Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Thursday, 29 September 2016

SENTENCING BY FOOTBALL RESULTS

Once again those running football are in the news because of their greed rather than their ability.  Magistrates` benches, unlike football managers,  are ideally constituted for diversity in all its forms; by sex, ethnic origin, by age so that their decisions might be as representative as possible in our diverse legal areas.    At my appointment potential Justices of the Peace had to declare their membership or not of a masonic lodge and their political preferences but that no longer applies. In one sector they are not selected by this variety all sorts approach to justice. They are not mandated to declare their allegiance to a sports team; rugby or football; cricket or hockey.   So in theory in a tight city like Liverpool or Manchester where if there is allegiance for J.P. footie fans  it is between two football  teams and it is not inconceivable that all three members of a bench could support the same team.  Now what happens if that team loses on a Monday night especially to its local opposition and three supporters are on the bench the following morning?  Now, dear reader, you`re wondering if I`m slightly off my head as well as off topic.  Researchers at Louisiana State University in the USA have asserted that juvenile offenders, particularly black offenders, were handed harsher sentences when the university`s football team lost especially when that loss was unexpected.

I wonder if too clever by half criminal lawyers will line  up this possibility of sporting despair when advising convicted clients of their chances on appealing sentence especially if sentence was by single District Judge..

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

BARLINNE PRISON CALLING YOU TUBE

I have opined in the past that the Prison Officers Association is one of the last bastions of union power in the public service sector.  In addition to what is gleaned in the public arena my own experiences whilst an active J.P. did nothing to dissuade me of this opinion; indeed they confirmed it.  Therefore it was with little surprise but some dismay that I read of a newly incarcerated racist murderer in Glasgow`s Barlinnie Prison  being able to propagate his hateful agenda on You Tube only a few weeks after entering Scotland`s biggest jail. 4.4% of the Scottish prison population consider themselves to be Muslim; a smaller proportion than in England.  It is therefore not unreasonable to consider the possibility (probability?) that inside help was a factor in  Tanveer Ahmed`s ability to obtain a mobile phone in order to spread his vile beliefs.  

Monday, 26 September 2016

THE NON TRIAL OF JOHN O` NEILL

Since January this year the  tale of the man who was required to give police 24 hours notice prior to engaging in sexual activity has provided this blogger and many others with a story simultaneously of mirth and profound dismay.  The apparent conclusion to this tale of which Kafka might have been hesitant to tell took place at York Magistrates` Court where District Judge Adrian Lower imposed twelve conditions on John O` Neill, a man acquitted of rape, and who has apparently no convictions for sexual violence.  These conditions relate to Mr O`Neill`s sexual intentions.

The legal system, quite correctly, has provision to charge and if necessary take to trial those suspected of planning to commit disorder or worse.  But this man is legally innocent of any such intent. By any standards it is a blot on the face of English justice that he has been made subject to such restraints in the same week that it was revealed that a Detective Superintendant was effectively sacked for allowing a murderer to incriminate himself willingly and without any coercion apart from the pleasure of smoking a cigarette whilst so doing.  

The activities of police with regard to what is known all too widely  as domestic violence and victim orientated investigations are becoming increasingly arbritary in their acting as judge,  jury and executioner where the ancient concept of innocent until proved guilty has become an anachronism.

Friday, 23 September 2016

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

As far as I am aware no figures are published of the numbers of magistrates who resign their posts.  Anectdotally it has been estimated by some that since 2012 up to 10% have resigned owing to government policy of court closures.  This latest report of resignations  in Wakefield adds to the litany. 

Further to my post of 13th September it seems that the world has really gone crazy.  As if one Chief Constable`s lunatic suggestion isn`t enough the Police and Crime Commissioner in Leicestershire is considering jumping on to the equality and diversity bandwagon.  Soon it will truly be Sharia law enforcement.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

SENTENCING GAP BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE

My criticism of police and their more than occasional thin skins does not allow failure of a bench of magistrates to offer them public protection to go unnoticed.  The offender in this case has such a history of violent behaviour towards them that the words of the bench chairman do not stand up to scrutiny however truncated the report....in my humble opinion of course.   She was at the earlier stage of a community sentence and had had a previous opportunity to solve her alcohol problem.  

This seems to be a perfect example of offering a woman a sentencing option which would not be offered to a male offender.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

POLICE WANT SECRECY ON MISCONDUCT

Giving some thought to today`s post it occurred to me that quite a high proportion of my posts have been devoted to criticism of police.  A few years ago that criticism was generally directed against the policies of constabularies or the unusual procedures undertaken by them.  But more recent postings have been more concerned with the antics of senior police officers and the ineptitude or worse that has passed for activities more befitting those cops from Keystone were they not much more serious. The most recent such comments were posted here on August 19th.

