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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


I can recall late last year my colleagues and I had to sentence an offender who was clearly in the category “so serious that custody is the only option”. This chap was where he was for multiple non violent offending. One colleague found it difficult to agree in principle to this disposal because his offending was indeed non violent nor involved any basic dishonesty. Eventually with our third member`s assistance she was brought round to the logical conclusion we had each reached. This attitude to non violent offending is not confined to J.P.s. So called white collar crime attracts more than its fair share of apologists for non custodial sentencing in this country as opposed to America where financial fraud is generally dealt with more severely than here.Over the last decade it has not been uncommon to read that a financier, banker, accountant or similar has been sentenced to many years in prison in the U.S.A.for criminal offences involving $millions of other people`s money i.e. white collar crime. Such criminals in this country actually come to court in this country much less frequently never mind being sentenced to custody.  It seems the same thinking is behind the complaints that all the resources that have been devoted to phone hacking etc are disproportionate and should be concentrated on anti social and violent criminality.  Leveson did indeed release a hysteria virus upon which it could be argued more effort was placed on eradication than a deeper understanding of the requirement for a free press.  

The imprisonment of men of eighty years or more for criminal actions which took place perhaps half their lifetime ago cannot possibly be in the public interest.  It serves only as the whipping post did in medieval times. What is in the public interest is that the Prime Minister should encourage  CPS and associated authorities to apply the law here to the activities of bankers and banks in this country who have been indicted/convicted in America for such crimes as fixing interest rates, laundering drug money and much else and seem to have  escaped  so far from the grasp of such organisations. He must decide soon enough if the Tory Party really has turned away from Theresa May`s description as the nasty party. With the government`s shares in the rescued banks being considered for sale failure to do so with his admittedly slender majority might forfeit the right of his successor a similar opportunity. 

1 comment:

  1. The 'value of a life' in the UK is ~£2m. That is, if something costs £2m to build, and it'll save a life before it needs replacement, it's a worthwhile investment. This statistic underpins much of our safety infrastructure.

    If a person abstracts £2m from the public purse, they have done as much damage as one death. indeed, it's likely they have (albeit indirectly) caused a death. OK - not all thefts take money from the Ambulance Service or the NHS, but the money comes from somewhere ... and £2m abstracted is going to do damage, no matter where it comes from.

    So: Yes - 'non violent crime' is serious and should be punished heavily. Custodial sentences for the taking of sums in/ above the hundreds of thousands should be common.