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.
Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Friday, 23 February 2018
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Personal qualitiesYou need to show you’ve got the right personal qualities, for example that you are:
- aware of social issues
- mature, understand people and have a sense of fairness
- reliable and committed to serving the community
- understand documents, follow evidence and communicate effectively
- think logically, weigh up arguments and reach a fair decision
"Common"...........usual, ordinary, customary, habitual, familiar, regular, frequent, repeated, recurrent, routine, everyday, daily, day-to-day, quotidian, standard, typical
It seems, however, that the good J.P. folk of Dorset don`t know their own rules. Rachel Small , a recently appointed magistrate interviewed by the Daily Echo with regard to magistrate recruitment, is quoted as saying inter alia, "They can come from all backgrounds, but must have "common sense and personal integrity". Her full interview is available here.
From my years on the bench and nine years of seeking out various goings on at magistrates` courts for this blog the lack of common sense amongst recently appointed benches in recent years seems to be a logical conclusion for some strange or very unusual decisions.
The magistracy is far from being the only organisation where common sense is noted for its absence. I don`t know the qualities essential to being an Inspector in Surrey Constabulary but a brief reading of the case of an officer cleared of a misconduct charge of stealing colleagues` biscuits leads me to think that perhaps some training in such is called for there.
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
"We will not tolerate corrupt officers or staff and it is vital that we respond swiftly and robustly to incidences of sexual misconduct.
“After reviews by Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2012, police chiefs committed to doing more to root out abusers from the service. Since then, police leaders have emphasised that this behaviour has no place in policing, made changes to vetting and supervision processes, and encouraged reporting - the majority of force investigations into abuse of powers are started in response to concerns raised by officers and staff."
In a recent issue of Police Oracle behind a pay wall there is a front page report:-
Misconduct system 'too focused on punishment' says national lead. CC Martin Jelley. Head of professional standards for NPCC calls for 'revolution' in attitudes. Date - 15th February 2018. By - Ian Weinfass - Police Oracle. The police misconduct system must become more focused on learning and improvement and less on punishment.
Perhaps I am being pedantic but my simple understanding is that these two statements appear on the surface at least to be just a little contradictory. Of course the first is specific and the other is a generality but my opinion is that this very senior officer is wearing that black hat beloved of early directors of the Western genre of movie making.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Monday, 12 February 2018
Perhaps I have harped on rather a lot about the advantage of bringing back the workhouse updated for today`s offenders. Yet every day in every court there is a poor misbegotten soul who demonstrates that the court process is for him/her a complete waste of time and money. Here`s today`s example from the court in Durham.
Friday, 9 February 2018
Recently Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd the former Lord Chief Justice has been reported as saying, "The answer to most of these problems (referring to openness of Parole Board) is open justice." Surely a similar argument, discounting expense or politics, applies to magistrates` courts?
Thursday, 8 February 2018
These cases are from the last few months. There have been many others of a similar nature historically but they are not available in a statistical form because the Home Office keeps the numbers of senior police officer misconduct cases under wraps; so much for freedom of information. There are numbers for the plods up to rank of Inspector but no more. The College of Policing can publish a 95 page report but statistics of those of high rank involved in misconduct.......NO!
This is a matter of great public concern or should be. Already trust in the criminal justice system with regard to the courts` process for defendants is disturbing owing to actual failings within the Crown Prosecution Service and the lack of legal aid for a majority of defendants in the magistrates` courts. Police are at the coal face of that system and in an increasingly authoritarian and "safe space" society it is paramount that they are led by people of integrity. It will be the misfortune for us all if standards are not raised for those paid small fortunes to do that job. However the omens are not good. The Home Office is unfit for purpose in this and in so many other aspects of its portfolio.
Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Monday, 5 February 2018
Thursday, 1 February 2018
In the current climate of mistrust and/or failing confidence in government in general, experts in particular and our criminal justice system above all such "in house" secretive "advice" to the bewigged should be in the public domain and the longer the wig the louder the sanction.
Monday, 29 January 2018
That sentence is the headline of a press release from the MOJ. Not satisfied with putting obligations to report those suspected of connection with terrorism upon landlords, estate agents, bankers, lawyers and uncle Tom Cobley the spiders at the centre of the Petty France web are seeking to have public opinion increase sentences on those convicted of terror related offences. Not satisfied with offering the judiciary so called sentencing guidelines about which the public has quite rightly no particular interest or knowledge, this government and the Ministry of so called Justice the senior incumbents of the latter being moved in and out like players in a game of musical chairs, seem only to be interested in a week`s favourable headlines. There is absolutely no logic to this and similar actions. In the release we are informed that, "141 criminals had their sentences increased, helping victims and their families get justice. This is a small proportion of the 80,000 Crown Court cases heard each year, where in the clear majority the judiciary get it right". So because 0.18% of cases are appealed by the Attorney General a whole new avenue of legal activity is opened. If there were true philosophy in this regard it is not unlikely that there would be at the very least a substantial minority of opinion which would welcome the opportunity to reinstate the death penalty for particularly heinous murders multiple murder in the cause of terrorism being a certain candidate. Allowing public opinion to manipulate judicial decision making is no more than seeking favourable headlines from a government which has no sense of purpose and is merely looking for daily uplifts to its polling position. It began with the positioning of the "victim" to a quasi judicial role and has progressed from there. There is no doubt that the judiciary will be undermined by this development although of course all will remain silent until they are pensioned off. Let us therefore bring back pillory and the stocks and a plentiful supply of rotten tomatoes. At least that would be an honest expression of letting the public have what government thinks it wants.
I am no hanger and flogger but neither am I a soft hearted believer in abolishing short sentences or for society to turn the other cheek. But I do believe that for justice to prevail there are many actions that government should take in particular with regard to legal aid and the belief that a digital image can substitute for reality. I am however just bleating in the wind. The authoritarianism seeping into our daily lives will only be appreciated when Cobynista Marxists rule over us and Henry VIII powers are in the hands of those who would wield them for the many not the few to our eternal cost.
Thursday, 25 January 2018
Once again justice has not been seen to be done and wealth buys injustice. It is another example of a bench being brought into disrepute by those who can afford high quality advocacy to mesmerise an ineffectual bench.