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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice are at it again. Like every government for the last twenty years crime and punishment makes its pitch for a few headlines to show that in addition to the two competitors; education and the NHS, this government is going to keep you safe by punishing the bad guys. From Tony Blair making his pitch in 1993 to today`s announcement  on tougher sentences and monitoring  of terrorists the tone doesn`t change and it`s unlikely that results will prove the benefits promised.  In essence legislation will be enacted so that convicted terrorists would not be eligible for parole and those convicted of preparing acts of terrorism or directing a terrorist organisation will spend at least 14 years behind bars. The Home Secretary has told us that there would be increased police and that a probation service ruined by failing Grayling as Justice Secretary under Cameron would be given the resources to manage offenders after they are released. This is an assurance that a probation...

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Police: Using PFD Reports

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

We’ve started the new year with some familiar messages – more preventing future death reports (PFDs) from UK coroners after someone tragically lost their life in circumstances which gave rise to fears that aspects could be repeated and lead to future tragedy. PFDs are statutory notices, something the Coroner issues to an agency who may control aspects of what went wrong or contributed to the outcome. This could be anything from training of staff, to policies and procedures within or across agencies to anything else thought relevant. The organisation in receipt of such a notice has 56days to respond outlining their reaction to the recommendation(s) and these things are usually uploaded to the Office of the Chief Coroner’s website, where the notices are categorised by theme.

I’ve regularly browsed this website for a number of years and this post comes after another recent session – you may find these links useful, if you wish to do the same. These things are tagged in the way that a social media blog would be, so you may...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Magistrates just like many especially in public service have to use the sensitivity of a spider`s leg to guard against false accusations of sexism, sizeism, fatism etc,and the bete noir of them all, racism. Oops! Let me rephrase...the bane of them all and the one ism that has caused the death of tens of millions and misery for millions. However like the unbridled prescribing of antibiotics the wider the term is bandied about the weaker is its application. 

Last week the actor Laurence Fox appeared on the panel of the BBC programme "Question Time".  In response to a comment re Duchess of Sussex  from an audience member widely considered to have been planted by the BBC he was accused of being a “white privileged male”. His reply,  “I can’t help what I am, I was born like this, it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist — you’re being racist.” was well received by the audience. 

And that whole sorry episode reminded me of a conversation just before Christmas...

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Police: Hotel Rooms and s136

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

I’ve written about the issue of the Mental Health Act and hotel rooms before – focussing on the stated case of ‘Rosso’. I’m not hyperlinking to the old blog post precisely because it is now redundant and out of date – it was written a few years ago, well before the 2017 changes to the Mental Health Act which took effect in December 2018. Forget it – Rosso is now history and has been for a while.  I want to go through how the police now need to think about hotel rooms and the Mental Health Act 1983, specifically sections 135/136 MHA. This post follows the desperately sad inquest in to the death of Dr Deborah Lamont who, the Coroner ruled today, died by suicide in a Cardiff hotel in March 2019.

It will be necessary and relevant to see the full PFD report from the Coroner to answer some of the questions I’m interested in, but a big issue emerges from this inquest in the immediate media coverage and which addresses a question I was asked only yesterday, during the delivery of training in my own force:

Is a hotel...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
For some years there have been musings from quarters on high on the televising of events at the criminal courts.  Since its inception the Supreme Court has been available for those interested to view on line. I`m sure that nobody then would have predicted that during the Brexit legal shenanigans prior to October 31st last year at its height over 2.8 million viewers gave up some of their valuable time to watch the live proceedings.  However with regard to the every day process of justice at magistrates and crown courts with the decline of local print media that process has become ever more invisible to the general public in England and Wales. However for those north of the border the criminal justice in my opinion bears much more relevance to this new millennium than its southern counterpart.  

