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Police: 18 IS TOO YOUNG TO BE A MAGISTRATE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Amongst many unexpected effects of the Convid 19 crisis the composition of juries in the crown court has come under scrutiny owing to the enormous backlog in trials which some experts are predicting could take four years or more to clear. This has caused some angst at the Ministry of Justice which has been suffering more than many other government departments from the austerity imposed from 2011 resulting in the closure of half the nation`s courts. 

The  jury system in England can be traced back to Henry II in the 12th Century becoming formalised under Magna Carta a century later when it can be said that the magistracy also came into being.  It wasn`t until 1919/1920 in the aftermath to the Great War that women became eligible both for the magistracy and for juries. From 1825 to 1962 a juror was required to own property.  In 1972 the age requirement for jury service was lowered from 21 to 18.   In 1988 the maximum age of jurors was raised from 65 to 70 and in 2016 to 75. In 1995/96 an inquiry undertaken by...

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Police: The Tate Tragedy

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I’m sure most people heard of the sickening attack on a young boy at the Tate Modern in 2019 – I don’t intend to cover the details as they are widely available (trigger warning for the hyperlink that follows) and this post intends to focus on nothing other than a key decision for the judge at the criminal trial of Jonty Bravery who pleaded guilty to attempted murder following the attack.  Last week, the judge heard argument from lawyers and opinion from psychiatrists about whether the defendant should be hospitalised or imprisoned, after his guilty plea.  A legal decision of this kind sits solely with the trial judge, who must consider reports from experts and hear the legal arguments, before reaching their decision.  On the one hand, the defendant has a history of mental health issues of a kind which convinced two forensic psychiatrists to provide a medical recommendation for admission to hospital which would allow the judge to consider various kinds of order under Part III of the Mental Health Act, usually a (restricted)...

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Police: Chief’s blog: A time for hurting and a time for progress

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

After three weeks of protests and discussions following George Floyd’s death and the relaxation of lockdown rules I want to recap on where I believe we are and the next steps.

I indicated a few weeks back that a combination of tensions on race, easing of lockdown and the pressure on young people coupled with the return of normal business would create a challenging summer for us. After several weeks of protests we are now dealing, through Operation Reliant, with impromptu raves, a return of vehicle cruises this week and continuing gang related tensions. The demands are unlikely to ease and there will be additional pressures posed when licensed premises open in July.

I think this is a very difficult context for us all trying hard to do our job. The response has been outstanding from the force.

I do however suspect many of you are concerned over the challenges of using powers in this context. I want to reinforce that I support you in the work you do. Policing is difficult, messy and...

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Police: JUDGE ONLY TRIALS??

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Historians or perhaps pedants will wax loudly that the history of trial by jury in England goes back to Magna Carta in 1215 which I suppose has some basis in fact if one is referring to the trial of lords and nobles of the realm. So: a very brief history....... For the common man or woman no such justice was available; a bench of magistrates consisting mainly of local landowners and/or power brokers was the seat of justice with considerable sentencing options; although the most serious offences of the day were sent to Assize Courts. Up to the middle of the 19th century JPs could sentence offenders to hanging. They could also sentence to transportation to North America and the Caribbean, to whipping and the stocks and to fines. Needless to say these benches consisted  of men only. It was in 1920 in the aftermath to the Great War that women became eligible for juries. The acts of 1825 laid down the following qualifications for jury service. In England and Wales they were  that a juror should possess an income of £10 a year...

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Police: MAGISTRATES` ETHNICITY

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


This is a very short FYI  latest statistics table on the gender and ethnicity composition of the magistracy.


Police: Guest blog: Policing does not separate me from my black origin or the pain of my community – by PC Andrea Reynolds

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

I am a black female Police Officer of African-Caribbean descent, currently serving with the West Midlands Police. I speak because I am overwhelmed by the social structures that seek to erode the essence of who and what I am.  I am wearied by the social statements and conversations that seek to minimise my contributions to the noble profession of policing and my personal sacrifices to see a cohesive and acceptable level of organisational justice, quality of service delivery and engagement with black communities.

I am often forced to remind myself that I walk the great policing beat for miles and miles with African feet! Policing does not separate me from my black origin or the pain of my community.

PC Andrea Reynolds

PC Andrea Reynolds

Rolling forward towards the end of a policing career, that has seen the impact of historic events and decisions seep negatively into the heart of all communities.  These decisions have shouted subliminal...

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Police: EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP AND APPROPRIATE RESULT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
I`ve reported here on many occasions on the excuse often put forward by those disqualified from driving as totters; an accumulation of 12 points on their driving license; namely "exceptional hardship".  Putting these words into the search box will open many of these past posts for those with time and interest. All too often both before and since my retirement I have been astonished at benches` decisions favouring the offender on many occasions.  However today there is a report in the Gazette and Herald of an appeal in the crown court by an offender whose plea of exceptional hardship was rejected by magistrates at his original hearing a few months ago. The words of the presiding judge flanked by two magistrates are as clear and damning as any similar I have ever read.  His reasoning and those remarks should be essential learning material  for all magistrates.


Police: BACK TO THE FUTURE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

The government doesn`t jail people; courts jail people.  Such a simple statement of truth but one which Tory governments seem to consider unimportant and there to be defied.  Today`s headline in TheTimes is so revealing.  



It was only yesterday in a written answer the Lord Chancellor wrote:-

Robert Buckland: ...network for released prisoners or people on community orders. My ambition is to ensure that community sentences are so robust and effective that, when it comes to decision making by judges and *magistrates*, they will be the default choice as opposed to very short sentences that can frankly do more harm than good.

To quote the song, "what a difference a day makes". Just as in 2011 during and after the riots which enveloped many cities the then Tory dominated government issued "orders" to magistrates courts that defendants facing either way charges should be sent to the crown court. Regular readers here might be aware that last Tuesday June 9th I wrote of my own experiences at that time when my two colleagues and I...

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Police: A.C.A.B.

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I’m married to Bear. She’s wonderful.

At the start of this week, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary: eighteen years spent in the company of my best friend; eighteen years spent listening and learning and having the rough edges rubbed off me.

Back in 2002, in the weeks leading up to our wedding, we signed up for one of those marriage preparation courses – a series of sessions designed to get us ready for the big day and all the adventures that lay beyond. The chosen subject for one of those sessions was communication and, during it, we were taught about two specific words that you ought to make every effort to avoid using in any relationship:

‘Always’ and ‘Never’.

Eighteen years along the road, I can attest to the wisdom of that advice.

You know how things can begin to unravel when you find yourself falling out with the person you love most in the world:

“You never take my concerns seriously…”

“You always try to fix things when all I want you to do is listen…”

“You always leave your dirty stuff on the...

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Police: JUDICIAL DINOSAURS WILL SOON BE EXTINCT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
I will be unsurprised if within the next few months we will see more than the expected appeals against guilty outcomes in both magistrates and crown courts based upon a perception of racial discrimination.  No doubt police will face a rising number of such accusations. There are some highly motivated individuals at all levels of society who will use the current unrest to further their political cause. There will be a few honourable people involved but it is unlikely that ultra left wing organisations and their members who flourished under the leadership officially and unofficially of Jeremy Corbyn and his Marxist cohort will allow this opportunity to pass as a pathway to their target of discrediting everything a freely elected although incompetent government has to offer to our democracy.  There is no doubt that there has been and still is a minority of police officers at all levels of seniority who are racist.  The scandals of American policing whilst not being the norm in this country have a...

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