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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 3 December 2013


Chris Grayling and his cohort at Petty France just don`t stop with their press releases.  If the efficient manner in which they are propagated were typical of the efficient thinking of those behind their publication there would be cause for a modicum of cheer.  However even in this season of goodwill I find little about the latest offering that is anything more than a lot of hot air.

His main innovation is to add the “punishment” element he considers missing from a third of community sentences.  These consist of fine, unpaid work, curfew or exclusion from certain areas.  The Ministry of Justice website has the following to say about fines:-

“Fines are the most common sentence passed at court, accounting for around two-thirds of all sentences handed out by the criminal courts (66.5 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2012). The fine rate is consistent with that seen in the same period for the previous year, and has declined from a peak of 70.3 per cent in the 12 months ending September 2004. The decline has been due to a decline in prosecutions and subsequent conviction for summary motoring offences - the offence type for which fines are most commonly given. The latest figure of 816,600 fines represents a decrease of 5. 2 per cent compared to the 12 months ending September 2011, and the lowest number of fines handed out over the last 11 years.”

To quote from this blog on 21/11/2013:-

What an example of the spin doctor`s art of obfuscation by omission. The total amount of unpaid fines is estimated at £2 billion and rising. In addition over £130 million  annually is written off because the state cannot find or squeeze the cash from offenders. Perhaps the Secretary of State instead of pursuing his rehabilitation of offenders by results policy with the decimation of the probation service as a by product or playing hardball with G4S and SERCO he would be more profitably employed in root and branch investigation of the whole process of fines from imposition to collection or otherwise as the case may be.

As far as “unpaid work” which is arguably the most punishing of community requirements; with the probation service in turmoil over privatisation the resulting omnishambles of payment by results will render any increase in throughput a disaster. 

We have all read of the scandal of the outsourcing behemoths SERCO andG4S.  This blogger for one has no confidence that an increased workload can be any more efficient than currently is the case.  Exclusion Orders are a waste of time and an insult to intelligence.  All they are is a displacement order……NIMBYism  writ large and unpleasantly. 

For donkeys years various Justice Ministers have proclaimed they will be “tough on knife crime”.  It makes good headlines but bad law. This effort will be no different.

A government which is disguising the chaos in private prisons, ruining the probation service, decimating the police forces, throwing 10% of CPS lawyer on the scrap heap, admitting that its own crime statistics are almost fraudulent and generally causing despair amongst those with inside knowledge of what`s really  happening   deserves nothing but contempt for this latest attempt to paper over the cracks it has created under the cloak of austerity.


  1. Spot on. Well said!

  2. Didn't Butch say to Sundance something along the line of 'don't sugarcoat it Kid, give it to her straight'.