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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.
Saturday, 31 August 2013
Friday, 30 August 2013
Thursday, 29 August 2013
“At one time only members of relatively few professions or occupations were subject to having to uphold personal and professional high standards and be answerable to their institutional peers for any failings real or suspected. Law and medicine were the two ancient professions which for generations were alone in policing themselves. In the post war era there has been increasing government influence in the standards and operation of these professions` controlling bodies. Many more professions have been brought under similar umbrellas to increase the public`s confidence in the protection offered. Optometry, osteopathy and teaching are just three of the “newer” professions subject to control by regulatory councils. This oversight in addition to the aforementioned applies to professionals employed or self employed even although those in the former category are also subject to any controls agreed with their employers according to their contracts of employment. Police officers are exempt from this individual professional regulation.
The disturbing case reported in yesterday`s Telegraph and the even more disturbing results of an inquiry into the officers` conduct should encourage the government to set up a Policing Council. Considering the coalition is almost at war with the police another controversial action might be politically opportune and popular with many of its wavering supporters. As a matter of interest the South Wales Constabulary in 2010 dismissed 6 officers and had 8 officers who resigned prior to a hearing or during investigation. None was shown to have retired on medical grounds. The complement of this force is currently 3,012 police officers.”
When a convicted murderer is released early from his/her sentence owing to doubts about his/her guilt we all read about the sorry story in the papers or see the newly freed haggard individual at a hastily assembled press conference making the first statements of what freedom is all about.
But wrongful convictions are happening all the time albeit at a lower level of criminality or supposed criminality. Thousands are walking about London unaware that by having been fined at a Magistrates` Court for non payment of their fare on a London bus they have acquired a criminal record;not necessarily one that appears on the Police National Computer but one that in some circumstances should be declared eg for application to the higher professions. Sometimes this can be the result of a fares Inspector not offering the suspected "fare dodger" the opportunity of paying a penalty fare or following up a perfectly genuine reason for not having a valid oyster card when boarding a bus. A perfect example of the latter is when a passenger with no previous history of fare dodging has boarded a bus, for some reason has not "pinged" his/her oyster card and when asked to produce it by an inspector discovers that it has been forgotten. By offering the explanation that a valid oyster card has been mistakenly eg left at home, in another jacket or one of many reasons we forget things etc an inspector should note the explanation and after taking a name and address offer 21 days for the valid card to be sent to Transport for London as proof of legal right to have travelled that day. That offer should be followed up by a letter from TFL again offering the non payer the opportunity to explain the reasons and provide proof of a genuine error. Often that procedure is not properly followed.
So if you are an honest person never having been involved in fare dodging on London buses and you are threatened with court action despite offering your explanation that you were at the time of ticket inspection under the impression that your valid card was on your person stand your ground and request that you be given the opportunity to produce said card and/or be offered a penalty notice. Make your voice heard within the time limits or you might be sorry later.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Monday, 26 August 2013
Sunday, 25 August 2013
I`m a bit beyond the age of having been interested in skate boards. So I have even less knowledge of power assisted skate boards. I do have some experience of cycling; after all what`s the adage?…….nobody ever forgets how to ride a bike. I have been known (in the dim distant past) to be a little “over the limit” but not whilst being in charge of a bike. The law on drinking and cycling is not uninteresting. Electrically assisted bikes (when they comply with the statutory rules) are “mechanically propelled vehicles” under the Road Traffic Acts. The offence of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs is available for the CPS, as is the related offence of being in charge while unfit. This offence carries a penalty including custody. (RTA ss.4(1), 4(2); RTOA s.9, Sch 2). The offence can be committed if one`s ability to drive properly is impaired – one doesn`t have to be incapable of proper control (RTA s.4(5)). So it seems that this offence is easier to commit than riding while unfit.
If an individual is accused of this offence the police can’t insist on a roadside test (breath tests, impairment tests etc) but can insist it be conducted at a police station or hospital. Failure to comply is an offence carrying a fine of up to £5000. (RTA ss.7(1), 7(6); RTOA s.9, Sch 2)
Returning to the subject of a skate board and its use by somebody having tested with excess alcohol it seems that perhaps the CPS review of their decision to prosecute Mr Remi Barban was flawed. That at least was the effective decision of colleagues at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Courtwho acquitted Mr Barban of drink driving whilst on his powered skateboard.
Personally I`ll stick to four wheels and no drinking.
Saturday, 24 August 2013
Friday, 23 August 2013
Thursday, 22 August 2013
Wednesday, 21 August 2013
Monday, 19 August 2013
It can be argued that for much low level offending the justice system can be truncated for the purpose simply to punish and deter. Rehabilitation and concern for any victim can safely be considered as inappropriate and unnecessary. Into this category of offending can be included eg the offences of using a mobile phone whilst driving and driving without due care and attention. And to some extent the government seems to agree. I posted on this topic on August 13th. Having had a few days to think more on this I am convinced that the reasoning behind this change of policy (with regard to driving without due care) and a general increase in some FPN tariffs is simply to increase the “take” for the Treasury. A driver using a mobile phone which might cost £200 - £500 is hardly gong to be persuaded to fit a hands free system or refrain from mobile use by increasing the FPN from £60 to £100. A three point penalty on the driving license remains unchanged as it does for careless driving for which the FPN fine is the same £100. Convicted of careless driving after trial would cost an offender from half a week`s wages and 3 or 4 points on the license to three times that amount and up to 9 penalty points or disqualification.
Saturday, 17 August 2013
Friday, 16 August 2013
2. A permanent member of the household is disabled and unable to support themselves or has a long-term medical condition;
3. A carer, social worker, health visitor or physician has indicated that a member of the household may be vulnerable;
4. Households on a low income/state benefit with young children; or
5. A customer dependent on medical equipment that is operated by electricity e.g. a stair lift, electric wheelchair, defibrillator or dialysis machine.