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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Monday, 13 August 2018
Today it has published its latest findings...........copied below.
The very wording, "remarks........which suggested that she holds prejudices..........." is enough to consider that this accusation was perhaps on less than solid ground. The fact of the accused`s resignation does not detract from that. The mental stress of such proceedings would be more than enough to break the resolve of even the strongest personality. The expense of defending such a charge is enormous. Magistrates have no group defence body. Of course we know nothing of the actual case except the result. This is not justice. It could very easily be a modern witch hunt.
Friday, 10 August 2018
David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, wants “vulnerable” offenders to be given community orders requiring them to undertake treatment instead of going to jail.
But the scheme, being piloted in several regions, risks a backlash from victim groups amid fears that criminals could play the system to avoid prison.
Under the initiative, psychologists present in court assess offenders who could be eligible for a community order. Local panels of justice and health officials will provide information to magistrates and judges so they can determine the appropriate outcome.
The Ministry of Justice said the measures have already resulted in more Community Sentence Treatment Requirements (CSTRs) being issued. Government research has found less re-offending among those who undergo treatment. In a speech today Mr Gauke will say: “We are all clear that we need to do more to support vulnerable offenders in the community… We need to do more to raise awareness and increase confidence in treatment requirements and I look forward to exploring how these sites progress.” Since the pilot sites went live in Birmingham, Plymouth, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Sefton on Merseyside, initial figures suggest that more than 400 CSTRs have been issued.
District Judge Richard Clancy, lead judge at the Complex Case Court in Merseyside, which is part of the Sefton pilot scheme, said: “To have a trial scheme where the court has on-site psychologists capable of testing suitability of a defendant for a mental health treatment requirement, so that such a community order can be made by the judge on the same day without need for adjournment, is a remarkable and innovative move which I fully support.”
Community sentences can include offenders being required to carry out unpaid work as well as attending centres for their addictions or health issues.
The above is copied from The Telegraph. Over the last two decades governments of both colours have been responsible for closing dozens of mental hospitals and refuges. Indeed the building closest to my house about three miles away founded in 1851 as an asylum and later was a NHS psychiatric hospital was closed in 1993 as were so many others similar. It is now a very desirable address where Premier League players are known to have flats. Judges and magistrates have been aware for many years that the provision for the 70% of offenders who have addiction problems; drugs and/or alcohol is very thin on the ground. The numbers of professionals available to treat such offenders is nowhere near enough to offer a prompt effective route to abstinence. The only sensible way forward is to remove the court journey to that of a medical pathway for such offenders. That means that drug taking [not dealing] must be de-criminalised. Secure facilities must be constructed where appropriate offenders are forcibly incarcerated. In previous posts I have termed these places as "workhouses for the 21st century" where they are released when it is considered they are clean and no longer a threat to a peaceful society. Some may comment that this is draconian. I don`t disagree but where we are now and where this Justice Secretary wants to go are just not possible even with all the press releases and their blah blah blah.
Tuesday, 7 August 2018
This complete incongruity between police and courts is more of a tragedy than a farce. But it certainly does the profile of what constitutes good governance no favours.
Monday, 6 August 2018
He told him: “We don’t normally get customers as cooperative as you, so thank you for being cooperative.
“All I can say is when you’re in custody please try and get the help that you’re asking for.”
The above is copied from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner. The sentiments of the bench chairman are exactly in line with my thoughts formed many years ago on drug addiction. I have commented similarly many times here but rarely has the current situation been more clearly expressed and reported within a magistrates court. Only by the combined efforts of a courageous Home Secretary, a Justice Secretary who actually has balls and a Health Secretary with no leadership ambitions defying his civil servants and perhaps his boss will anything like the correction action be taken. Needless to tell, the current destructive process for addicts going through the justice system will continue indefinitely.
