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Police: RED CARD FOR JUDGES

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

There can`t be anybody who`s not heard of or used the phrase, "there`s one law for them and another for us" the terms "them" and "us" being who the listener wants them to be.  There is also the commonly accepted concept that the more of an object or a commodity one possesses the less value is perceived of a single item of that object or commodity.  An obvious example is money.  £10 to a receiver of social security and other benefits is worth almost literally infinitely more than the self same amount to a multi millionaire.  And what has this to do with what is a magistrate`s blog or perhaps more accurately the thoughts of a retired magistrate?  Confidence in equality before the law and confidence in those who administer the law are fundamental to our democratic well being.

At the last count earlier this year there were 12,651 magistrates in England and Wales whilst there were 3,174 judges of all levels of jurisdiction from county courts to the Supreme Court.  However reading through just a single year of disciplinary...

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Police: Unblurring the Lines

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Another recent Preventing Future Deaths notice from a Coroner has pricked my attention, concerning the sad death of Hannah Breadshaw from Greater Manchester.  Inevitably, PFDs are brief and not all details are included, but to my reading, this may be about the ever-blurred distinction between a threat to life incident and a somewhat more routine “welfare check”.

The relevant timeline regarding a call to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) about Hannah’s welfare is given as –

  • A friend of Hannah’s rings GMP at 12:30pm to raise “welfare concerns” and it was allocated a 1hr response time;
  • An ambulance was requested at 12:45pm and they arrive on scene first, at 2:10pm;
  • They request police for force entry at 2:26pm and chase GMP several times over two hours until police arrive at 4:47pm;
  • Entry forced, patient found deceased.

The IOPC were informed of the incident and they flagged three particular concerns prior to the inquest.  1)  a failure to escalate the incident, 2) a failure to make method of entry equipment more...

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Police: 25 SUGGESTIONS FROM THE JUSTICE GAP

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

I would  assume that most readers here have noticed in some media or other a convicted felon having his/her jail sentence increased on appeal by the attorney general. Indeed there are a couple of high profile cases currently going through the process right now.  Less media attention is given to those whose legal teams have convinced the court of appeal that the verdicts by which their clients were imprisoned were unsafe. Rape trials and child killers have often made the headlines with the conviction rate of the former being criticised as far too low and sentences of the latter less severe than the common man would deem necessary short of hanging. Whilst no UK government would every admit and perhaps even secretly admire in private whilst deploring in public the Chinese conviction rate of 99% is typical of justice within a dictatorship where opposition of any kind, criminal or otherwise, is seen as political opposition which must be eradicated.  

The Justice Gap, magazine of an independent pressure group,...

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Police: A New Mental Health Bill

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

It is being heavily trailed in the media that the Queen’s Speech this year, will contain a Mental Health Act (Reform) Bill – the beginning of the process of amending the Mental Health Act 1983, in its first significant upgrade since 2007, but trailed as a first major upgrade in forty years, since it was first enacted.  In fact, much of the 1983 Act is just the 1959 re-numbered, so it’s more like 63yrs old, but I disgress.

We do not yet have sight of the draft Bill but for those who want a quick catch up ahead of seeing what happens, the recent history is —

  • In 2017, Professor Sir Simon Wessely began chairing a review of the Mental Health Act which reported in late 2018.
  • In 2020, the Government produced a White Paper, outlining various ideas for discussion and public consultation.
  • In 2021, the Government produced its response to the public consultation on the White Paper.
  • 2022 – we are likely to see an actual Bill placed before Parliament for its consideration.

The links above are to the posts I wrote at the time on...

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Police: Granting Leave

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I’ve often known police officers wonder aloud as to why patients detained in mental health units under the Mental Health Act are permitted to have leave from hospital when they are a known flight or suicide risk.  Section 17 MHA allows the Responsible Clinician (MHA term for lead clinician in charge of someone’s care, usually a psychiatrist) to permit a patient to leave hospital, sometimes with conditions attached and it’s a crucial part of the process of mental health care, ahead of patients being discharged as part of their recovery.  Some patients can be detained for a considerable period of time after being acutely unwell, to imagine a person who at one point had lost the ability to make many of their own decisions and just keep them detained until they could be fully discharged, would be weird and fraught with risk – authorised leave is a part of preparing patients from discharge and building up resilience and decision-making capacity, ahead of full discharge.

