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Police: THE LEGAL PYRAMID

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Currently the nation has the opportunity to see and hear the finest legal brains exercising their minds on the prime minister`s recent proroguing of parliament.  We all should be proud that the pinnacle at the very top of the judicial pyramid can produce such exquisite minds on and before the bench. However the very careful considerations and histories which have brought us this bounty are the antithesis of the situation at the base of said structure. Availability of even the most limited legally qualified mind is now rarely available for the millions who appear annually before the bench in magistrates courts.  The provisions for any form of rehabilitation  for the 70% of offenders who are addicts involved in violent and/or acquisitive offending are in practice few and far between.  Consideration of a non court pathway if it has been considered at all by MOJ has been given short shrift.  By the actions of Chris Grayling the probation service is struggling to cope with demands upon it with consequent reactions from a staff whose morale is as...

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Police: MOJ CONTROL BY MANAGED DECAY

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
In some respects the criminal justice system doesn`t know whether it`s coming or going.  That directionless state can, I suppose, be placed at the feet of the four prime ministers of the last  decade who have saddled arguably the most important pillar of our democratic society with no less than eight Justice Secretaries each of whom had his/her "vision".  An obvious example of this antithesis to joined up thinking is the confused attitude to sentencing.  Ever since it was decided that judges and magistrates could not be trusted to sentence according to the structured sentencing system which had been inculcated into them all, Sentencing Guidelines have become the bible for all sentencing decisions from the very simplest to the most serious. The original Guidelines of 2010 have been modified as almost an annual undertaking.  The custodial powers of magistrates courts have been mooted to be increased to twelve months from the current six to being abolished altogether.  The newly appointed current incumbent of Petty France has...

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Police: COURTS CAN PROTECT SCHIZOPHRENICS BUT CANNOT REHABILITATE ALCOHOLICS OR ADDICTS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Every magistrates` court every week has before it a Darren Marples, of no fixed abode. He might have a different name, he might be black or he might occasionally be female but he invariably has a long history of public order offences and is more often than not of no fixed abode. He is always an alcoholic and/or drug addict. It is not unlikely that he has in the past served one or more short custodial sentences. In the past he might have had a court order made to address his alcoholism/addiction. If he were married he is now separated or divorced. If he had children he is no longer in touch with them.


Darren Marples should be confined by a compulsory order to an institution where he could be treated just as those in the appropriate circumstances can be sectioned and treated by mental health workers having if necessary been granted a warrant of entry from a Justice of the Peace. Of course those financially equipped can avail themselves of all the help and assistance available to...

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Police: MUSINGS ON THURSDAY 5

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
During my tenure on the bench I had several cases where a foreign offender appeared to be eligible for deportation; in theory at least. It would seem from my experiences and cases publicly reported that expelling an offender who comes within the guidelines is virtually impossible insofar as the process is Kafkaesque in its complexity. Therefore IMHO for a district judge to cry "wolf" in this case is bluster and bluster is unwise from judicial figures. 

Of all the iniquitous financial reductions imposed upon the justice system perhaps the very worst is the reduction in the availability of legal aid.  At Barkingside and Romford magistrates' courts notice has been given that there will be  further difficulties for defendants as fewer solicitors will be available to assist them.  This is a national disgrace but apart from most professionals will be recognised as such only by those caught up in the court system. 

It`s unusual for a defendant being given the maximum custodial sentence at a magistrates court also having that sentence suspended....

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Police: DEATH OF COURT REPORTING

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
From time to time I have commented on court reporting or the lack thereof in recent times.  What was once a sure way of a local newspaper filling some column and fulfilling its publishing objectives was to have young would be journalists attend the local magistrates court when these courts were truly "local" and return to their editor with a thousand words for publication in the next edition.  Of course that was in pre Facebook, Twitter and Instagram days when using a phone away from home or office usually meant looking for a red box with a glass door near to or on a high street. Those were also the days when shame and shaming went some way in curbing unseemly or unlawful public behaviour. And lo! let there be the internet and mass communication was created and local print media entered the darkness.  I have considered for many years that televising of magistrates courts is a matter of "when" and not "if" and that that this innovation will become reality in the face of opposition from government which indicates increasingly that a...

