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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 24 July 2017
Friday, 21 July 2017
When a population loses confidence in all that comprises a justice system black clouds on the horizon are just a pre cursor to a storm ahead.
Thursday, 20 July 2017
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Nationwide it seems there has been a steady increase in begging whether through increased poverty and/or straightened circumstances owing to addiction(s). The problem local authorities have is, of course, what to do about it. Leamington Magistrates Court on behalf of the local council has issued one such vagrant with the ubiquitous CRASBO. This will solve nothing except that the offender will be before another court sooner or later on a criminal charge for which he will probably be imprisoned.
This little story is typical of so much that this and previous governments do in order to paper over deep problems in our society. Today`s announcement by the Home Secretary that she seeks to introduce new legislation on banning knives is just another pathetic attempt to remedy what are thought to be intractable problems. They are not. They require only honesty, money and a sincere wish to get to grip with one of society`s problems. If that requires authoritarian means so be it I say.
PS Last month on 21st June I predicted legislation on knives by the new Justice Secretary. I didn`t think it would come so soon. Seems I had the wrong department in mind but the right idea.
Friday, 14 July 2017
He does not mention Guidelines or public protection except for "impact". I also consider it questionable if "the right thing to do" is part of a structured sentencing exercise. As far as I am aware the victims` considerations should not inform sentencing. But then having been appointed 20 years ago my attitudes, training and experience might now be considered anti deluvian if I were still active.
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Friday, 7 July 2017
Notwithstanding the above I am indebted to a commenter for bringing to my attention this case. After a verdict of not guilty had been announced the bench chairman Dr Ian Haffenden is quoted in the penultimate paragraph as saying, “although we think that the defendant may have taken the items, the prosecution has not proved it so”. If this were in a Scottish courtroom the verdict would have been not proven and would have been respected as such. In England, however, it is an absolute disgrace. The chairman has cast aspersions on a woman his bench found to be not guilty because they applied the test; beyond reasonable doubt. To confirm their doubt is beyond belief. There is a tradition, I know no better, that even if a decision is split 2:1 a bench must not make that public. This bench chairman should be held to account before the appropriate authority. He was out of order. However it is unlikely that the defendant will have the wherewithal intellectually or financially to pursue that option. Indeed it is possible that her relief in being found not guilty will in itself be enough satisfaction for her.
Before I was appointed a chairman I sat often enough to observe not a few occupants of the middle chair who liked the sound of their own voice too much for their own good. I took note to put a five second mental delay before a major input to proceedings and to make that input as pithy as possible whilst ensuring my meaning and intention were clear to all. That, in my opinion, is common sense; a requirement for appointment 20 years ago but sadly no longer so.
Thursday, 6 July 2017
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Penelope Gibbs, a former magistrate and director of the organisation Transform Justice, says: “However good they are, we need magistrates to be truly representative of the communities they serve if trust in the criminal justice system is to be maintained. We don’t have enough BAME magistrates, and those we have are overwhelmingly middle-class and middle-aged. Where are the magistrates from the Somali, Roma and Romanian communities? Nowhere to be seen.”
The pusillanimous final two sentences sum up quite elegantly the type of reasoning put forward to pursue this so called argument. In order to serve judgement upon one`s fellow man [for the politically correct baggage followers the term embraces woman] for a start a high quality of use and understanding of the English language is required. Arabic speaking Somalis who are here have generally been refugees from a brutal dictatorship over the last two decades. Perhaps the second generation might emerge in the next decade who would be able to satisfy the requirements of appointment. They would be treated by appointment committees on their merits just as every would be magistrate has been, is and will be without regard to ethnicity. Roma by their very culture are not citizens living in a fixed locality although there are exceptions of course. The writer quoted above has nothing but invective to shout about in line with her political cause. Romanians in this country are by study generally manual workers with ultimate intentions to return to their country of origin. I am, incidentally, of the opinion that the current rules on appointment to the magistracy which do not require British citizenship, require re-assessment.
Be careful what you wish for. That hackneyed phrase could come back to haunt Penelope Gibbs, her acolytes and those funding her. There is no doubt in my mind that government generally would be happy to see the function of lay magistrates reduced to only presiding over simple offending eg TV licensing sitting in a back office a hundred miles removed from any courtroom. The day is not so far away when non locally affiliated single district judges will rule supreme in every courtroom. Perhaps after so called ethnicity comparisons of their middle aged white composition leads to some disquiet she will rue the time bemoaning a dearth of a bench which reflected, warts and all, the population of towns and boroughs in England. I personally think warts should be removed from the face of justice not excluding judges, lawyers, police when warts include those unfit irrespective of race, creed, religion, colour perceptions or so called ethnic diversity. If positive discrimination is at the heart of the argument let it be made openly. That would be an honest subject of debate.
