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, 6 October 2016


Today with much trumpeting the Sentencing Council published new guidelines on knife crime. Considering the Tory Party conference has just finished I wonder if this is a coincidence.  Ever since my particular interest in criminal law began about twenty years ago each and every government has declared its intention of increased sanctions against those using or brandishing a knife or bladed article; eg on 21/09/2008 Jack Straw then Minister for Justice in his speech at the Labour Party Conference said; " Yesterday we saw the determination of those affected by knife crime as they marched through London. We stand firm with all those who know too well the devastating impact these crimes have and as Jacqui will be spelling out  later, all of us pledge that we will relentlessly keep up our efforts to tackle it."  Every minister responsible for policy on criminal activity since then has repeated a similar mantra.  A limited microcosm of attitudes to knife crime was my topic 3rd July 2015. To return to the reality of daily life in our courts the sentencing structure at Bolton Youth Court earlier this week might raise an eyebrow or two in the light of the above.  The report is as full as one can hope for in the local press but the underlying principle is clearly understood: that the mitigation of the offender`s  dreadful previous experiences and possible rehabilitation was considered to be more important than public protection that would have been offered by his immediate confinement.  Truly the bench will have it on its collective conscience should he cause injury or worse to anyone in future.

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