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Police: ISLAMOPHOBIA BY CIVITAS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
For the first time since this blog began in 2009 I have no hesitation in using my whisper of a voice in copying in full the just published article from CIVITAS on the topic of a proposed definition of that contrived word "Islamophobia".  With magistrates being crucified metaphorically of course if their language deviates from what the MOJ language police deem appropriate this should not be without interest to many whose words are scrutinised as if there were a mistake in the number of angels on the proverbial pinhead. 

 What next for attempts to define 'Islamophobia'?

One of the outstanding issues that Theresa May left for Boris Johnson’s government to pick up this summer concerned demands for there to be an officially-sanctioned definition of 'Islamophobia'. Campaigners have long been calling for one, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims increased the pressure late last year by producing its own definition, describing Islamophobia as a ‘type of racism’. Given that Muslims are of a religious faith...

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Police: A JP`s WILFUL REFUSAL OR CULPABLE NEGLECT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
During training all new magistrates are told that if they or a close relative, or someone known to them has an involvement in a case which comes before them they must declare an interest and usually recuse themselves from any participation. Obviously the general guidance can be only that; general.  Certainly after a year or more on the bench a magistrate will have learned from colleagues when to consider if they are in breach of said guidance and of course the Deputy Justices Clerk is there for advice.  Therefore there appears to be no excuse for this woman although her name has not as yet appeared in cases disciplined by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. This would seem to be wilful refusal to act judicially or culpable neglect on her part.  No doubt the full story will out. 


Police: PHONING AT THE WHEEL NEEDS A RE-THINK

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Without exception government departments employ hundreds if not thousands of people to spread the word; the word they want we, the public,  to hear on the basis that all  words of opposing opinion  will, if not drowned out, be lost in the cacophony that results.  Nowhere is this attempt at control more evident than within the Ministry of Justice which day by day is becoming an oxymoron. With all the problems facing the MOJ, last week the House of Commons Transport Committee with or without consultation with its colleagues at Justice or Home Office decided to recommend that all mobile phone use whilst driving be banned.  This announcement, of course, made headlines in all media. But in practical terms there is no way that a measure such as this with dubious supposed statistics at its rear end will make it into law.  There are as far as I know no statistics on driving convictions or penalty points allocated for the use of in car hands free phone use.  The so called eminent MPs might have issued a warning against a driver...

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Police: ANOTHER COURT INTERPRETER PROVIDER BITES THE DUST

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Since 2012 I have been commenting on the less than satisfactory history  of court interpreting that began with the yet to be investigated scandal of Applied Language Solutions` contract with the Ministry of Justice that year.  The MOJ for its part is regularly issuing notices of how efficient the current service is but apparently old habits die hard when it comes to that organisation`s signing of contracts.  

A sub contractor for these services went out of business last week.  It is now obvious that all government departments are obsessed with outsourcing.  In the oft forgotten days of the Callaghan administration and earlier, government employees used their trade union affiliations to cause havoc to public services.  I remember the three day week of 1972 and eating by candle light.  I remember rats searching in uncollected rubbish in 1979.  There was no doubt that Maggie Thatcher`s reforms to prevent such events was welcome relief but now the pendulum has swung to the maximum of its arc.  The principle of...

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Police: CAMERON OR JOHNSON; WHAT`S THE DIFFERENCE?

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


All those interested will have by now made up their minds whether or not our newly enthroned prime minister was showing “leadership” or being unwise in speaking out in support of “tough” sentencing. My own opinions on his and David Cameron`s similar comments and particularly of the Sentencing Council`s tick box structure have been mentioned here on more than one occasion. Cameron when PM revealed, perhaps without too much forethought, his thinking processes on the Sentencing Council.  He is quoted in The Telegraph at the time  as saying,

“My mum was a magistrate for 30-odd years and you don’t go on being a magistrate just reading the handbook and working out exactly what sentence is handed down. You respond to local circumstances, to the sense of right and wrong in that community.”

And that is precisely where the dispute in current sentencing now lies. For some years we have been told to do exactly that which is on the tin or top cover if preferred; read the handbook [guideline] and work out exactly...

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Latest The Justice Of The Peace Stories

THE LEGAL PYRAMID
MOJ CONTROL BY MANAGED DECAY
COURTS CAN PROTECT SCHIZOPHRENICS BUT CANNOT REHABILITATE ALCOHOLICS OR ADDICTS
MUSINGS ON THURSDAY 5
DEATH OF COURT REPORTING

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