions and were therefore only fined.