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Police: JUDICIAL CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS OFFICE MUST BE REFORMED

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

A decade or so ago a regular annual check on the judiciary regulatory body website now the Judicial Conduct  Investigations Office would have revealed decisions for about two dozen magistrates whose actions, speech and/or behaviour had fallen foul of the content of one or more of the 20 pages comprising The Judicial Conduct (Magistrates) Rules [available on line as a pdf file].  This year to date nine such JPs have had the ignominy of their case details published on line albeit in a highly abbreviated form. All such cases at the JCIO have the minimum of details published.  Indeed the whole process from initial inquiries to final decision is about as straightforward as the maze at Hampton Court. It is shrouded in secrecy behind the apparent clarity of the 20 pages of directions and procedures to be followed. Of the aforementioned nine, three magistrates were sacked owing to their failure to sit the minimum number of times required; viz. 13 half days annually.  I have always felt little sympathy for such...

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Police: ALCOHOL ANKLE TAGGING

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

It has been variously estimated that around 70% of all crime is alcohol or drug related. Where alcohol has been indirectly related to a violent criminal event and not the principal offence in itself 39% has been the figure estimated.  These numbers are well known to all those involved in the legal system.  Curfews, overnight detentions, fines and occasionally imprisonment have failed to control the problem.  Those alcoholics with means can avail themselves of many medical and pseudo medical practices privately but they are a minority.  Today the government announced its latest initiative to get a grip of this problem; alcohol sensitive tags which measure alcohol in sweat  to be worn around the ankle.  

The results of the two pilots seem too good to be true. It seems to me that the counselling throughout the required period of use and the actions taken when breach is suspected will make or break this scheme. There is no mention in the press release of the probation service whose officers will be at the so called coal face in the...

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Police: TEN YEARS ON//WHAT MAKES A GOOD MAGISTRATE?

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Just over ten years ago I posted an item copied below. Readers might wish to add their own ideas of what makes a good magistrate.

BECOME A J.P. WE DON`T NEED TO KNOW IF YOU`RE A FREEMASON 
by TheJusticeofthePeace @ 15. Feb. 2010. – 16:55:52 


A few years ago........about ten or so...........when applying to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace a candidate had to declare which political party had been the recipient of his/her last general election vote, had to demonstrate that "common sense" was a faculty s/he had and could be demonstrated and that he was or was not a Freemason. With the current new advice from the Ministry of Justice the last of those three declarations has been lifted; the others were removed some years ago. So now those who objected to having to demonstrate common sense, owning up to which party they voted for or confirming or denying they were on the square can apply in good conscience to my boss Jack Straw via the Appointments Committee. 

I wonder what changes in the Ministry`s estimate of what makes a good magistrate will be mandatory in 2020? 




Police: "NO SEPARATE PENALTY" MUST BE RE-THOUGHT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Looking back over two decades I can still recollect the feeling of uncertainty as a new magistrate when forced to agree with those more senior than myself at that time that "no separate penalty" was the appropriate sentence for some offenders.  It was just one of the many facets of life on the bench which were not covered in any form of training. If one were truly interested in "getting up to speed" it was a matter of self education. The logic as explained by the Sentencing Council  is copied below,  That logic is fairly applied in many cases where the offenders` are charged with multiple motoring offences the most common combinations being any two or more of driving without due care or speeding combined with a license offence, no M.O.T., using a mobile phone and/or no insurance.  However when dissimilar offences arising from the same "stop" by police are charged together the logic seems in my opinion to be awry. 

Where an offender is to be fined for two or more offences that arose out of the same...

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Police: CONVID 19 AND A CHANGED SOCIETY

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
As much as any part of our society affected by Convid 19 I suppose our legal system has come under as much pressure as any but as is not unusual that system and its problems fly under the radar  of many (most?) commentators and most certainly the public it`s there to serve until of course one member of such is caught in its tendrils. The ridiculous behaviour of some chief constables, behaviour which is often unseen or unheard outside police headquarters, in ordering Joe Plod to issue tickets to those appearing to  contravene hastily assembled government guidelines on congregation and/or destination must be considered when this is all over so that those individuals promoted past their competence levels never again sit in places of authority. And those taking and executing those orders with the gusto of the Stasi must also be considered seriously at risk of undermining the confidence we still retain in the police generally.  Failure to do so will reduce for ever the status of the police to enforcers as they are perceived in so...

