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Police: Sally Mays Judgment

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

You may remember me posting at the end of last year about a High Court judgment ordering a new inquest after the death of Sally Mays in Hull in 2014?  The written judgment is now available to read and I think it’s interesting, not just for two particular reasons —

  • It taught me even more detail than I knew before about the particular circumstances leading to Sally attending the Miranda Unit in Hull and detail matters, in the end.
  • It explains why a new inquest is both necessary and lawfully required, despite the fact there is no criticism about the Senior Coroner’s handling of the original inquest and because the new inquest will not substantially alter the previous finding that Sally’s care was “lamentable”.

The legal claim is around the existence of information which was deliberately withheld / not disclosed to the original inquest and which, despite it all still pushing in the direction of lamentable care, seems to raise the possibility that new facts could be found about further opportunities to intervene before...

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Police: MAGISTERIAL INNOVATIONS OR DIVERSION TACTICS FOR A BELEAGUERED P.M.

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

It`s been quite a week for the topic of magistrates and the magistracy.  For the last decade or to be more precise since 2010 this government of Tories with a contribution from the Lib Dems, before its leader decided that one million $ per annum from Facebook was a more worthy job than politics, has steadily sold off half the country`s magistrates courts to a present level of 150. It has overseen the deliberate reduction in the number of magistrates from 29,270 in 2009/10 to 12,651 currently.  Perhaps the thinking was that with that 50% reduction in court buildings a similar reduction in magistrates would be commensurate. Of course the MOJ and the cabinet arse lickers who approved this decision forgot to consider that the numbers of offenders  would not co-operate by reducing by half the numbers of offences committed. That same disjointed thinking was not confined to the legal sector. Highways for England proudly announced during this same decade that by converting  the hard...

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Police: JURIES AND JURORS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


Many dozens if not hundreds of PhDs have been granted and millions of words written on the subject of juries and all that surrounds that ancient concept of a suspected offender`s guilt  being determined by his/her peers.  The whole process once the 12 (15 in Scotland) good men (and women) and true have been escorted to the jury room has been shrouded in secrecy on pain of custodial sentence for those who transgress.  When juries were assembled from a restricted class within the population it could be argued that the variations in knowledge, awareness, education and even religion were minimal.  With the obstacles to jurors` requirements having today been reduced to a bare minimum the aforementioned variations have increased substantially. It is therefore not unrealistic for some jury members to have more knowledge than their fellows of evidence brought before the court.  As an aside when I was active I listened
 to a defendant explain, as part of his defence, supposed facts about his eye condition at a relevant time during...

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Police: COLSTON STATUE VERDICT//PREDICTIVE OF PROBLEMS YET TO COME

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

The trial and acquittal of the Colston 4 seems to have divided opinion of commenters along cultural lines; woke-v-conservative: self styled legal eagles who seem to value the letter of the law against those legal observers who value the spirit of that law when it comes into conflict with the letter. 

The action which precipitated the whole sorry affair was the death of a black man murdered by police in the state of Minnesota USA.  Apparently left leaning young white radicals cloaked in the shadow of some home grown black activists who themselves adopted the history of black slavery in America to their own political ends took it upon themselves to cause damage to the statue of an infamous slave trader of the 17th century. This trial could have been conducted in the magistrates court but the defendants opted for jury trial as was of course their right the charge being an either way matter. Whether or not such choice should remain in English law is another (contentious) matter.  The...

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Police: COURT REPORTING

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Actual court reporting is now no longer a mainstay of local media whether printed or otherwise.  That is more than just regrettable; it is a failure of local democracy insofar as it distances the individual from a major pillar which guarantees our freedom under the law.  When the time comes; and I write "when" not "if",  court proceedings are broadcast live it will be a step in the right direction for anyone anywhere to witness justice in action.  Paradoxically that very initiative will lead to much opposition to Court TV just as happened when the live televising of the House of Commons was first mooted in 1968.  It wasn`t until 21 years later that what is today an accepted adjunct to freedom of information began despite opposition from many of the so called "establishment".  So when a local newspaper publishes a retrospective of judges` sentencing remarks it should be required light reading for anyone interested in legal matters. The Liverpool Echo is to be congratulated for its contribution published 31st December.   




