I would assume that most readers here will be familiar with the phrases; "now you see it now you don`t", "what aboutery" in relation to arguments, "tactical deception" and others similar. Whilst individually they might refer to different scenarios they have a common thread which is to deflect and/or to deceive an opposing party into believing that an action physical, verbal, or military will be opposite to that expected by the onlooker, debater or enemy. The Ministry of Justice with its public relations and advertising spending hidden from public view is a master of those aforesaid tactics.
In the last couple of months media have been bombarded with stories of how throttling is to be made a crime, secret justice in the magistrates courts and that rape complainants [often wrongly written and spoken of as "victims"] will be offered opportunity to give evidence at a distance and /or to a court cleared of the public: all this whilst as a result of the deliberate policies during the last decade of slashing the MOJ budget by eg...
It is of no great surprise when visual media covering visits of female royalty or lesser supposed personalities or leaders to middle eastern countries publish images of said visitors dressed in such a manner that we are told they are paying respect to the mores of those host countries. These outward manifestations of "respect" would often include the wearing of head coverings of a form associated with the Muslim religion and or trousers when that form of dress would be unusual in a western setting. Most observers would not in any way offer criticism. For mere mortals visiting such countries following local modesty rules is more than just out of politeness or respect it is an absolute necessity to avoid falling foul of local gendarmerie and a possible jail sentence or forced deportation. For visitors to this country or immigrants the British and especially Londoners are and have always been tolerant to seeing people attired in all manner of national costumes from the lavish colours of the silk dresses of...
Being retired from any job allows time for some introspection. As a retired magistrate who has enjoyed sharing his opinions since 2009 this freedom has offered me opportunities to muse on matters of national importance and occasionally to comment [criticise?] on real time happenings at magistrates courts. Today`s effort is one of those times.
I was active when dedicated domestic violence courses became compulsory for any JP who sat or wished to sit in those courts. I recollect at the time that the providers were heavily dependent on statistics from USA and very much dedicated to male on female violations. I would imagine that such courses have been modified since then. However a recent case at Grays Magistrates Court caught my eye. As bad a case it is possible to be heard outside the crown court. Indeed from the report it seems it was undercharged resulting in a suspended custodial sentence for the offender. Readers can access the matter here and it is refreshing to note the detail often omitted these days from the...
I sat on an inner city bench for seventeen years until enforced retirement allowed me to retain use of the J.P. suffix and automatically relegated me to the "supplemental list" where a very few magisterial functions were still within my authority. The most significant of those is the authority to countersign passport applications as countersignatories must either work in (*or be retired from) a recognised profession and Justice of the Peace is a recognised profession. Those on the supplemental list or retired magistrates cannot:-
Sit in a magistrates’ court to adjudicate on cases
Sign summonses or warrants, including search warrants
Be a member of any committee or any other body as a magistrate
Take part in the election of chairman or deputy chairman of any bench
Attend any formal or business meeting of their former bench
Countersign an application for a shotgun or firearms licence
Sign off statutory declarations
There is, however, a price to be paid for those who wish to retain the kudos of having those two letters...
There is no doubt that many previously ignored facets of life in the European Union previously taken for granted are now being compared to life in a supposedly independent UK. Extremists on both sides of the Brexit argument are still raising their voices metaphorically and in real time to offer their opinions many of which are bereft of sensible argument but complete with invective and ever more strident haranguing of the perceived opposition. One aspect central to our collective lives continues to underperform using Covid 19 as a convenient excuse; our criminal justice system. In the week ending 20 September 2020, there were 509,347 cases outstanding in the magistrates' courts and at the end of Q3 2020 there were 50,918 outstanding cases at the Crown Court, an increase of 44% on Q3 2019 (35,478 cases). This is the highest level of outstanding cases seen since the end of 2015 and continues the consistent increases seen since Q1 2019. I have yet to read anywhere of any significant member of the legal...
I was never a management consultant or worked in HR but I was an employer who had at his maximum ten employees for whom I had to provide a safe, secure well organised working environment. Like any employer it was my responsibility to organise these people so that they and the business put their best endeavours forward for all to prosper. That included recognising and maximising the best abilities of each person. Even in such a small workforce the recognition in title and remuneration of outstanding talent was essential. In large national organisations huge departments of specialists are employed to do much the same and none more so than in police forces. To that end the 2020 ratio of serving officers was as below:-
3.26 inspectors/chief inspector
1.85 chief inspectors/superintendent
2.97 superintendents/chief superintendent
1.36 chief superintendents/chief officer
These ratios are based on the chart below.
Whether or not these numbers are as efficient for purpose as they...
It is not uncommon when reading legal reports from China that their conviction rate is around 99%. Most observers will remark that such a conviction rate reeks of a totalitarian system of government where the courts and the legal system are but servants of said government and that as a system of so called justice it fails miserably to reach even the lowest benchmarks regarded as indicative of a system which is free and open for all regardless of rank or position. In other words in plain English defendants are more or less rubber stamped as guilty even in the rare circumstances where they can offer a defence in the real meaning of that word as it applies we hope in this country. At the other end of the outcome scale there is a an apparent never ending complaint in this country that cases of rape are inefficiently investigated by police, undercharged by CPS and too often conclude with findings of not guilty. The question for all involved within the legal system is quite simply what is the "correct" rate of conviction:...
I doubt there is a single reader of this blog who is unaware of the drastic reduction in legal aid for those attending magistrates courts. In 2019/20 the criminal legal aid budget in England and Wales was £897 million compared with £896 million in the previous year. Criminal legal aid peaked in 2003/04 at over £2.6 billion. Between 2005/06 and the most recent financial year it has fallen by £676 million in real terms. Civil legal aid has also been cut since 2005/06. After peaking at £1.2 billion in 2010/11 it fell to just £651 million by 2015/16.
Not only does financial strangling of the legal aid availability reduce the numbers of lawyers in court it imposes a higher standard of performance from presiding justices to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done. It has led to a reduction of the numbers of lawyers financially able to undertake work as duty solicitor. The biggest cuts were introduced in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 but provision has been stripped away for...
Will they? won`t they? push me, pull me to the top of the hill and push me pull me down again. These remarks seem to be the underlying propelling thrusts of the government`s policy on BBC TV licensing. Literally for years Tory governments have been hinting that the bloated BBC cannot be reliant on the funding (read taxes) provided by every household which receives live television broadcasting. This news was greeted positively by many outside the family of luvvies who derive enormous proportions of their income and wealth from those who are unable to feed their families even with the support of social security payments. More recently the current occupants of political power have hinted strongly that failure to pay the license fee will be decriminalised; ie such charges would be brought through county court and not the magistrates court where currently around 130K such cases are heard annually which works out at about 15 per week per court. Many if not all these alleged offenders` cases are decided...
Regular readers will be familiar with my gripes on exceptional hardship. New readers might want to put those words into the search box for further reading. I have also opined on the pseudo secretive newish process of the single justice procedure. A recent case which has been reported here appears to involve the exceptional hardship defence against driving disqualification. What is not reported is whether or not the offender was represented or whether proof re his application was requested or supplied. Indeed when I was active (before the SJP) exceptional hardship application was usually made at a date announced after the original award of points that put a totter over the top.
Perhaps somewhere there is information that would clarify in general situations as above. It is too easy to believe that as the "Sun" journalist might write, "Too many offenders are getting away with it."