Guide to Jury Service Eligibility and Applying for Excusal in Scotland
Are you qualified for jury service?
Subject to the information included in boxes A and B below, you are qualified for jury...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Electrically assisted pedal cycles, as the government defines electric bikes, can be ridden without bureaucratic interference from the Ministry of Transport provided they comply as follows

An EAPC must have pedals that can be used to propel it.

It must show either:

    the power output
    the manufacturer of the motor

It must also show either:

    the battery’s voltage
    the maximum speed of the bike

Its electric motor:

    must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
    should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph

An EAPC can have more than 2 wheels (for example, a tricycle).
Where you can ride

If a bike meets the EAPC requirements it’s classed as a normal pedal bike. This means you can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else pedal bikes are allowed

It was therefore surprising to read that a disqualified car driver at Taunton Magistrates Court was further disqualified as a result of riding an   E bike.  I would hope that the bench was familiar with the law as above. 


Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace

Admission:- I am not a major fan of the honours system the age of 83 my late mother was awarded MBE for services to the community.  She ran her local Citizens` Advice Bureau for over twenty years.  She was immensely proud of these three letters and was known to occasionally let others be aware of her pride.  She thoroughly deserved that royal recognition and others who have been similarly awarded are likewise held in high regard in their communities and rightly so.  However, when the prime ministers responsible for the recommendations of the highest public awards do so in act akin to the showering of confetti at a bridal party the smugness and aloofness of their position should be intolerable. It isn`t. Twice yearly undeserving gong seekers are bestowed with their lifelong dream irrespective of their worthiness. From failed politicians and former MPs being given a meal ticket until death in the House of Lords to those who have been miserable failures in their often public positions...

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Police: Halfway from Elsewhere

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

This post arises from a specific event, but it’s far from unique.  I want to use it as an example of something so straight-forward and obvious, yet complex and intractable and which raises a number of questions I suspect are often overlooked or set aside.  It relates to the conveyance of patients who have absconded from hospital and then turned up out of area – ie, out of the area of the police force to which they’ve been reported missing.  It’s about the return of AWOL patients (those who are absent without leave under the Mental Health Act 1983) but it allows me to cover a few things I’ve mentioned before, in a new context of a real incident.  So apologies to those who’ve read of some of these things before, but I’m re-painting the Forth Bridge here, as requested!

Last week at work, another police force had re-detained a patient in their area who was missing from a hospital in our area.  When the patient was reported missing to us by the hospital, we had undertaken certain initial enquiries and asked the other...

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Police: Painting the Forth Bridge

Written by RSS Poster Mental Health Cop

Mental health stuff in policing is not my job any more – not really.  I’m still asked to offer advice or opinion from time to time and most of the other inspectors on my team have used the phone-a-friend service which is inherently on offer when I’m on duty!  I’ve reviewed some incidents and policies when requested, written the odd guidance document over the last nine months but I stopped working full-time on mental health at the end of March last year.  Since April, I’ve been an operational police officer, working 24/7 across the West Midlands and in a few days, I’ll move to another 24/7 role in our force control room, working as a Tactical Firearms Commander (determining whether armed police are deployed to high-threat incidents involving firearms or other potentially lethal weapons and dangers offenders).  It was against the background of my professional role changing I decided some time away from mental health and social media was required whilst I focussed on my new role and took stock of myself as I...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Many more illustrious observers than I have pointed out in recent days that the government is seriously considering restricting the powers of the judiciary as a result of the shenanigans over parliament`s control of its proceedings during the Brexit debacle of last year. Those constitutional high flying legal eagles on and appearing in front of the Supreme Court certainly are well able to offer their own arguments when push comes to shove but where the legal system truly impacts upon the general population is at the magistrates courts and it is within the confines of this institution that the ravaging of our supposedly world renown justice system is there for all the world to see if it were interested and that`s the point; within and without "justice" the policy is make do and mend. When I was appointed in the 1990s magistrates controlled within certain boundaries the process. And that is when government began to extend its power. Beginning with the 1997 Labour administration and accelerating fiercely with the...

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