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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 14 June 2018

THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE IS SEEKING A TOAD


I consider the following announcement earlier today of considerable significance so I`ve stopped packing the sun cream for a minute or two to copy it below. The toady who is appointed will no more be representative of JPs than a pig is representative of farmers.  The person selected will be an arrogant bore seeking another post to justify his/her future CBE. This is just another milestone in the road to the total elimination of JPs from our court system



Expression of Interest: National Leadership Magistrate

|News|Magistrates
We are now inviting expressions of interest for the role of National Leadership Magistrate (NLM).   This is a judicial process being administered by HMCTS.
There is one vacancy, with the successful candidate taking up their position on 1 October 2018.
The closing date for expressions of interest is 6 July 2018
Term length: The NLM will serve a three-year term.
Eligibility: Eligibility criteria and requirements for the role is set out in the attached role description.
Appointments Process
Applicants who would like to express an interest in this role should complete the expressions of interest form and return it to the email address at the top of the application. Forms received after the closing date will not be considered.
Interviews dates are subject to panel members’ availability and will be confirmed with applicants as soon as possible. It is likely however, that they will take place late July/early August.

References

A reference is required before the sift takes place and will be used to inform decisions throughout the selection process.
Your referee should be someone who is well placed to comment on how you meet the requirements set out in the job description.  They should be able to provide specific examples that demonstrate how your skills match the qualities and abilities for this role.
Your referee will be contacted very soon after receipt of applications so please provide an accurate email address.  The deadline for return of all completed reference forms is noon on 20 July.
Please ensure you provide the name, email address and contact telephone number of your referee.
Please advise your referee that the preferred method of return is via email – hard copy returns will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.
Please check with your referee that they do not have a conflict of interest in this exercise and that they are able and content to support you within the required timescale.  You should not nominate an individual who you know to be a candidate within the exercise as a referee.

Sifting

All applications will be sifted by a judicial panel, who will consider the information provided in your application form and in the reference.  A decision will be taken on whether your application should progress to interview stage.  You will receive a letter advising you on the outcome of the sift.
No feedback will be available for this stage.

Interview

If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to an interview with a judicial panel.  Details of dates and location will be sent with any invitation to attend.
The interview will consist of the panel seeking evidence from you against the qualities and abilities for the post.
You will receive a letter (via email) advising you of the outcome of your interview, should you be invited to attend. It is anticipated that you will be informed of the outcome of your interview early/mid August.
If you are unsuccessful at interview, you can request written feedback.  You should make this request to Kelly.dyke@judiciary.uk within four weeks of the date of the letter informing you that you have not been successful.  We will aim to respond to your request within 20 working days.
If you have any queries in relation to the administration of this process, please contact legal.operations@justice.gov.uk.

Role Description

The National Leadership Magistrate (NLM) will be the leadership magistrate for England and Wales and is responsible for leading the development and execution of the judiciary’s long-term strategy for magistrates.  The National Leadership Magistrate will serve a three-year term.
The NLM will liaise directly with the Senior Judiciary, HMCTS and external stakeholders.  The NLM will provide a voice for the magistracy at national level and communicate with bench chairs, magistrates and other stakeholders.

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. To lead the Magistrates’ Leadership Executive (MLE).
  2. To promote the efficient and effective operation of magistrates’ courts. Sharing best practice and assisting in the development and implementation of national and regional strategies.
  3. To communicate effectively with the judiciary, HMCTS and other key stakeholders, whilst recognising the need to respect confidentiality, as appropriate.
  4. In conjunction with the Regional Leadership Magistrates, to develop national and regional agendas.
  5. To represent the views of the magistracy at national level.
  6. To provide a positive role model for the magistracy.
  7. Provide effective leadership in a rapidly changing environment;

Person Specification

Essential

  1. Be a bench chair or have been a bench chair in the three years preceding the recruitment campaign.
  2. Be eligible to remain a serving magistrate during the full term of office.
  3. Be able to put aside necessary time for the role.
  4. Have an ability to build effective relationships with bench Chairs, other judiciary and agencies, such as HMCTS, Probation, CPS and Advisory Committees.
  5. Be a team player.
  6. Have excellent communication skills.
  7. Understand current issues affecting bench management
  8. Be comfortable with basic aspects of IT (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, eJudiciary) and interpreting magistrates’ court performance data and similar reports.
  9. Have an ability to perform under pressure and support others under pressure.

