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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Today I am taking the unusual step in copying below a complete page from today`s Law  Society Gazette detailing changes in magistrates courts.  These changes as indicated in the article, as readers will find, are a direct result of Tory governments cutting and slashing funds to our justice system over the last decade. Of course the official statement is that the Covid 19 epidemic has been the cause but nobody remotely concerned with our courts system will echo that because as insiders we know really what has been happening.  The very essence of our summary justice is a bench of three.  I know only too well that if that number is reduced there is too much scope for one opinion to ride roughshod over another especially with an imbalance of experience between the two and or personality profiles which might appear when there is reduced discussion. It will be very inconvenient for witnesses and/or defendants with family arrangements to be in a courtroom at 8.00pm or longer. And finally there seems to be an assumption that...

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Police: Musings on the MCA

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

The Mental Capacity Act continues to consume a number of the queries I receive about policing and mental health.  The point of this post is not to repeat the content of those I’ve already written, but just to highlight the ongoing issues which form my focus when I listen to the questions coming on social media.  You can read the previous posts I’ve written in the paramedic series of blogs (which, of itself, tells you that many of these situations involve the police’s interface with the ambulance service) and of course, the Quick Guide on the MCA.  It’s worth bearing in mind also, the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019 will take effect at some point and this will provide far more words within section 4B of the Act, which you’ll see shortly, is key to many of the problems we continue to see.

I want to emphasise three things here, above what I’ve written before –

  • The balance of probabilities
  • The least restrictive principle
  • ‘Restraint’ versus a ‘deprivation of liberty’.


I may,...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Like many other Justices of the Peace when I began sitting in an actual court as a new appointee I was informed of the advantages of joining the Magistrates Association.  For a fairly small outlay I considered it a no brainer. I had in my professional life reached the rarified heights of being on the national council of the professional organisation which looked after the interests of its members including me.  Only later did I discover that the MA according to its charitable status did and does nothing to protect or support the individual member. The two magisterial colleagues, however,  who were our bench`s representatives on the MA council seemed to enjoy their position and persuaded many to attend the occasional lectures sponsored by the organisation. About seven years into my tenure I attended MA headquarters with a couple of colleagues having accepted an invitation to explore ways in which members could use their expertise in their commercial/academic/professional lives to the MA`s advantage.  I offered some...

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Police: Chief Constable’s blog: From pillar to post

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

My September challenge is to try and ensure in exceptional times West Midlands Police does not lose a year in making progress on our vision of preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need through the “This work matters” strategy.

Some of you may admire my optimism given the challenges we are dealing with so let us start there!

The need to dial up our work on COVID restrictions is now very pressing given the global and local upturn in infections. This time of course there is no lockdown and we are very busy with normal demand. The good news is the multi-agency team in each local area is on a better footing. We have a much better picture on where infection risk is highest, though the quality of this is reliant on testing information.

We have been very successful under Operation Reliant on dealing with large gatherings. We are now trying to focus on gatherings of six and facemasks in key areas like public transport. When you are out and about please challenge and...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Many interested parties have wondered what has become of so called "leadership magistrates" appointed as the toads of the Ministry of Justice three years ago the T word being used of course in its pejorative form although whether the current incumbents have thick or poisonous skins is beyond my ken. All that is known publicly are their names and regions although that information had to be dragged out of Petty France.  Further details will be found on this site by typing "leadership magistrates" in the search box.  These folk are not representative of magistrates. The only representative JPs are those elected to be chairman of their bench or representatives to the Magistrates Association the latter body annually appearing to lose its credibility to influence the MOJ.  The latest example is that it did not know exactly how many magistrates were currently on the MOJ list.  To be fair the MOJ until very recently did not know either.  It so happens the number was 1,000 less than previously accounted for. It seems that now...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


