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Police: ARE GUIDELINES ACTUALLY REQUIRED FOR "EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP"?

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


I have posted here more times than I care to remember on the topic of exceptional hardship.  They can be accessed by putting those words in the search box.  I have also posted not infrequently that the sentencing abilities of a magistrates bench have been greatly restricted by the ever increasing "guidelines" from the Sentencing Council. There must now be thousands of magistrates who have no experience of a bench under an experienced chairman following a well developed sentencing structure in which, sometimes under the guidance of a legal advisor and sometimes not, a sensible ladder of various and varying possibilities played out. The current system will, if not now, in time lead to a tick box system in which an algorithm will issue a sentence and the bench will be tasked with deciding if any amendments are needed for any individual case.  Exceptional hardship is one of the diminishing number of issues for which no guidelines currently exist although my...

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Police: PLUS CA CHANGE ...................

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


We now have the 8th Lord Chancellor/ Justice Secretary since 2010. It doesn`t need advanced mathematics to appreciate that at that rate it is impossible for anyone however gifted to truly appreciate all the nuances of the job and to set the direction of travel without the combined resources of those who keep the wheels turning ie the department`s civil servants.  But the great British public really doesn`t care about "justice" until perhaps the summons appears in their letter box.  Al they know is the few brief lines in their local paper or what they read or hear on social media:- Twitter Law. With in depth reporting of criminal matters becoming more sparse week by week, headline criminality excepted, it is cases like this which form the concept of "justice" in the public mind.  Compared to many that report seems comprehensive but it leaves the impression of "soft" justice: perhaps that is justified.  There is nothing reported by the presiding magistrate which seems to justify the leniency dished out to...

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Police: A PAT ON THE BACK

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


For the first time since my retirement I attended a magistrates court not long ago. In the past I have described,  as an insider, some of the shortcomings of my own court and the system in general.  Indeed much frustration has been ventilated here but the 10.00 a.m. start of that recent session demonstrated to me at least a facet of English justice of which I felt justly proud to have been a very very small part. Whether that experience was typical is another matter. 

In the witness box: a Spanish interpreter sworn in; at hand a young woman recently arrived from South America was to make a statutory declaration. She had recently received a notice from a firm of bailiffs demanding around £600 in fine plus costs for non payment of a fine for a motoring offence. Her declaration stated that for various reasons she had received no earlier notification that any offence had been committed, no demand for payment and queried the offence details themselves.

The procedure was carefully explained and translated for her and she left the...

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Police: ETHNIC PAKISTANI MURDER RATES BELOW THE HORIZON

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

 


A decade ago most people would have been hard put to offer a meaning to the term "woke".  They had gotten used to the term "politically correct" but there was another expression which had yet to appear amongst the deluge of print in broadsheets and others; "cancel culture".  The term "racist" had become common parlance decades ago.  Until perhaps thirty years ago it was used in its basic form as an adjective  to describe being prejudiced against or antagonistic towards a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised.  As a noun it identified being a racist as a person who is prejudiced against or antagonistic towards people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised. How times have moved on. Whilst the "N" word is virtually forbidden and rightly erased in almost any context there are still epithets in common parlance used to...

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Police: STAR CHAMBER 2021 STYLE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


A simple question; can justice in its myriad forms be secret?  The answer must be a resounding "no". Whether in the confines of a small room in a magistrates court where  the Single Justice Procedure is in operation,  in the hinterlands of China or at 81 – 82 Queens Building, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand London, WC2A 2LL, the home of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office,  the answer is the same; no, no and no. It is not fanciful nor an exaggeration to refer to the last named as a Star Chamber; a system with an ominous history.......... an English court which sat at the royal Palace of Westminster, from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century, and was composed of Privy Counsellors and common-law judges, to supplement the judicial activities of the common-law and equity courts in civil and criminal matters. Being under the suzerainty of the sovereign its processes are a historical treasure trove.  Indeed they were formalised as follows:-

The proceedings, recorded in English, gathered together the details...

