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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Monday, 21 November 2016


I have never been a supporter of the Howard League. Indeed whist its policy of the abolition of all custodial sentences of less than six months is in force (and it is a virtual certainty it will not change)   I doubt many J.P.s are cheer leaders for it either. Having made that point it was disquieting to read of an incident recently where the League was helpful in the case of a juvenile living in a children`s home who was detained overnight by police  on a magistrate`s warrant for the non payment of a fine. Although I personally never signed up to be such an individual, colleagues who had volunteered to be available out of court hours for such applications were clearly instructed to contact an on duty legal advisor when police arrived with such a request.  

To the general reader this is another stick in the armoury of the Howard League with which to beat magistrates. Truly it is the Justices Clerk Society`s responsibility. This begs the question as to what is exactly this so called "society".  It has no web site. It sits under an umbrella site The Public Affairs Company where it is described as "The Professional Society for lawyers who advise magistrates".  There appears to be no public record of its activities. There is no doubt this appears to be a shadowy some might say  a shady quasi committee of around twenty five senior civil servants with enormous but poorly regulated  power.  And as with similar such groupings it makes sure when the fan is struck by fecal matter its name and purpose remain unsullied.

1 comment:

  1. Re the issuing of the warrant, it is highly likely this would have been done administratively in a batch of many dozens of warrants issued under the powers of a justices’ clerk without any magistrate being involved. Certainly there would have been no out of hours application.

    Plainly the warrant should not have been issued and one trusts the court will now be looking to correct whatever it is that went wrong. However, surely the main blame here rests with the police who should have had the nous to see the error, to not act upon the warrant and to inform the court.

    As to the JCS, it has no connection with the Public Affairs Company. The reference on the latter’s website to the JCS appears to be historical, dating back to the days before 2005 when JCS actually was an independent organisation and presumably commissioned the PAC to do some lobbying work. Nowadays JCS is, as you say, no more than a group of civil servants within HMCTS.