A cohesive society exists on trust. Individuals who travel from strangers to friendship or closer can only experience worthwhile relationships when there is mutual trust.  Although there are millions of pages of company and commercial law many, especially small businesses, base their relationships and often their commercial success on trust. It might have been the case that in politics also trust was a given particularly at the higher levels of party politics. We are seeing every day on our television screens and in various media that now trust has completely broken down with the lies of Donald Trump being listed almost daily by fact checkers on CNN. Sad to tell that innocuous virus which doesn`t originate in China but whose origin derives from the hearts of men (men includes women in this analogy) is increasing its infiltration into our daily lives. In this country it has been constrained by ancient rules, procedures and attitudes which I fear are no longer strong enough to...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Reporting from magistrates courts is by necessity often sparse.  Indeed the public is fortunate that court reporting is still undertaken at all by local print media. The cost for publishers is often an expense ill afforded.  My last court activity was over five years ago but after seventeen years on the bench it takes sometimes only a moment or two for old memories to be revived.  And that is what happened when I read this short report.  Now admittedly there is no detail on the offender`s circumstances, his previous offending (if any) or any other material that might have been offered to the bench in mitigation.  There is no information whether as is usually the case a probation pre sentence report was presented to the bench. We do not even know if he were represented although a duty solicitor must be engaged for an offender at first appearance if there is the possibility of custody. Whether or not this was the case we just don`t know. All in all this was court reporting at the lowest...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
This morning I have felt as if I have visited an aged relative`s house where my memories are of long ago and don`t seem linked to the occasion yet they are because otherwise these memories would not exist; the house and its contents would be viewed as a completely new experience. Today HMCTS has listed tomorrow`s court lists on line and publicly available for all magistrates courts in England and Wales. This is undoubtedly a "shout about it from the rooftops" occasion from an organisation which has trumpeted the benefits of hundreds of millions pounds invested in new technology. It has been a long time coming. A decade ago Camberwell Green court in South London was to be the showpiece of the latest technical advances then available.  It failed miserably.  There is no doubt that Convid-19 has accelerated these latest innovations in a courts system which has systematically been deprived of capital funding these last ten years. Naturally enough I have viewed the listings at my old court. ...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
On 22nd June I mused on judge only trials at crown court. This possibility in my opinion was based on the chaos in scheduling trials in crown courts owing to the close down caused by Convid 19. It would appear that there are about 30,000 trials awaiting a court date. Since crown courts re-opened about ten weeks ago only 250 trials have been heard in England and Wales.The delays are such that already a suspected drug dealer was ordered by HH Judge Keith Raynor to be released from prison where he had been on remand because next year was the soonest a court date could be found. The demands on space in the courts which are functioning are causing some anxiety as to possible communication and consequent jury tampering owing to the proximity of jurors to the defendants in the dock.  Indeed recently at one of the most high profile trials in recent years; that of those accused of killing PC Andrew Harper, a juror was dismissed after she was heard discussing matters with the defendants....

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Police: Today I will be mainly drinking...

Written by RSS Poster McNoddy
I'm hoping my reader follows me on Bookface.  If they do, they will know I often post a wee selfie of my occasional tipple there with the heading as above. 

I'm told folk are amazed by my alcoholism varied choice of refreshment on offer for consideration.

To be fair, I am particularly lucky to live in a country now blessed with numerous craft ale producers.  Perhaps the biggest newbie of them all being the very local BrewDog.  Since well after I started this blog this company has mushroomed to the point that Toy Townhas no less than 3 outlets.  I've managed to drop in to do a bit of quality control at their Edinburgh Airport outlet and their city outlets in Berlin and Barcelona. Never disappointed.

However, my favourite Scots craft brewery are William Brothers.  From the early days in Tyndrum and heather ale, they now produce a number of stunners.  My personal favourite being the intriguingly named 7 giraffes.  

I'm also blessed to be in walking distance of the world's only adult sweetie shop based in a filling station.  If...

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Shijuro (nearer Go-juro though…) is not georgedixon's relatively honest Blog (10)
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