The Chief Officers` Council; formally ACPO, in its collective wisdom has tried to persuade its overseers that cases of alleged misconduct against its members be kept secret. What arrogance!  From Watergate to Whitehall it has been demonstrated that the cover up when revealed (as it usually is eventually) has greater ramifications that the misdeed itself.  Those whom we pay and entrust to lead the enforcement of the law should  be the most open of all to scrutiny when that trust appears, rightly or wrongly, to have been misplaced.

Monday, 19 September 2016

THE VIRTUAL WORLD OF POLICING

I have no idea of how many "press" officers are employed by the nation`s police forces but I reckon they all work overtime.  I can`t think of any other public service except perhaps the MOJ where journalistic spin seems to be as much part of its daily environment as the reality of its activities. Two sets of announcements recently have emphasised this variance.  On August 16th a little read publication  "Insurance Times" had a report on the wonderful initiative of City of London Police  to combat cyber crime.  Oh how fortunate we are to have such  stout fellows working behind the scenes to protect are wallets and purses.  But and it`s a big "but" today it has been revealed that 4.5 million debit and/or credit cards have been cancelled owing to fraud by those very same cyber criminals being sought by City of London Police.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to take seriously any statements from any senior police officers in any police force in the country. West Midlands is a classic example.  Last week they announced the establishment of bike patrols to target drivers who overtake cyclists without leaving the minimum  required distance between their vehicle and the bike rider.  Injury to cyclists is indeed concerning but so is assault, careless and dangerous driving, theft, robbery and myriad offences against the person.  

Truly in this regard the real target of police  is in their virtual world  where image supersedes  reality.       

Thursday, 15 September 2016

DISQUALIFY MOBILE PHONE DRIVERS

Just over three years ago I posted that increased fines for using a mobile phone whilst driving would be ineffective in controlling this dangerous occupation.  Increasing the number of penalty points was I opined the only sensible deterrent. The problem is getting worse. In its latest report the RAC Foundation states that in road accidents in Great Britain 240 people were killed where one driver was over the drink/drive limit. In the RAC Report on Motoring published today it is stated that "a significant minority of motorists (31%) admit to having used a handheld phone to make or receive calls while driving at some point in the past 12 months".  Government figures indicate that between 2012 and 2014  67 people were killed on our roads because a driver was using a mobile phone. The penalties for alcohol related driving offences are well known; disqualification on first offence for twelve months. Through that deterrence and social changes drink driving and its terrible consequences has been reduced. By comparison the level of fines imposed has had little influence.  

Today it is announced that on the spot fines for the offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving will rise from the current £100 to £150 and penalty points for car and van drivers will increase from three to four.    With the numbers of police patrols both on foot and in car much reduced in our cities it is unlikely that more offenders will be stopped in what is the first step towards punishment.  

The only way to curb this menace is to disqualify from driving for  three months for first offence .
A11) Final estimates for 2014 show that 240 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit. - See more at: http://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/safety#sthash.v4z2tllE.dpuf
A11) Final estimates for 2014 show that 240 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit. - See more at: http://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/safety#sthash.v4z2tllE.dpuf
A11) Final estimates for 2014 show that 240 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit. - See more at: http://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/safety#sthash.v4z2tllE.dpuf

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

IN THE NAME OF EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

There is no other way of saying this: sometimes I think this country and some of its authorities and power sources have gone arse over tit in their quest for so called "equality".  Perhaps it is the Left`s inability to get over Britain`s activity in the slave trade notwithstanding that Britain was also the first country to abolish that sordid activity which is still operational in parts of the globe. Perhaps the less than benign practices employed for the centuries when Britain ruled an empire still feature on the conscience of those who revile the western concept of democracy built upon Judeo Christian foundations.   Perhaps there are those who began reading Animal Farm but put it down before the story ended and still fail to see where the animals were led by so called "equality".  Whatever the motivation I was astonished to read of a so called Chief Constable who has advocated the possibility in the name of diversity of allowing his female Muslim officers to wear the burka.   This is "equal rights" gone stark staring mad.  Apart from the underlying philosophy of those who choose  to demonstrate their beliefs in such apparel, such beliefs not necessarily compatible with the law of the land they are employed to apply, in practical terms it would be ridiculous.   

I find it disturbing that such thinking processes led to this police chief`s absurd posturing.  

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

J.P. EN VACANCES

I`m off to La Belle France demain.  Hope to be back here in a week.