GRANTING LEAVE

But none of this means all leave granted is...

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Police: CROWN COURT BACKLOG/MAGISTRATE SHORTAGE// GOVERNMENT SELF CREATED PROBLEMS

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

The issues of anything to do with magistrates are usually not headline making nor worthy of headline making........until recently.  No judicial voices were heard in the last decade crying out against the two thirds reduction in the numbers of magistrates from 2010 a reduction that was entirely predictable considering the age profile of those in 2010 and a government policy of non recruitment thereafter.  Now there is a headlong drive by the Ministry of Justice to enlist no less than 4,000 new magistrates to join the current cohort of twelve and a half thousand. One doesn`t need to be a Nostradamus to appreciate that within a year or less a quarter of those on the bench will be novices. One unmentioned result of this inexperienced influx will be that legal advisors will hold sway to an unhealthy level of magistrates` decision making. The ability of benches to take an independent view of a situation will be funnelled into the mindset of paid civil servants who...

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Police: Confusion or Conflation?

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System has published a briefing on “Women’s Health and Wellbeing in Prisons”.  This post is about one specific claim only, within that briefing – that prisons are regularly but inappropriately being used a “place of safety” (PoS) and this is an unintended consequence of a change of policy to prevent women languishing in police cells (presumably, there as a place of safety). The briefing itself is short (10 pages) and this one point is only mentioned in brief, relying in turn on a report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons and Probation about an inspection which obviously must have wider implications across the prison system.

Before I get in to this: of course, prisons are over-relied upon to accommodate highly vulnerable people in circumstances where they should be able to access mental health beds in a much more timely way.  Additionally, but separately, it can be said there are difficulties securing access to MHA beds for those who require admission...

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Police: THE CHOICE IS BINARY

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


On 12th January I wrote at length on the trial of the Colston 4.  Thus I was pleased to note that the Attorney General whose decisions since taking office have not been above criticism has taken an interest in this case and referred it to the Court of Appeal.  From recent divergences of opinion on the law most notably Boris Johnson`s remarks on the exporting of illegal immigrants to Rwanda that he expects opposition in the courts as to the legality of his proposals a political divide between "woke" lawyers and the rest is becoming apparent.  It is also  apparent that the political divisions opened by the 2016 Referendum, itself an expedient act by David Cameron to hold together the Tory Party, have widened the gulf between our previously held opinions of what we call the Left and Right.  Differences in matters eg sexual orientation and gender have now become standards by which extremists view their world.........not ours but theirs because such individuals apply their self defined formulae to almost any activity or...

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Police: Courage and Service

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

One of the best parts of my job is giving out commendations at the Chief Constable’s Achievement Awards at Tally Ho. We try very hard to share great stories from these evenings as there is so much great work and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Last month Parminder Hunjan and Maninder Hunjan were convicted of wounding with intent on PCs Leon Mittoo and James Willetts. I have to say the bravery by both on that day, which was graphically shown on the body cameras, was beyond extraordinary and one of the most courageous things I have seen in 32 years in policing. The determination to attack is extraordinary and the actions by both officers is incredible. They will be recognised.

It is a sober reminder to the public that whatever the imperfections in policing it is made up of some of the most amazing people. They were also both student officers.

Which brings me to some very unhelpful media coverage on student officers recently, which I found really annoying.

Ever since Robert Peel invented policing we have recruits...

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Police: LOCAL COUNCILS ENCOURAGE FLY TIPPING

Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

According to the government whether we like it or not restrictions imposed over the last two years to minimise the transmission of Covid 19 have been lifted.  We can all go about our business as we wish taking any precautions we deem helpful (if any at all)  and trusting in our own common sense and vaccinations. Sounds simple but there are some areas of our lives where Covid restrictions have been used to make more inroads into the way we live.  

Magistrates will be well aware of the increase in the numbers appearing before them on charges of fly tipping as are local councils who provide the first line of defence against those despoilers of our highways and byways.   Councils are able to issue on-the-spot fines to fly-tippers of up to £400 and can stop, search and seize vehicles suspected of being used for fly-tipping. Local authorities and the Environment Agency are also able to issue penalties of up to £400 to householders who do not pass their waste to a licensed carrier and whose waste is then found...

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