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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 12 December 2017
Monday, 11 December 2017
It would be interesting to know statistics of police chiefs charged with misconduct.
Friday, 8 December 2017
The latest manifestation of perhaps anti Christian bias within the justice system was demonstrated by Lincoln Magistrates on 14 September when a Christian preacher was convicted of using threatening and discriminatory language whilst preaching in that city. That verdict was overturned on appeal at the crown court.
I have posted three times in the last year or so on the topic of hate crime: 9th August 2016, 3rd April 2017 and most recently 22nd August this year. It truly requires senior judiciary to halt this apparent upping of the ante as to what constitutes "hate". Provided no incentive to violent action can be construed from actual words used, those opposed to the views and opinions of people like Geert Wilders, Franklin Graham and others whether of the Right or the Left, Christian or Muslim, gay or trans or whatever should make their arguments orally, in writing or through social media. Banning those who voice what some consider unsayable is a short slope to the unthinkable.
Thursday, 7 December 2017
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
3.49 inspectors/chief inspector
2.2 chief inspectors/superintendent
2.24 superintendents/chief superintendent
1.82 chief superintendents/ACPO rank
On 8th August 2015 I posted as follows:-
Although I am cautious when reading of a latest form of crime statistics which appears to indicate that the trend is up, down or sideways there is more than a little fascination in the structure of those in blue employed (in reducing numbers) to keep the peace. According to current figures there are:-
1.68 chief superintendents for every ACPO ranked officer
9 inspectors and chief inspectors for every superintendent
3.3 sergeants for every inspector
5.2 constables for every sergeant
Figures for 2013 were:-
4.86 constables for every sergeant
3.26 sergeants for every inspector
3.49 inspectors for every chief inspector
2.2 chief inspectors for every superintendent
2.24 superintendents for every chief superintendent
1.82 chief superintendents for every ACPO rank
I have no knowledge of the internal workings or management of large organisations but it does seem that the police are top heavy at the higher ranks of chief inspector and above. The army also seems to be similarly afflicted with around 200 brigadiers and generals for a force of around 100,000 reducing.
Perhaps this is a historical anomaly and recruitment and promotion are trapped in a time warp?
I followed those figures up on 22nd July 2016:-
Current figures are for 2015:-
3.44 inspectors/chief inspector
2.02 chief inspectors/superintendent
2.43 superintendents/chief superintendent
1.68 chief superintendents/ACPO rank
Are there too many chiefs and too few indians? The numbers above indicate a constable:ACPO rank of 493.78. Perhaps somebody more knowledgeable than I can comment on the significance of these numbers?
Latest figures and ratios are:-
3.43 inspectors/chief inspector
1.80 chief inspectors/superintendent
2.76 superintendents/chief superintendent
1.55 chief superintendents/chief officer
The current ration of constables to police chiefs is now 458.56/1. I have no idea of the optimum staffing ratios for an organisation like the police. But I do know that with various constabularies rationing their investigative procedures public interest in these numbers is bound to become more critical.
Friday, 1 December 2017
I doubt there will not be similar controversy for decades to come.
Thursday, 30 November 2017
I`ve posted here more than a few times on problems with juries. Two such posts were 14th April 2015 and 13th February 2017. L.J. Singh is following very very slowly in well made footsteps as is the snail paced progression on the legal topic so common when a government and senior judiciary are walking on eggshells. He suggests eg that jurors should be presented with written information on presenting themselves for the forthcoming trial; my my, what a superb suggestion........no, more than that; what a brilliant suggestion that could only come from one so steeped in the law as a Court of Appeal Judge. Judges are just too afraid to grasp the nettle. There never will be confirmation but I suspect that there`s more than just a minority of judges who would gladly dispense with the jury system. Perhaps their silence is one of intent. Allow more cases to be seen to be called into question by irregular actions in or out of the jury room and the case will eventually be clear to all, so they might think, that judges are in a better position to ascertain innocence or guilt than the common man formally seated on the Clapham omnibus.
In practical realistic terms should a potential juror firstly be restricted to being a British citizen? Would it not be a simple matter to send to those selected printed or digital information of what is expected and what is prohibited? Should juries in England & Wales not be reduced to the odd number of 11 and requiring eg a 7:4 majority if unanimity cannot be achieved? And what about a juror with specialist knowledge of some technical matters which might be heard in evidence. S/he would not need to consult Mr Google or Ms Wikipedia to know the truth or otherwise of these matters. Is making his/her knowledge available to fellow jurors worthy of report to the judge, contempt of court and a re-trial? I recall a case where my own expert professional knowledge was in direct contradiction of a witness`s evidence. I did not withhold that information from my two colleagues and I do not consider that my action was against my oath.
