Blogs from Police &   
 other Emergency Service Workers


Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Every magistrates` court every week has before it a Darren Marples, of no fixed abode. He might have a different name, he might be black or he might occasionally be female but he invariably has a long history of public order offences and is more often than not of no fixed abode. He is always an alcoholic and/or drug addict. It is not unlikely that he has in the past served one or more short custodial sentences. In the past he might have had a court order made to address his alcoholism/addiction. If he were married he is now separated or divorced. If he had children he is no longer in touch with them.

Darren Marples should be confined by a compulsory order to an institution where he could be treated just as those in the appropriate circumstances can be sectioned and treated by mental health workers having if necessary been granted a warrant of entry from a Justice of the Peace. Of course those financially equipped can avail themselves of all the help and...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
During my tenure on the bench I had several cases where a foreign offender appeared to be eligible for deportation; in theory at least. It would seem from my experiences and cases publicly reported that expelling an offender who comes within the guidelines is virtually impossible insofar as the process is Kafkaesque in its complexity. Therefore IMHO for a district judge to cry "wolf" in this case is bluster and bluster is unwise from judicial figures. 

Of all the iniquitous financial reductions imposed upon the justice system perhaps the very worst is the reduction in the availability of legal aid.  At Barkingside and Romford magistrates' courts notice has been given that there will be  further difficulties for defendants as fewer solicitors will be available to assist them.  This is a national disgrace but apart from most professionals will be recognised as such only by those caught up in the court system. 

It`s unusual for a defendant being given the maximum custodial sentence at a magistrates court also having that...

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Police: Can’t Fix This For You

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I would like to attempt to slay one of the biggest fallacies in all of the debate about how the Mental Health Act should operate, not least because it often happens in connection with operational policing.  And I’m going to fail – because I know that the very proposition I’m about to tackle will lead to the proposition being repeated as proof that the attack on it is fallacious!  You’ll have heard it said many times, especially by Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) – “you can’t section someone unless you’ve got a bed”.  Also, “You can’t make an application [under the MHA] unless you know you’ve got a bed”.

We’ve seen this play out in Coroner’s courts, most notably in recent times in the death of David Stacey where this whole ‘bed’ thing ended up with a finding of legal neglect contributed to David’s death.  There was discussion in that case and a Preventing Future Deaths notice about legal compliance and like David’s case, this stuff often unfolds in connection with...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
From time to time I have commented on court reporting or the lack thereof in recent times.  What was once a sure way of a local newspaper filling some column and fulfilling its publishing objectives was to have young would be journalists attend the local magistrates court when these courts were truly "local" and return to their editor with a thousand words for publication in the next edition.  Of course that was in pre Facebook, Twitter and Instagram days when using a phone away from home or office usually meant looking for a red box with a glass door near to or on a high street. Those were also the days when shame and shaming went some way in curbing unseemly or unlawful public behaviour. And lo! let there be the internet and mass communication was created and local print media entered the darkness.  I have considered for many years that televising of magistrates courts is a matter of "when" and not "if" and that that this innovation will become reality in the face of opposition from government which indicates...

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Police: Banning Custody

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

The next time the Home Office publish statistics on the use of s136 and the locations to which people are removed after use of police powers under the MHA, we should learn that it’s down in to double figures – under 100 for the whole country. Given that it was over 11,000 around 2008, this is quite an achievement, on the face of things. Of course, it’s always going to be “right” that people in crisis access settings which not custodial, like prisons or police stations, and the 2017 amendments to the Mental Health Act preventing the use of police cells as Place of Safety in all but the most exceptional circumstances for adults.

To provoke debate and prompt thought amongst my fellow police inspectors who must authorise this stuff(!), I would never, ever authorise the use of a police station in exceptional circumstances. This is mainly because someone matching the criteria would be at grave risk away from the kind of urgent medical support that would (or should) be available in mental health units or emergency departments and...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
For the first time since this blog began in 2009 I have no hesitation in using my whisper of a voice in copying in full the just published article from CIVITAS on the topic of a proposed definition of that contrived word "Islamophobia".  With magistrates being crucified metaphorically of course if their language deviates from what the MOJ language police deem appropriate this should not be without interest to many whose words are scrutinised as if there were a mistake in the number of angels on the proverbial pinhead. 

 What next for attempts to define 'Islamophobia'?

One of the outstanding issues that Theresa May left for Boris Johnson’s government to pick up this summer concerned demands for there to be an officially-sanctioned definition of 'Islamophobia'. Campaigners have long been calling for one, and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims increased the pressure late last year by producing its own definition, describing Islamophobia as a ‘type of racism’. Given that Muslims are of...

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Police: Spitting at the Police

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Last week, the prosecution of a defendant under new legislation specific to emergency services personal was was abandoned as “not in the public interest” after a defendant had been charged with spitting at a police officer. The headline in the Daily Telegraph did a cracking job of conveying vagueness about the reasons behind this and because it relates to the mental state of the defendant, I thought a short blog of pure speculation on my part may be helpful to considering what may have gone on here.

First things first, the decision to abandon this prosecution was obviously nothing whatsoever to do with the fact it was new legislation and it was not a statement that spitting at police officers (or anyone else) is not in the public interest to pursue. Despite my reaction to the specifics of this being as uninformed as everyone else’s, what did strike me was how this was about the coverage and social media reaction to the Crown Prosecution Service decision was apparently focussed on whether this says something about the...

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Police: Call the Cops TV documentary

Written by RSS Poster Old Plod

 A series which  started earlier this week showed the reality behind the challenges officers from Devon and Cornwall experience every day.

Channel 4’s ‘Call the Cops’ docu-series started on Monday, August 19th at 9.30pm and will consist of 6 weekly episodes.

It is set to cover a wide-range of jobs across the force area - the largest geographical policing area in England - such as armed robberies, sexual assaults, missing people searches and domestic incidents.
It is also set to highlight the challenges Devon and Cornwall Police’s staff and officers have to face on a daily basis, including being on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse.


Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
During training all new magistrates are told that if they or a close relative, or someone known to them has an involvement in a case which comes before them they must declare an interest and usually recuse themselves from any participation. Obviously the general guidance can be only that; general.  Certainly after a year or more on the bench a magistrate will have learned from colleagues when to consider if they are in breach of said guidance and of course the Deputy Justices Clerk is there for advice.  Therefore there appears to be no excuse for this woman although her name has not as yet appeared in cases disciplined by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office. This would seem to be wilful refusal to act judicially or culpable neglect on her part.  No doubt the full story will out. 


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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