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Police: POLITICS AND THE INTERESTS OF JUSTICE

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


Perhaps the single most reasonable criticism of our courts is that to many observers the sentence doesn`t fit the crime.  Very few matters, especially at magistrates courts, are reported in a degree of depth that allows knowledgeable and fair criticism. That in itself is IMHO a valid enough reason why media outlets and government should explore the benefits to each of live TV or on line screening of the day to day happenings at magistrates courts initially and crown courts in due course.  This post inter alia consists of extracts from recent newspaper reports which indicate sentencing which some readers might find disturbing (to paraphrase some of the ridiculous woke pronouncements heard every day prior to the showing of some TV programmes)  insofar as the apparent variation or inconsistency shown by the benches in question. Thousands of similar cases are heard every year.     

 The following case was heard at Reading Magistrates’ Court Friday, May 21

JORDAN HINDS, 27, of Holberton Road, Reading,...

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Police: TAXIS AND THE APPEAL COURT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


All those with more than a passing interest in criminal law will be well aware that verdicts and sentences at the magistrates court can be appealed at the crown court where a crown court judge and two magistrates will re hear the case.  This is entirely logical and understandable insofar it is rightly expected that under a judge`s scrutiny any deviations in the correct application of the law which occurred in the original hearing will not be repeated. However the magistrates with that aforementioned proviso have equal input into the determination of facts and the logical thinking in the imposition of sentence if indeed the defendant is found guilty. The single most disturbing factor of such process is that many benches do not explain an offender`s right to such an appeal process. For the ever increasing numbers of unrepresented defendants this is an omission for which I have the utmost contempt for my former colleagues.  Indeed I can recollect after making this information clear to an offender that in the retiring...

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Police: Risk Assessment

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I’m all too wary of newspaper coverage of cases which have appeared in courtrooms.  Having been directly involved in enough cases to know that coverage is necessarily partial, it often misses things which can be important to understanding what has occurred.  In fairness to newspapers, they have a few hundred words to summarise hearings whose case papers can sometimes require a porter’s trolley to wheel in a number of packing cases, so things will be left out!  It often means I read coverage and then say to others that I “have one or two hundred questions about all this.”

The Manchester Evening News’s recent coverage of the inquest after the death of Mr Martin Gibbons was especially interesting for a specific reason.  In just two short sentences, the coverage made a claim about the assessment and response to Mr Gibbons when he was in an Emergency Department (ED) which just made me wonder about things more generally.  Events leading to Mr Gibbons tragic death included his deteriorating mental health, discussion of...

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Police: ILLEGAL MIGRATION AND PRISONER REPATRIATION; IS THERE A SOLUTION?

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


It seems we have become accustomed every week of every summer to reading of the increased number of  individuals being assisted ashore on the south coast from a variety of flimsy often unseaworthy inflatable craft more suitable for cruising down a rural river than crossing the 22 miles of rough sea from the French coast.  For the last decade the Home Office, an institution described by John Reid a previous Home Secretary as not fit for service, has been unable to institute viable policies to control this illegal immigration. Indeed it is arguable that this failure alone contributed to the success of the Leave campaign. How foolish was the public to believe that outside the EU we would have more power to halt this influx than inside but that is another story.  Recently the Home Secretary has produced yet more legislation to try to control the masses fleeing war in the Middle East and Africa. Short of ramming these craft there is little doubt that whilst there are migrants with...

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Police: Serving the public: Paying the price

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

The last week has been one where the costs of policing and the sacrifice of officers and staff have been set out.

On Wednesday I attended the dedication ceremony of the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. After seven years of fundraising and planning, the new memorial has exceeded the expectations any of us could have. The new memorial is a doorway representing a threshold to a different space and the dangerous places where the police go. It stands tall across the arboretum as a place of focus; policing standing tall and taking its place in such a special places of memory. I strongly recommend you visit it.

Sadly the day was a painful one for families. I introduced families from the West Midlands, West Mercia and West Yorkshire to the Prince of Wales. They talked about the impact on them of the day and their loss. The pain remains no matter how many years have passed. I am so grateful to the many staff from the force and our Comms Department who helped make the day...

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