I suppose commenting on the general topic of juries and the internet is the sort of activity that fills lawyers and judges with trepidation. The mere mention of jury competence in some circles invites the arrival of the Spanish Inquisition. Two of my posts in 2015 more or less sum up the situation. It seems now that the current watchword by virtue of Il Duce Trump is fake news. HH Judge Graham Robinson at Grimsby Crown Court warned whoever was listening that they must be aware of fake news and to that end avoid using the internet in jury deliberations. All this leads back to the situation where owing to the outmoded concept of "peers" every person of age excluding a few who are insane or members of parliament or both, must serve. Even some of those who have had a criminal conviction must serve if ordered. However periods of imprisonment, a suspended sentence of imprisonment or probation canwarrant exclusion. I have never been called to jury service under the current regulations and excluded myself...
In a few days time I should have a set of figures telling us exactly what the size of the Knife Crime problem is across England and Wales. While I’m waiting for the last few miscreants to remember to send me some data, or protest that they don’t have a Knife Crime problem, I thought I would plunder the Mayor of London’s Data Store and draw some pretty pictures of the scale of weapons generally in our capital.
As the data goes back to 2008 I thought “why not nick it all?” look at the long term situation and how it might have changed. The categories covered everything from Dog Bites to Murder but I just concentrated on my current hobby horse and guns while I was at it.
As we all know, Sir Bernie Hogan-Who ordered a reduction in Stop and Search in London after the 2011 riots in order to try to build trust between the police and London’s communities. Did that work? We shall see.
Knife and Gun Crime between 2008 and 2016 looks like this.Reasonably constant over...
Reports up 32% over two year period (January 2013-December 2015) according to new figures from City of London Police.
An average of £10,000 lost by dating fraud victims in the UK
New partnership created to work with the Online Dating Association to reduce the number of people who fall victim.
We’re warning anyone looking for love this Valentine’s Day to beware of fraudsters looking to rid their new partner of their savings. Every day we receive an average of seven reports of dating fraud.
The average victim of dating fraud will make their first transfer of money to the fraudster in less than one month of contact, showing how quickly and easily victims are defrauded. It takes another nine days on average before a victim reports the fraud to us.
How fraudsters use dating websites and apps
Nearly £40 million was lost through dating fraud between 2015 and 2016, with 3,889 reports made in total. However, evidence suggests that this doesn’t accurately represent the true scale of dating fraud due to...
I doubt there will be many tears at the forthcoming exit from Scotland Yard of its Commissioner Hogan-Howe. His revelation accidental or calculated of a proposed date for the visit of President Trump will have angered both the Prime Minister and her successor at the Home Office no end. His presence will not be missed. There was scandal at the Met before Hogan-Howe, during his tenure and at his leaving. Its whole structure needs investigation.
A friend recently asked me to cast an eye over a summons she has received for a speeding offence. She was going too fast for a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty, and was duly reported. She is going through the Single Justice Procedure, which is a new one on me, but I expect that it consists of one JP sitting alone with a clerk, dealing with the simpler cases. In days gone by I used to sit alone on Saturdays when I could usually expect about ten or fifteen cases, mostly remands or discharges. My maximum power was a penalty of one pound or one day's imprisonment, which could fill the bill for he usual overnight drunks and nuisances. The real work was deciding on bail, and that is a serious matter when you are on your own. I shall be interested to see how the new procedure works in practice; no doubt my one-time colleagues will be able to fill me in.
During my time on the bench I lost count of the number of occasions on which I had to remind colleagues, especially those recently appointed, that in addition to the tick box sentencing process and listening to mitigation of offenders we also had a duty of public protection. Many of these newer colleagues expressed surprise as this aspect of sentencing had never been mentioned during their training sessions. Important as it was and is, it is not to be confused with public perception. A bench in Llandudno has been castigated owing to public perception in its failing to consider public protection. In this case I fear the perception truly illustrates the bench`s misconceived attitude to punishment for punishment is exactly what a curfew is; a deprivation of liberty albeit without being held within the confines of an institution built for that purpose.
As the clamour increases for rehabilitation to take precedence over punishment for lower level criminality I fear that J.P.s might be enveloped within that approaching cloud of optimistic benevolent wet eyed mistiness which looks for the good and overlooks the evil.
Several discussions and questions recently about Appropriate Adults (AA) in police custody for vulnerable people that I want to quickly cover. In case you’re not aware, an Appropriate Adult is someone who, according to the Codes of Practice to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 must be called to police custody for anyone under the age of 18yrs or anyone who is ‘mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable’. They must be present for legal rights being administered, police interviews about the allegations and various other things. Al sounds straight-forward enough, doesn’t it?! You can just imagine the booking in procedure where the custody sergeant tells the arresting officer, “He’s only 17yrs old, get an appropriate adult on the phone and ask them to come down here.” Usually this will be the person’s parent or guardian and if there is no-one available, you can ring children’s social services as there is a statutory duty to act as an AA for someone who cannot otherwise be...
For many reasons as varied as increased numbers of immigrants and determination of public bodies to prosecute, magistrates` courts are often the scene where somebody with English very much a second or even third language comes into contact with legal officialdom. Those defendants facing charges eg of freeloading on buses or trains, having no TV license, being drunk & disorderly or driving without a valid license often have difficulty real or for effect in telling the court what it needs to know and answering even simplified questions. All courts must provide an interpreter to...
Over the last few years increasing restrictions have been placed upon magistrates` courts concerning remands in custody. The natural corollary to that position is the imagination of District Judges and Justices of the Peace in the imposition of conditions by which bail is granted. However those imposed by ex colleagues at Walsall Magistrates` Court last week on a tattoo artist must be the most esoteric for quite some time. He was ordered to comply as follows by the bench chairman, "You must not carry out the removal of body parts...........” Burke and Hare weren`t let off that easily in Edinburgh in 1828 but then of course they had more sinster and evil intent.
It seems to me that we, as a society, owe a remarkable debt to police officers and their civilian colleagues.
Pause for a moment to think about what we ask of the men and women in blue – what we expect of them.
Amongst the humdrum and the routine, we expect them to go where most wouldn’t and to do what most couldn’t:
Into the hurting places
Into the dangerous places
Into the damaged places
Into the violent places
Into the broken places
Into the frightening places
Into the confusing places, where nothing is quite as it seems
Into the distressing places
Into the thin spaces between life and death
And we expect them to deal with what they find there.
They don’t always get it right – sometimes they get it very wrong – but, mostly, they carry out their duties with immense courage, remarkable compassion and endless humanity. I, for one, am grateful to them.
And, alongside a debt of gratitude, we also owe them a far greater level of understanding about the impact that working life can have on them – about the scars that they...