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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Monday, 23 February 2015

A JUSTICE SYSTEM RAVISHED



The prosecution of those suspected of violence against their intimate partners has changed radically in the last two decades.  “Domestics” where no serious injury occurred often resulted in a warning to the perpetuator to behave better.  Now the pendulum has well and truly swung the other way.  There has been  cross party political pressure to charge and convict those responsible for such crimes.  Indeed the definition of “domestic” has widened.  I have sat on a case where the defendant was the distant brother in law of the complainant.  Hardly intimate partners but the whole weight of the protocols in place to prosecute DV cases was employed.  In the event the accused was found not guilty of common assault.  I mention this owing to a recent series of DV matters before my colleagues and me having   resulted in “case dismissed”.  The reasons were complainants failing to appear despite the protocol of there having been a witness summons issued; withdrawal statements having been made which of course undermined the CPS case; complainants attending but refusing to give evidence and those whose evidence consisted of “Can`t remember”.  There is always an underlying suspicion that despite the probable bail condition imposed upon the defendant of “no contact” pressure in some form or another has been brought to bear upon the complainant.  But and it`s a big “but” I believe that prosecutors are being pressured to pursue such cases with a portfolio of evidence that is less convincing than would be expected in non DV matters of a similar gravity.  This is based upon this government`s ceaseless quest to, “put victims and witnesses at the centre of our reforms”, quoting Chris Grayling.  Indeed today another breathless press release from his minions at Petty France announces further efforts which appear to convert our common law to that based upon Sharia.  It won`t be long before every offence has a price that an alleged offender can pay a complainant in order to forestall court action.  With many more defendants on average earnings  being made to represent themselves owing to their being denied legal aid  and  victims and witnesses to be given more support with double the number of “courtroom experts” soon to be available to help them give evidence, one wonders what more will be done to raise the conviction rate to a Chinese 99%. 



Where is the learned opposition to this galloping trend?  Where is the Magistrates Association`s opposition.  Does the Bar demonstrate only when legal aid fees are cut?  Do the higher judiciary await retirement before expressing opinion?  I have previously commented on the outspokenness of such people including the military and  police on defence and crime respectively only when their pensions hit their bank accounts.  The result is plain to see with the predicted budget for defence likely to fall below 2% and senior generals being bullied into silence on criticism of the country`s ability to be defended.



I vote in a marginal constituency currently held by the Tories where UKIP is breathing down the neck of the incumbent.  I am a capitalist by experience and conviction but it might stick in my craw to put my cross for the party which has allowed our justice system from arrest to prison  to be ravished as it has been over the last five years.   

1 comment:

  1. Hearing Senior Police Officers begging "victims" of sexual abuse to come forward, saying "You will be believed", is another symptom of this trend.

    ReplyDelete