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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...

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Police: Officer Down

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

As the world moves on, it leaves behind a broken-hearted bride, married just four weeks ago.

Officer down.

Most give what they can; some give all they have. PC Andrew Harper was one of those who gave everything, killed in the line of duty on the night of Thursday 15th August 2019. 

I never had the privilege of knowing him, but I know what kind of man he was – one who understood that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty. He was described by his Chief Constable as “a fantastic police officer” and “a great friend and man”. I suspect that I would have liked him very much.

The sense of staggering loss is greatest, of course, for those who knew him best and loved him most. I find myself thinking of his two families – the one he was born into and the one he was sworn into – but, most of all, I think of his widow, Lissie. She was supposed to be preparing for a honeymoon. Now she’s preparing for a funeral.

I can’t even begin to imagine.

Those who do the job know the risks of course. But there has been an inescapable sense of...

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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...

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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...

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Police: A week is a long time in politics and WMP

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

If you have been watching the news you will see a great deal is going on concerning a national increase of 20,000 police officers. I want to update you on what I know and what this means.  Before I do that a few other things.

Firstly, a huge thank you for the brilliant work over July.  More detail here, but there is considerable reduction in outstanding calls to what we have seen over the last two years.  We are no less busy but the impact of strong planning, escalation policies, more mobility, banded shifts, new control rooms shifts, webchat and general grip and hard work has resulted in much greater control.

Operationally we are starting to see a shift in the right direction on crimes like burglary. More work is needed still on robbery and violence but we have seen less high profile serious violence in the last few weeks.  August will keep on testing us but we are definitely in a stronger place than last year. Thank you.

August sees the start of our technology changes with MyTime, the new duty...

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Police: HOW AWFUL

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
There is no doubt, unless the opinion is emanating from an MP on the Tory side where it`s waffle from dawn to dusk or from the Opposition where it`s based on, "they`re wrong whatever the topic", that most clear thinking individuals when pressed will admit to apprehensions about our justice system.  For this short post the justice system is a loose term encompassing the process from the law being broken to a defendant being found guilty or acquitted. In order to bring a defendant to court s/he must first be arrested for an alleged offence. However only about 8% of such people are actually charged.  In the last eight years the number of prosecutions has fallen by around 45%. Eight years ago there were just under 900,000 cases at magistrates and crown courts. Latest figures are just under 500,000. Ten years ago there were 20,000 more warranted police officers than there are currently. And nine years ago in Bradford the crown court was being overwhelmed with cases it could not handle with available resources. I posted on this...

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Police: MUSINGS ON THURSDAY (2)

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Sometimes magistrates courts and information of interest to those who use them are bereft of interesting items and at other times the pieces of news flow like buses after a hold up.

Whilst on the bench the most onerous decision making for me was not about whether to convict or acquit, to jail or not to jail but to decide if it were unsafe to bail an untried defendant especially in cases of alleged domestic violence.  Since then the procedure regarding bail has changed drastically. If I were a cynic I would suggest that these changes were designed to reduce the number of people kept in prison on remand but of course government does not operate like a black market shyster during World War 2.  Being now unable to keep suspects on almost unlimited bail with the associated conditions imposed police must release them without any conditions until they are ready to charge; this is called released under investigation.  This has been the case since April 2017. Since then the Metropolitan Police have released 97 out of 284...

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Police: THE MOVING FINGER WRITES

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


Following on from my recent tweets when I alluded to the themes that have driven this blog along for almost ten years I surely must add perhaps the one of which I have most confidence that my fears will be realised; namely that the functions of Justices of the Peace comprising independent finders of fact and sentencers of the guilty will be but a historical memory within the next five or ten years. The pathway to our being snuffed out by governments with little regard for opposition within the whole panoply is there for anyone to see. Since the early 1990s an independent magistracy has been constrained and eventually consumed by what is now Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunal Service via the disestablishment of magistrates` courts` committees and the local arrangements alongside; arrangements such as the daily rostering of J.P.s` benches by independent court elected rota committees. Instructions for such procedures are now directed by senior judiciary. Management structures have been put in place to serve the needs of...

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Police: Tipping Point

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

I have written this blog several times in the last few weeks and restarted it as things keep changing.

Let’s start off with good news

On Thursday I was pleased to join PCs Lorna Walsh and Adam McWalter at the Police Federation Bravery Awards. They both faced up to men armed with knives. They, and colleagues from London were recognised for their bravery.

On the subject of bravery, and sadly sacrifice, this year I am cycling the West Midlands Chapter of the Police Unity Tour. This cycle ride is 200 miles over three days and raises funds for the Care of Police Survivors charity. WMP participation has been quite low and I would be keen to see more of us join this event. This year it looks like it will be Gill Wall from Intelligence, Richard Cooke from the Police Federation and I. Sponsorship is welcome and here is our just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wmpput2019. Try to imagine me flogging myself up a big hill as Richard lobbies me for more TASER!

Operation Fort was perhaps the most high profile investigation we...

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Police: LEADERSHIP MAGISTRATES ARE MOJ TOADS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Whenever there is talk on line, in the press, on TV and in Parliament of magistrates and their diversity or lack thereof, keyboards and throats get on their metaphorical high horses and proclaim how diverse the magistracy is in almost all aspects of gender, age and ethnic origin.  They try to be so transparent as to be free to the wind.  But when it comes to policies that affect magistrates courts those weasels in Petty France and Fitzrovia are rather less likely to be what you see is what you get organisations. 

For many decades the Magistrates Association has existed and I suppose still exists as an organisation of paying members of the magistracy to be their representative in dealings with government in its widest form.  At its peak about a decade ago or so there were around 30,000 magistrates of whom about 80% were MA members.  Now numbers of JPs have halved and the MA membership is a much lower percentage putting great financial strain on that organisation.  It has even stooped to the level of doing...

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