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, 10 April 2014
BEWITCH AND BETWEEN
Yesterday I described what is IMHO an anomaly in the manner in which reminders to comply with the requirements of a s.172 notice are handled. On an extremely unusual day owing to the usual mix of incompetents, incompetence and omissions we sat also on a breach matter. The offender had had an extremely traumatic upbringing in a war torn African country and had arrived here as a teenage asylum seeker. He was now in his mid twenties with an offending history of public order and drug convictions. He was before us for having breached his mental health treatment requirement. The probation officer sought to persuade us that we should fine him rather than make his sentence more onerous or revoke and re-sentence. His representative explained that although his English was of a high standard he could not engage with him with any depth. The purpose of breach proceedings is to punish those who do not take advantage of the disposals which have been offered in attempts to both punish and rehabilitate. In this respect we encountered another anomaly in a system which is full of them although it takes a “perfect storm” for their existence to become apparent in the fog of legal jargon. We decided to “punish” him by increasing his MHTR from the current three months to six.
Discussing the case afterwards in an empty courtroom all of us present were firmly of the opinion that a generation ago Mr X would probably have been offered a bed in a place of safety staffed by full time medical personnel qualified in the care of those with severe mental disturbance. “Care in the Community” which so often oversees the patient falling into the pit between the cracks in a failed system is long past its sell by date but with the increasing financial problems besetting the NHS it is unlikely that finance will ever again be made available for the long term in patient psychiatric care urgently required by so many. In a similar fashion it is virtually a no brainer that the current cash starved justice system will ever return to the position it held in the minds of a previous generation of politicians; unlike politicians of the ilk of Maria Miller, recently resigned Minister of Culture, who is quoted in today`s Times2 as stating when she made a case for arts subsidy that it was suitable for “venture capital” based solely on the “economic benefits” it would produce.To quote that Irish genious, “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing".
This is the kind of mind rot engulfing so many of our political masters (and mistresses) which allows the populist rhetoric of a certain N. Farage to so bewitch a nation.