Friday, 3 August 2018
More than a decade ago national sentencing guidelines were introduced to avoid or minimise sentencing by postcode. This innovation in hindsight can be marked as the beginning of the end of what had euphemistically been termed "local justice". We have come a long way since then. Magistrates are now accorded the privilege? of being qualified to sit in any local justice area in England and Wales when previously they were limited to their "home" court. Whether one agrees or not this is the situation.
A lawyer addressing magistrates in Boston Magistrates Court pleaded for his drink driving client to have a reduced ban cf similar miscreant in London who could avail himself of the myriad transport choices in that city cf rural Lincolnshire. I must admit that that is the first time I have heard of mitigation along these lines. Imagine if courts could act retrospectively if the mood chose them. There could be special reasons based on the supposed historic inbreeding in East Anglia, they could designate fines in bushels utilising the high number of those employed in farming, two thirds in the county voted to Leave EU so learning French could be a part of community service.
I suppose the lawyer in question was just trying to do best by his client. I wonder what his approach would have been faced with mitigating a Lincolnshire poacher?
Monday, 30 July 2018
Last week a serving magistrate in Wales had what appears to be self serving portrait of himself and his recreational interests published in Barry and District News.
Perhaps somebody can explain why this person should not be appearing before the JCIO?
Friday, 27 July 2018
Thursday, 26 July 2018
Wednesday, 25 July 2018
Monday, 23 July 2018
Friday, 20 July 2018
We are a laughing stock at so many levels in society. Authority in many departments from MPs waiving pairing rules in a critical vote then denying it was deliberate to the Director of Public Prosecutions failing in her duties that JUSTICE must be done to ALL and yet allowed to continue in office until her contract ends instead of being relieved of her duties adds yet another notch to those who think there is an easy answer to this country`s problems. This is how democracy breaks down; not by smashing windows and marching through the streets but by those in power failing to keep the standards which society demands or should demand to retain respect of the governed.
Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Convicted sex offenders must re register with police annually and give notice of address change within three days. This offender failed to do so and was summonsed to appear at Kirklees Magistrates Court. He turned up drunk and was refused admission to the building. As a result he was bailed to appear to appear at a subsequent time. Much valued court time was wasted, the case is still unanswered and the registration etc has still not been completed. Surely it would have been sensible to admit him with security escort, place him in the cells for contempt of court if he had not sobered up for the bench and keep him either in the cells or at a police station for appearance the following day. Perhaps my cynicism of current practice is showing........it`s only three years since I retired.........but truly there has been something lost in the justice system if a drunk sex offender can be allowed to continue to go on his way in these circumstances?
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
On March 3rd 2018 The Times published the following:-
Reforms to the justice system, including court closures and a move to virtual hearings, will have a damaging impact on access to justice, MPs have warned. In a letter to Lucy Frazer, the junior justice minister, they say the elderly, mothers of young children and those without internet access will be disadvantaged by Ministry of Justice plans. The justice select committee says that proposals flout the principle that 90 per cent of people should be able to reach courts by public transport in one hour. The plans have no “convincing policy justification” and “appear to favour value for money over the principle of access to justice”. They also criticise the “increasing reliance on virtual and online justice”, pursued in the absence of evaluation of pilot projects. A ministry spokesman said: “This government is investing over £1 billion to reform and modernise the justice system, making it more convenient and providing better value for the taxpayer.”
In 2015 the House of Common Justice Select Committee published its findings after questioning many witnesses when investigating the magistracy including those which related to travel times to courts The situation today has worsened. Even in 2016 the MOJ denied it had set maximum travel times to court on public transport. But the truth will out. The situation in Cambridge this year has become a topic of further debate about the terminological inexatitude of the weasels in Petty France. Similar noises of the real state of affairs in rural areas with court closures can be heard in Suffolk.
Like so much else emanating from this government there has come about a total non belief in the veracity of senior ministers when describing policy and its ramifications, the statements from the very pinnacle of power re Brexit being just the most obvious but the odious tendency to lie when a cover up is failing will have the most serious consequences for a population beguiled into believing that simplistic populist measures are in its best interests. That way lies anarchy and that is the way we seem to be heading.