Desirable

  1. Experience of other leadership roles within the magistracy or externally.
 This role will require a very significant investment of your time and frequent travel will be necessary.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

THIS J.P.`s OUT OF THE OFFICE

Unless there is momentous news concerning magistrates and their courts this blogger will be on holiday for a couple of weeks exchanging the keyboard for the finest humous and kleftiko that Crete can provide. And no doubt a shot or three of Ouzo might come his way.

Τα λέμε σύντομα

Monday, 11 June 2018

CANADA AND DRUG USE

The decriminalisation of hard drugs has been debated here and elsewhere for decades.  My personal view is that the current so called "war on drugs" has failed and that the current legal situation has no long term future.  Various small countries and US states have legalised the use of marijuana.  It is likely that the first G7 nation, Canada, will follow suit.  An interesting article was published last week in the Guardian a newspaper whose "liberal progressive" opinions are well known.  

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

COURT CLOSURES 2010- 2017 & MY 1000TH POST


Short and simple but NOT very sweet: court closures listed today which shame the MOJ

This my 1000th post on this site since I moved here in 2013.  The previous four years on a now defunct site when I was active contained 2000+ posts.  I  have my doubts as to whether I`ll be writing here in four years never mind producing posts at a similar rate. Anyway thanks to all who occasionally give a few minutes of their time perusing my offerings.

THE WHOLE SORRY TALE OF MOJ CUTS

From time to time there are, in every walk of life, unheralded events which often are a more accurate indicator of the underlying situations behind those events  than any number of statistical analyses or television interviews by those in authority.  The closure of a third of magistrates courts in the last decade was justified by the Ministry of Justice on cost saving.  But that`s not the message that the dozens of weasels in the MOJ press and PR department  distributed.  Efficiency was going to be improved without any significant downside.  Travelling times for participants to, from and between the reducing available courts were manipulated, predictable detrimental effects of video court "justice" were ignored, communication problems were similarly held to be simply overcome. Add to the mix the limited possibility of legal aid for many? most? defendants and a system that once was held in high regard was seen from outside Petty France as crumbling before our very eyes.  In Shropshire an example of a relatively minor unheralded event (for non participants) being symptomatic of the underlying malaise more or less tells the whole sorry tale.    

Repetition can sometimes, I confess, be a little boring but that does not necessarily reduce the underlying truth.  As a society we are failing the lowest drug addled,addicted and often  mentally impaired  members of society.  Sometimes we lock them up and sometimes we are so much in despair that we don`t.  Pressures are increasing to abandon completely custodial sentences currently available to magistrates.  We are told that rehabilitation will reduce offending for those currently being sent to custody within current magistrates` sentencing guidelines.  It is, however, because that cabinet member of supreme failure Chris Grayling emasculated the probation service on the basis of political ideology that it will be years before there will be confidence in truly being able to undertake such changes.  But we have been here before. His successor three times removed as justice secretary, David Gauke, has said that 3,111 prison officers were recruited between October 2016 and March 2018, surpassing a government pledge to recruit 2,500 prison officers by the end of this year.  What he doesn`t say is that approximately 5,000 prison officers lost their jobs between 2010 and 2016.  The MOJ instigated enormous cuts in those years ignoring the outcries from those who were in a perfect position to predict the outcome. 

Just two of thousands of cases of recidivism which our current sentencing guidelines cannot cope with are available here and here.  Similar offenders  are being sentenced in every courtroom every day all over the country. It is a national disgrace. It must not continue.

There must be out of the box thinking on what can be done for those tens of thousands locked up by my former colleagues annually.  Although forming only about 4% of all those sentenced the costs to society are enormous.  My out of the brain box remedy is a workhouse designed and staffed for the 21st century.  For those interested just type "workhouse" in the search box for my more detailed previous posts on the topic.