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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 24 May 2018
The history of an ex senior Met officer Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner is a history of all that is wrong with the Met. I first commented upon her activities on 10th June 2016 and then a month later and finally on 19th August 2016. This sad sordid story is now concluded. Chief Inspector Adrian Denby a decorated and respected officer has been awarded £870K as a result of de Brunner`s sex discriminating actions against him. That it has taken two years to achieve the wronged officer`s vindication is a disgrace. That the Met is considering an appeal compounds its folly. What is equally disturbing is that the Home Office refuses to divulge under the Freedom of Information Act the numbers of senior police officers convicted of misconduct; such refusal being only an indication of how serious misconduct by senior officers is on the increase and that the confidence of we the public would take a massive hit if the truth were known.
Tuesday, 22 May 2018
Monday, 21 May 2018
There were 354 deaths in prison in 2016, including three homicides. This compares to 257 deaths in 2015 and 8 homicides. In 20161, there were 204 deaths by natural causes, 120 deaths by suicide and three homicides. 27 deaths are currently classified as ‘other’. This includes 18 deaths classified as ‘awaiting further information’ and nine deaths classified as ‘non-natural/other’. There were 120 deaths by suicide in prisons in 2016, the highest annual number since records began in 1978. This figure may rise when the outstanding AFI deaths are re-classified. There were 90 deaths by suicide in 2015 and 89 in 2014. There were three apparent homicides in prison reported in the media in 2016. There were eight apparent homicides in 2015, the highest number of homicides on record since 1978, where there were five homicides. There were three homicides in 2014 and four in 2013.
Last year Sodexo won a large order for the Department of Work and Pensions. However last week the company was fined £304,925 for operating a river cruise boat without a valid Domestic Safety Management (DSM) certificate. This omission put the lives of passengers at risk.
In the mind of this capitalist supporting blogger outsourcing in general, not forgetting the scandals involving hospitals and care homes, has reached its sell by date. This and previous government by not restraining raw capitalism which has been allowed to run riot, the Carillion collapse of last month being just the latest example, is bedding in the possibility of Marxists entering numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street. With the current occupants there tearing each others eyes out over Brexit they have lost sight (pun intended) of the basis on which this country has provided our still just about coping standard of living. MAY MUST GO before it`s too late.
Friday, 18 May 2018
Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Tuesday, 15 May 2018
The first copied below is part of a speech from Alex Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham on the Grenfell Inquiry. His words should be noted by those who criticise magistrates for not having the intellectual ability to understand complex cases.
"From my experience, just an appeal from a magistrates court in a relatively modest case will involve a judge and two lay assessors. That is why it is critical that the other members of the panel, which includes Mr Justice Moore-Bick, have decision-making power. They cannot simply be there to be thought of as making up the numbers; they must bring their weight of experience from the community and shared understanding. By the way, over many centuries lay people have shown themselves well able to analyse complex issues and do justice. To those people who might suggest we have simply a single judge, it is no answer to say, “Oh, it’s too complicated, too difficult, too technical.” Lay people are capable of understanding—of course they are—as long as matters are properly presented, and I am sure they will be."
The average assumed cost of each type of report is shown in the following table:
|Report type||Assumed average cost per report (£)|
|Data Period||Total number of pre-sentence reports (000s)||Assumed Costs (£m)|
|1 Apr 2015 – 31 Mar 2016||160.4||20.9|
|1 Apr 2016 – 31 Mar 2017||136.7||16.1|
Friday, 11 May 2018
A few years ago owing to an EU determination to reduce pollution many cars were being offered as standard equipment an engine cut out when the car was stationary. I wonder if any legal eagles have attempted to use this factor in an attempt to have a client acquitted of the charge of using a mobile phone when driving.
Thursday, 10 May 2018
Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Friday, 4 May 2018
In March in Scotland there were angry protests at new guidance that could force rape victims to give evidence against their will. Earlier this week Scotland`s chief judge suggested that rape "victims" need not appear in court. These two apparently diametrically opposite viewpoints can be read and compared in reports here and here.
There is no doubt that this debate will become more heated in all parts of the country. When not just a normal act between two people but one could say an essential part of human life can become a criminal act there is bound to be rancorous debate. When the likelihood of an impartial witness being available to corroborate or deny an account by the accuser or the accused is constrained a court must use all it has at its disposal to reach the truth; an exercise of extreme difficulty. All of which leads me round in a complete circle from my statement above; namely the verdict of "not proven" in a rape trial must in real terms be a summation in the minds of many jurors but finding actual expression only in Scotland.
Wednesday, 2 May 2018
Monday, 30 April 2018
Thursday, 26 April 2018
Monday, 23 April 2018
C. Breaches 2.2.15 The essence of a suspended sentence is to make it abundantly clear to an offender that failure to comply with the requirements of the order or commission of another offence will almost certainly result in a custodial sentence. Where an offender has breached any of the requirements without reasonable excuse for the first time, the responsible officer must either give a warning or initiate breach proceedings.31 Where there is a further breach within a twelve-month period, breach proceedings must be initiated.32
2.2.16 Where proceedings are brought the court has several options, including extending the operational period. However, the presumption (which also applies where breach is by virtue of the commission of a further offence) is that the suspended prison sentence will be activated (either with its original custodial term or a lesser term) unless the court takes the view that this would, in all the circumstances, be unjust. In reaching that decision, the court may take into account both the extent to which the offender has complied with the requirements and the facts of the new offence.33
2.2.17 Where a court considers that the sentence needs to be activated, it may activate it in full or with a reduced term. Again, the extent to which the requirements have been complied with will be very relevant to this decision.
2.2.18 If a court amends the order rather than activating the suspended prison sentence, it must either make the requirements more onerous, or extend the supervision or operational periods (provided that these remain within the limits defined by the Act).34 In such cases, the court must state its reasons for not activating the prison sentence,35 which could include the extent to which the offender has complied with requirements or the facts of the subsequent offence.
2.2.19 If an offender near the end of an operational period (having complied with the requirements imposed) commits another offence, it may be more appropriate to amend the order rather than activate it.
2.2.20 If a new offence committed is of a less serious nature than the offence for which the suspended sentence was passed, it may justify activating the sentence with a reduced term or amending the terms of the order.
2.2.21 It is expected that any activated suspended sentence will be consecutive to the sentence imposed for the new offence.
2.2.22 If the new offence is non-imprisonable, the sentencer should consider whether it is appropriate to activate the suspended sentence at all.
Where the court decides to amend a suspended sentence order rather than activate the custodial sentence, it should give serious consideration to extending the supervision or operational periods (within statutory limits) rather than making the requirements more onerous.
The problem with SSOs is that there is an underlying prescription within the Ministry of Justice that prison sentences are to be avoided and that such sentences should be reserved for those most likely to be harmful to the citizen going about his lawful business. However since the riots of 2011 and the ongoing stirring up of fear of terrorism those whose actions threaten the stability of the state appear also to be subject to increasingly harsh immediate custodial sentences. My experience of structured sentencing is that many legal advisors when presented with a bench`s decision of immediate custody will offer “advice” that perhaps there is enough wiggle room to suspend the sentence. The whole analysis of deciding if an offender having clearly breached the custody threshold should be mitigated to that sentence being suspended is thrown into disarray by sentencing at crown courts. About 16% of sentences for either way or indictable only offences receive community orders. That includes those offenders who elect trial by jury and those sent there for sentencing from the lower court.
Sensational headlines like this are nothing new. But there is no doubt the whole process of a suspended custodial sentence is a very hot potato. Sentencers only chip away to its underlying principles as best as they can in order to use it justly for all involved.