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, 13 August 2015

NAMING AND SHAMING

To name and shame was in my memory a major factor in ensuring tolerable standards of behaviour within the family and wider circle but also when malfeasance and/or  outrageous  impropriety involved those in public office.  That naming and shaming could range in its reach from the family to headlines in local or national media.  When adults enter a British courtroom, unknowingly or uncaring to many,  they enter an environment and institution which is open to any member of the public.  This apparently simple and commonplace facility could arguably be described as one of the essential  pillars supporting our free society.  However for many generations it has been accepted that inter alia children and young people must have protection against the promulgation of their identities during proceedings where they are involved as witnesses or defendants. All those involved in the workings of criminal courts are thus familiar with s39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (“CYPA”) and its current incarnation Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 s.45.  Full details can be found on p15 of Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts.  

The current case making the news without there being public knowledge of the name of the teenager  convicted of stabbing his teacher in Bradford has caused a certain disquiet amongst newspaper editors and others. The likelihood of his serving only three years custody from a headline sentence of eleven years has added to the controversy.  Whilst that sentence (and others in similar circumstances where youth are involved) can IMHO be argued on the basis of the as yet still undeveloped juvenile brain where the biological connections which socialise us as a species are still some years from completion the prohibition on naming and shaming by the judge cannot be justified.  I will not fully rehearse the arguments here; they are, I am sure, well known to readers.The judicial decision seems to imply that naming and shaming at least in this case is no longer applicable or desirable.  I for one disagree.    I would go so far to suggest that the lack of such sanctions in general has led us into a situation where anything goes and shame means absolutely nothing especially to those  in public office. The investigations into Police and Crime Commissioners is an indication of the almost Banana Republic attitude of publicly elected or appointed officials.  Indeed a couple of years ago at this blog`s previous site I gave vent to similar feelings.  When ASBOs were introduced  it was  thought that the shame of the public disapproval bestowed would assist in attempts at rehabilitation. By all accounts that desire was misconceived. Approbation a plenty was often the result from the reprobates` peers.  The College of Policing has recently published an interesting report on Chief Police Officer misconduct. It does not mention by name any officer whose frailties or misconduct are already in the public domain and whose histories are likely to have been utilised in the study.  Depending on how one reads that omission naming and shaming might still be operating even if beneath the surface but then again.....................






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