The table below might be of some interest
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Monday, 3 July 2017
Friday, 30 June 2017
It is estimated that addiction is responsible for about 70% of acquisitive and/or violent crime. Therefore one would have thought that the intelligent answer to that would be to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime" (Tony Blair 1993) But nay. Since then we have endured tinkering........no other word seems more appropriate......with the justice system with platitudes and inefficiencies disguised as policy from the MOJ and Home Office. As examples just a few cases this week from magistrates courts illustrate what is really happening below the headlines of murder and terrorism; criminal activity which I would argue affect us all more than those aforesaid headline grabbers. Please spend a moment or two perusing these four cases of criminal activity driven by addiction. These cases are replicated in every magistrates` court every day of the year.
And what are we offered? Court closures by the hundred and severe restrictions on the availability of legal aid even for the poorest in society. And yet, as I wrote Wednesday June 28th the CPS Inspector`s report when noting that absentee defendants are "the biggest single reason why first hearings were ineffective" did not even mention court closures as a possible reason.
This is the Alice in Wonderland political world that appears to be the norm. No wonder younger voters with no memories of the Cuba crisis where MAD policy prevented war, the three day weeks and work by candlelight in the 1970s voted for a would be demagogue who offered a financial holy grail. MOJ and Home Office policies are a microcosm of all that`s wrong in this country financially, practically, morally and socially. There is nothing other than self serving preservation and limited horizons driving many parliamentarians despite that they protest too much. They voted in their arrogance to hold a referendum without any caveats on requiring a minimum turn out or majority and I write as a Brexiteer. By those very actions they have produced the biggest crisis since 1956 another date that means nothing to young voters. In its present form the Tory Party has outlived its usefulness where an incompetent Home Secretary with as much appeal as a rotten tomato was chosen as kingpin in order to prevent those more competent to succeed. She failed dismally with appointments to chair the inquiry into child abuse and her appointee into Grenfell has admitted within 24 hours that he will be unable to satisfy the reasonable requirements of residents. The buck has stopped right in her kitchen where she seems to be cladded to withstand the heat.
A country must be supported by a pillar of justice that is respected by all and funded to that end. That requirement has been forgotten and/or ignored for years.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
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Number CDP-2017-0002, 9 January 2017
Funding of Crown Prosecution Service
By Jacqueline Beard
A Westminster Hall debate on the subject of the funding of the Crown Prosecution Service has been scheduled for 1630hrs on Wednesday 11 January 2017. The Member in charge of this debate is Karl Turner MP.
Contents 1. Background 2 1.1 CPS budget outturn 2 1.2 HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate 2 1.3 Director of Public Prosecution’s evidence to the Justice Committee 2 2. Media 4 2.1 Articles and blogs 4 2.2 Press releases 5 3. Parliamentary Business 6 3.1 Parliamentary Questions 6 4. Organisations and further reading 11
The House of Commons Library prepares a briefing in hard copy and/or online for most non-legislative debates in the Chamber and Westminster Hall other than half-hour debates. Debate Packs are produced quickly after the announcement of parliamentary business. They are intended to provide a summary or overview of the issue being debated and identify relevant briefings and useful documents, including press and parliamentary material. More detailed briefing can be prepared for Members on request to the Library.
2 Number CDP-2017-0002, 9 January 2017
1.1 CPS budget outturn
The table below shows the budget outturn figures for the Crown Prosecution Service between 2010/2011 and 2015/16:
Further detail of the annual budget of the CPS can be found in its annual report and accounts which are available on the CPS website www.cps.gov.uk/publications/reports/.
The most recent of these (2015-2015) states, in the performance analysis: overview section:
The CPS’s net funding, as voted by Parliament, for the year to 31 March 2016 was £499.8 million. In delivering the public prosecution service the Department spent a total of £557 million. After taking into account £68.8 million income, the total net resource requirement (including capital) as shown in the Statement of Parliamentary Supply was £488.2 million which was £11.6 million or 2.3% less than the sum Voted to the CPS by Parliament.
1.2 HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
The most recent annual report of HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (2015-2016) makes the following comment regarding the CPS budget:
Previous recent annual reports have commented on the overall reduction in the CPS budget and the impact this has had, as reflected in reduced staffing levels and the closure of offices. However, the 2015 Government Comprehensive Spending Review confirmed that the CPS budget would be maintained with a sufficient increase to cover pay and price inflation.
1.3 Director of Public Prosecution’s evidence to the Justice Committee
In December 2015 the Director of Crown Prosecutions Alison Saunders gave evidence to the Justice Committee on the work of the CPS. Asked
Funding of Crown Prosecution Service 3
whether the CPS had the resources it needed to prosecute to the standards that we all want she said:
Yes, we think we do, particularly now that we have the CSR settlement. I am not saying that it is easy; let me say that first. Over the last five years, our budget has reduced by 23% or so. Where we have been able to make sure that we maintain or improve the service—we have improved our performance in some areas across those five years—we have taken the majority of the money out of things like IT, by becoming digital, and estates, by closing buildings and reducing the number of buildings we are in. We have reduced our headquarters by about 50% on the non-operational side. When I say non-operational, I mean people who are prosecuting. What will help us, and what we need to deliver going forward, with the spending review, is transforming summary justice, better case management in the Crown court, which is the equivalent, and continuing digitalisation. Those are all key to being able to maintain our performance.