There are of course many aspects of jury selection that can be criticised. If my previous posts as above have been perused any more comment now is superfluous. But one thing I`m sure of: the jury system as currently prevailing is on borrowed time. How and when it will be reformed or abolished is a matter for a TimeLord not a retired magistrate but it will come; of that I`m sure.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
The abhorrent practice of female genital mutilation has been against the law in this country for over thirty years but the history of its prosecution or rather non prosecution is abysmal: a single case prosecuted and the defendant was acquitted. It has brought the law into disrepute. It has been treated with disdain. It is illegal to smoke in a car when there are child passengers. Being drunk in a pub is surprisingly illegal. These two activities are and were driven by public opinion. In the former to emphasise the dangers of so called passive smoking where there is some debate as to cause and effect and in the latter to satisfy Victorian morality activists of the evils of working class drunkenness. For different reasons prosecutions are virtually non existent. The Hunting Act 2004 was enacted by Labour under Tony Blair to appease his left wing. It was therefore a demonstration of power and intent rather than legislation to improve the well being of society. It was for the very mirror in reasoning that persuaded Theresa May to put in its election manifesto earlier this year that if the Tories won a majority she would allow a free vote to overturn that act. 61.8% of all organised hunters charged with Hunting Act offences have escaped conviction.86 of the 165 Hunting Act charges made were dropped either before or at trial [52%]. 40 of these related to the big Heythrop trial. Complete statistics can be accessed here.
There are other such laws that might be regarded similarly. So to answer the question at the beginning of this post my response is that if legislation is enacted the will and the means to prosecute it must be available for all the law enforcement bodies associated. Failing to do so is a luxury we cannot afford. It is tantamount to rule of the mob where the mob is the lobby group or groups with most to gain for their own sometimes nefarious purposes.
Monday, 27 November 2017
Friday, 24 November 2017
On the bench I presided over few occasions when a case involving firearms came to court and we retained jurisdiction. About 15 years ago one such involved a fake firearm being waved in the face of an innocent bystander. Despite all the pleas from the defendant`s representative our legal advisor sustained our position that immediate custody in such a situation was the only appropriate disposal. On Monday of this week the judge at Lincoln Crown Court considered suspending custody to be appropriate for a similar offence. I consider that HH failed in his duty of public protection. IMHO this is typical of the nonsense within our courts to follow government whispers to keep offenders out of jail.
That same day in the same court before the same judge HH Simon Hirst once again suspended a custodial sentence for an offender who admitted dangerous driving by ramming two police cars and driving with excess alcohol. How can we have confidence in a system where such criminality is seen to be acceptable insofar as immediate custody seems to be not just a last resort but virtually off the table for incidents where nobody is actually physically harmed? Indeed the Howard Leaguers and their ilk in our midst would indeed retain custody only for violent criminality. The bestiality in mankind will not be removed by such sentimentalist sentencing. How long must we go along this path?
Thursday, 23 November 2017
Our concept of justice underpins our whole way of life. The Babylonians lent on by Moses a thousand years later pointed the way. Alfred the Great had his input. Magna Carta is rightly regarded as another milestone in the journey from the savagery of the jungle to the rights of man. The installation of Justices of the Peace nationwide 650 years ago and the right of indicted individuals to have a trial by jury were and are steps in the process to where we are today when a level playing field of the law court is witness to argument based upon an equality of arms before a blindfolded lady justice. Or so it was but no longer. The withdrawal of legal aid for all but the poorest has laid bare the myth of equality of arms. A Crown Prosecution Service cheerleading increasing guilty verdicts irrespective of the state`s upending its end of the playing field to achieve those verdicts makes one consider whether it would hope that ever more success would be measured by 80% guilty verdicts or 90% or perhaps 99% as in China. Increasing court charges to make "offenders pay"; a policy by the toadying ignoramus Chris Grayling who also banned books from prisoners was rightfully rescinded by his successor. Sacking thousands of prison warders and then looking aghast as prisons became places of fear for many inmates seemed to bemuse those in political authority although it provided the gloating MOJ press office with substance when announcements were made that recruitment of prison officers was going ahead successfully although numbers are well below those previously in place and required for prisons at 99% capacity. A similar scenario can be sketched out about police, probation, forensic science and security forces allied to law and order.
A country cannot put justice on a financial diet; indeed one likely to be an anorexic diet without damaging this pillar of our society to all our social detriments. Yet that is precisely what is happening. Only mass disobedience by the senior judiciary to their constitutional concept of being seen but not heard has a chance of altering this situation and sadly I don`t think their bewigged honours have the cajones for that.