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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Friday, 30 September 2016

TIME LIMITS TO POLICE BAIL

Magistrates are used to dealing with bail cases; to a point.  Applicants have been charged and a bench applies guidelines and rules to assess whether in fact remand in custody is necessary or indeed permitted for said offence and/or offender.  Police sergeants at the station have a different problem pre charge.  With a large number of high profile persons having been investigated for child abuse offences in the last few years and many subsequently at liberty on police bail for over a year without being charged the subject has finally hit the headlines with government proposing to place a time limit of 28 days in all such bail cases except in specific cases.  In addition a magistrate would be required to authorise any application to extend bail beyond three months.  Police chiefs have swiftly condemned these proposals.  

I can well understand the police position.  Their numbers have dropped dramatically in the last six years from 143,734 to 124,066.  Although perhaps some statistics tell us crime has fallen and others that it hasn`t IMHO reduced numbers of police officers mean that all the work that they do has to be rationed or performed over a longer period.  And that includes investigation into criminal activity when the person arrested has yet to be charged. F.O.I.  figures for the Met Police in 2014 show 4630 people were on bail for over six months.

Governments always seek scapegoats when publicly funded organisations or those contracted out have their budgets cut dramatically, way beyond expectations of increasing efficiency, and subsequently fail to perform to expected standards. The NHS, UK Border Agency as was, the Probation Service, the Prison Service are but a few examples.  The police are no exception.  Considering the prime minister`s previous office this meeting of contrary opinions is going to cause not a little dust to fly. 

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