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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


It`s been quite some time since I`ve sat in a breach and/or sentencing court.  With all the hoo ha over the reorganisation shambles at  probation services and desperate press releases from the MOJ   I was quite unsure of the quality of PSRs we would be reading that morning.  We had three such in front of us one of which was so disjointed, illogical and grammatically inept that we had to make a statement that the writer (from a judicial area in another part of the country) be advised that its content was next to useless in its contradictory conclusions.  That didn`t go down well with one of our regular probation officers in the well of the court.   

There has been and  is IMHO a considerable amount of political lobbying surrounding the subject of domestic violence and its outcomes.  Combine that with the current fashion for victim orientated sentencing and we are beginning to resemble an embryonic Sharia law approach to the topic.  All we need is the concept of blood money to be refined for our English purposes.  We had two bail decisions on such matters and for one of them we decided to remove conditions imposed by police and to allow unconditional until next appearance.  All members of the bench were of the same mind.  Nevertheless during the post court review we were advised by our very efficient L/A that when he made his regular report that decision would be highlighted as would be our reasons for acting against what seem to be unwritten protocols.  Such decisions are probably the most difficult that a bench can make but I`m a sound sleeper and as I usually do I slept like a baby that night.


  1. Did your LA act properly? I though that bail is a matter for the court at this stage and can be revisited each time subject to the usual restrictions on eg. the number of applications defence can make, statutory provisions re bail etc. I didn't think that conditions imposed by the police tie your hands at all but of course, you must consider representations from the Crown as well as defence. If LA is quoting "unwritten protocols" that sounds as if he/she is trying to influence your decision unduly. What protocols?

    1. Indeed it is a matter for the court. There is no (proper) reason for the LA to highlight the decision of the court and it is a matter of record anyway. It would be a different matter if legal advice had been ignored but that doesn't seem to be the issue here. It does seem more a case of the LA assuming the role of judicial office holder which, of course, they are not.

    2. No – it seems the LA behaved perfectly properly. First, he did not seek to interfere with the judicial decision whilst it was being taken. Second, he was good enough to share with the bench that he was under instruction from his superiors in the executive branch of government to report whenever a bench exercises its judicial discretion in a way the executive disapproves. Nothing there for we old ‘separation of powers’ fuss-pots to worry about, is there?

  2. Were they any problems with the quality of PSR's pre 'Transforming Rehabilitation'?