Police: 1984 AND THE EQUALITY TREATMENT BENCHBOOK

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

In the days of empire, and laterally when newspaper editors focusing on the pampered lives of the great and the good who were whiling away their fortunes on sun, sea and sex in the Caribbean, it was known as the silly season and to the rest of us as August.  In the days when the assizes were in session reports from these courts probably reached more of the population in that month than the rest of the year. Some judges became celebrities from their pithy comments; e.g.  ‘In England, justice is open to all, like the Ritz hotel.’ Not so much a joke as a cynical quote from an English judge, Sir James Mathew (1830-1908). Obviously he felt that justice was a luxury for the rich!  Judges being considered out of touch with the common man was a very accurate observation.  Those were the days. When so many receive their information rated as newsworthy by their social media source the silly season is now of twelve months duration. The ever present social pendulum within and without the Ministry of Justice...

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Police: Desperate Situation

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

The Independent reporting today NHS mental health services are in a “desperate” situation, largely over access to beds when admission to hospital under the MHA is needed.

This post need only be short – my reaction to reading this, frankly, was to wonder what has changed?

I suspect it’s the frequency with which the situations may be occurring or perhaps the frequency of us hearing about it, because there’s nothing fundamentally new about any of this.  This blog began about a decade ago and one of the earliest posts was about a (then) relatively recent European Court ruling in the MS v UK case – that was an Article 3 ECHR finding whereby a man suffered inhumane and degrading treatment in a police cell, after difficulty in ensuring his timely admission to hospital under the MHA.  (Apologies for again stressing this: his legal action was against the NHS for failing to get him out of custody and admitted in a timely way for treatment, not against the police for anything the officers did or didn’t do.). Potentially...

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Police: A CHRISTMAS RANT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

This time last year I posted inter alia that I was looking forward to the imminent arrival of a vaccine for all which would relieve most of us of the worry, torment and financial insecurity caused by Covid 19.  I commented also on the divisions in our society exacerbated by Black Lives Matter and the speed at which even the most outlandish theories can circle the world via social media and this was before most in this country had ever heard of QAnon and the invasion and deaths at the Capitol in Washington DC  were still two weeks distant. Since then we have had a new Lord Chancellor installed who seems to be more loyal to his political master  than to the concept of justice.  That should be of little surprise considering that that master so obviously puts his own position personally and politically ahead of that of the nation he is supposed to lead. Currently we face a further lockdown caused for the most part by a government that refuses to take strong measures against the so called antivaxers; fanatics who against all...

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Police: PROPOSED NEW BILL OF RIGHTS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


It behoves politicians especially those in government to be precise in the words they use to explain previous or future actions or events. Failure to do so in an age where these words can live longer in the webosphere than the biblical three scores years and ten of humankind can be disastrous. On the day when the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor is less than three months in post he has opened the debate on the can of worms that is the European Convention on Human Rights.  This organisation created in 1950, became operational in 1953 as a Court. It resulted from the inhumanity of the Nazis and the refugee crisis that followed World War 2 and was passed into UK law by the Labour government in 1998 as the Human Rights Act. It is not a court in the traditional sense and its members are not necessarily judges in the manner recognised in the UK. 

My comment on the composition in general is that a senior judge in addition to having the requisite knowledge of the law is also an expert on human psychology...

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Police: Anywhere Other Than a Dwelling

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

A number of questions in recent weeks about the types of location in which s136 MHA can be used.  —

In one recent circumstance, a presenter asked this in a training setting and one attendee quite fairly and promptly came back with “anywhere other than a dwelling”.  It’s as good an answer to give, unless you can quote the legislation but I want to go in to the reasons why we need to remember that this answer is, in the end, a short-hand summary of the legal situation.  It’s no doubt useful, but it is short-hand and it’s not what the law itself states.  I want to spend this post emphasising what the law in fact does state and why the short-hand can be problematic when it comes to some of the more unusual situations which do emerge.

First, let’s remember what sub-section, s136(1A) MHA states.  This is the section introduced in 2017 which altered the law away from the old “place to which the public have access” idea —

“(1A) The power of a constable under subsection (1) may be exercised … [anywhere]...

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