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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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROSECUTIONS

It would be interesting to know the statistics on the numbers of trials designated under the umbrella title of “domestic violence” which are categorised as cracked or ineffective. The reason for my curiosity is that IMHO some? many? DV charges are brought to our courts on thinner evidence than would be the case with other matters; eg assault, criminal damage, handling, etc etc. From statements by those in authority from Home Secretaries, Chief Constables to senior prosecutors and highly publicised pressure groups there is no doubt political motives are behind this prosecution policy and it is not difficult to understand why. Domestic violence is an ugly activity. Currently this descriptive term covers offences from common assault to murder although David Cameron has hinted that it might become a stand alone aggravating feature defined within legislation. Be that as it may as magistrates in the lower courts system we are sitting on the vast majority of such trials. My last such sitting had two cases; the non appearance or availability of the complainant and our refusal to adjourn caused one matter to be dismissed and the other concluded with a conviction although that could have been described as fortunate for the CPS because of certain technical defects. Looking back over my experience of the last year or so I would find it hard to conclude that more than 50%-60% of such trials actually went ahead. Is this a price worth paying or do others; lawyers or J.P.s have different opinions and experiences?

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