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Police: SINGLE JUSTICE PROCEDURE: A J.P.`s ACCOUNT

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
The Single Justice Procedure was initiated subsequent to my retirement from the bench and so my knowledge of such is necessarily limited.  My initial reaction on learning about this innovation was not exactly one of enthusiastic support.  It seemed that the onus was more on expediency than innocent until proved guilty.  It is therefore quite interesting for me to copy from today`s announcement from the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary of the experience of a magistrate operating the SJP.  One point he makes is quite remarkable insofar as he writes of dealing with 60 matters in his two hour shift whilst acknowledging the juggling and use of two or more on line facilities simultaneously including communication with his legal advisor.  Readers will have their own opinions of the benefits of this method of streamlined justice to those outside the offices of the MOJ in  Petty France; namely the defendants.  

 "Supporting the justice system from home
7 May 2020 |News|COVID-19

As we continue to find out how judicial office...

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Police: ANOTHER M.A. TILT AT THE SENTENCING WINDMILL

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
In today`s Times [behind its paywall]  Magistrates Association chairman John Bache has made yet another request from that organisation that the magistrates courts` limit of six months custody be increased to twelve.  I posted five years ago (copied below) on the arguments made by his predecessor and my opinion at that time.  In general that opinion has not changed but of course the circumstances surrounding the current argument have changed beyond recognition.  Expediency is a common reason for fundamental changes in the way our society is run when the clamour is loud enough but it often takes years for those changes to be revealed as detrimental to our well being in some form or other when what would have been obvious in the situation  had been more carefully considered before the decisions had been taken.  An example which comes to mind was the railway closures in 1963 as a result of The Beeching Report which was adopted by the then government; it resulted in the closure of a third of the rail network and the...

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Police: MOJ`s CONTEMPT FOR MAGISTRATES

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
There is no doubt that the MOJ pays only lip service to magistrates, their opinions, their well being, their future.  A clear example is today`s  publication of the latest press release from the weasels in Petty France on the subject of new technology in courts. It includes remarks from a crown court judge, a senior police officer and the chair of the Bar Council. But one would seek in vain a comment from somebody representative of magistrates or indeed a single magistrate him or herself. Such is another indication that the days of the magistrate and his/her current position in our courts system are clearly numbered. 


Police: CIVITAS OPINION ON HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Today CIVITAS has published its monthly review for April. The section copied below from the review is IMHO essential reading for all those involved in our legal system.  Certainly the views expressed will not be acceptable to many (some) but the issue is one of importance to us all however much we agree or disagree with the conclusion. 

Rebalancing the British Constitution: The future for human rights law
The Human Rights Act 1998 is claimed by its advocates to contain fundamental rights that everyone in the UK is entitled to, by incorporating the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic British law. But as Jim McConalogue writes, its 22-year history now testifies to a lawyer’s charter which disregards the fundamental rights of many people in society and has enabled judicial supremacy to unsettle the UK constitution.

The Act is publicly justified as ‘an integral part’ of the British constitution and yet in practice, it emboldens a judicial supremacy of rights, far removed and ...

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Police: WHAT IS THE "SENIOR MAGISTRACY"?

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Yesterday the Lord Chancellor made the following statement in reply to a question in the House of Lords,

"I thank the hon. Lady for that question. She will be glad to know that daily work is going on between my officials and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, the senior judiciary and the senior magistracy (my bold)  to make sure that we can progress more cases through both the magistrates and the Crown courts. Of immediate importance are magistrates court hearings: I want to see more of them come forward. We can do a lot of them virtually, and I know that the work being done by my hon. Friend the Minister for Crime and Policing, together with my Department, will help improve the speed of the delivery of these important cases."

My simple point is what is the senior magistracy?  My suspicions are that I know what it is not likely to be and that is the various chairman of the various benches known as the bench chairmen`s forum.  Not likely because these people are elected by their colleagues and the...

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Latest The Justice Of The Peace Stories

JUDICIAL CONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS OFFICE MUST BE REFORMED
ALCOHOL ANKLE TAGGING
TEN YEARS ON//WHAT MAKES A GOOD MAGISTRATE?
"NO SEPARATE PENALTY" MUST BE RE-THOUGHT
CONVID 19 AND A CHANGED SOCIETY

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