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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
The financial acumen of the people who service the Ministry of Justice has never been a pre - requisite for employment.  Indeed government in general of whatever department has been infamous for selling off assets at giveaway prices the most scandalous of all being Gordon Brown`s selling our gold at a time when the market was at its lowest for years. In 2010 the MOJ began the great court sell off.  Buildings deemed superfluous to need were closed and most but not all were sold to a first come first served bidder. Wantage magistrates court was one of the first closures. It shut its doors in 2010 under the orders of that great EU fanatic and so called man of the people with his crumpled suits and hush puppies; Kenneth Clarke. It took six more years for a buyer to come forward and by then the MOJ were glad to get rid of it and get rid of it they did for  £657,000. I am not a chartered surveyor or property expert but it seems to me that the buyer was a very shrewd cookie indeed. Including the...

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Police: From stop and search to stop and talk and stop and think

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

Last week I called the murder of three teenage boys in Birmingham a local emergency. This week murders in London and Manchester made this a national crisis. On Wednesday I joined other Chiefs at a meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss our response which was a very positive, energised meeting.

Meanwhile you have been working incredibly hard. From the staff investigating these crimes to officers carrying out searches in often difficult circumstances. I commend you all for stepping up to the challenge of protecting young people.

The citywide section 60 needed to send out a message: carrying weapons has become too frequent and people will be searched to protect our children. I think the message has been sent out loudly and clearly and has created some disruption. From today (Friday 8 March) our strategy will evolve.

Stop and search

The citywide section 60 will end but in parts of Birmingham it will continue as we have areas where we still need to keep at this. We will not be waiting for new intelligence or...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
In 2012 the minimum age for magistrates was reduced from 27 to 18. I considered that a gross error at the time and still do.  The current minimum age for voting is also 18. The Representation of the People Act 1969 lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, with effect from 1970 and remained in force until the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 which allowed 16 year olds to vote for the first time but only in Scotland and only in that particular referendum. Soldiers cannot be sent into combat until 18. Jurors cannot sit until 18. In contrast however.  Felons under 21 may not be sentenced to a whole life order and so must become eligible for parole. Many (most?) car rental companies stipulate a minimum age of 21 although some allow 18 year olds to rent very small cars. The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in England and Wales is 16 although this requires consent of parents and guardians if a participant is under eighteen. 

From the sample above it is obvious that age restriction rules are...

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Police: Naming Names

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

Earlier this week, using a set of very carefully chosen words, Theresa May appeared to suggest that there was no connection between falling police numbers and rising violent crime.

She was wrong. 

Of course the rise in violence is not only about police numbers (there are a hugely complex combination of factors in play), but implying that there is no connection at all between those two things defies both common sense and the professional experience of thousands of police officers, my own included. 

And it isn’t the first time that she has been wrong about policing.

In 2010, in her first speech as Home Secretary to the annual Police Federation Conference, she stated that the job of the police was “nothing more, and nothing less, than to cut crime.” 

She was wrong. 

The job of the police is about so much more than just crime. It is about saving lives and finding lost children and responding to people in mental health crisis and dealing with car crashes and delivering unbearable news to families who have lost loved ones and ten...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
From time to time I have commented, often disparagingly, on the press/public relations department of the Ministry of Justice.  Latest figures on that department are that currently there are 31 employees at a cost of..........comprising employee salary along with employer pension and National Insurance contributions........£2,354,000. This represents 0.03% of the MOJ budget.

I don`t know how this compares with other central government departments but on the surface this F.O.I. answer appears to be less than I would have thought although with Failing Grayling doing his stuff at Transport MOJ staff have less hard work to do.  They only have to justify excessive closures of magistrates courts, fewer than needed magistrates and judges, elimination of legal aid, excessive trial delays and much else. 

Police: Knife Crime – A Five Point Plan

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

My phone has been ringing consistently in the last 24 hours – a succession of calls from journalists wanting to talk about Knife Crime, or to arrange radio and TV interviews to talk about Knife Crime. Prior commitments have meant that I’ve had to turn almost all of those requests down, but this is what I would have said given the chance:

(1) A Long Term Plan

We need a long term plan for dealing with knife crime – at least ten years, preferably twenty. We need to understand that, when problems have been a generation or more in the making, they might just take a generation or more to mend.

We have got to get beyond the relentless demand for quick fixes. The professional and effective use of police Stop & Search powers undoubtedly saves lives, but it is not the long term answer to anything.

(2) A Public Health Approach

We need to re-frame our understanding of violence, recognising that it is at least as much a public health issue as it is a crime problem. Violence is a disease that can be caught and transmitted....

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Over the last five years I have not been alone in castigating the "improvements" brought about by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Indeed quick use of the search box will indicate just what a catastrophe this incompetent man has been.  Reinforcing the fact that it was not a departmental failing of one sort or another today brings news of his ramshackle approach in his current job as Transport Secretary which has once more cost the taxpayers of the UK £millions.  The fact that Maymustgo (to employ a well used Twitter handle)  has kept this arrogant stupid man in position is yet just another facet of what the Brexit farce has brought us. He is an arch Brexiteer she dare not sack. This is politics today.

Police: A week of violence and tragedy

Written by RSS Poster CC Dave Thompson

This last week has been one of the most violent and tragic weeks I have seen in my police service. The violence and the loss of young lives has scarred families and communities across the region and specifically in parts of Birmingham. My thoughts are foremost to the families suffering this huge loss.

Chief Constable David Thompson

Chief Constable David Thompson

We have seen six murders over the last two weeks. It is important to say these are very varied and the offending, while having tragic results, did not in most of these cases bring danger to the streets or a broader public threat. The number has simply been chance and has some very specific circumstances.

The murders of Sidali Mohammed, Abdullah Muhammad and Hazat Umar are very different. They are part of a broader picture of violent knife crimes involving young people we have seen in Birmingham, our region and indeed in many of our cities across the country. I am sure parents and young people have been very scared by these events.

While these matters are pending proceedings or under...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
I offer just a few points of reference for today.

Prosecutions for road traffic offences have fallen by two thirds since 2010.  I doubt that driving standards have improved so much in that time.  The only possible explanation is that with fewer police on patrol fewer miscreants have been apprehended. The numbers are here

The government is totally to blame for the current shortage of magistrates. The number of two person benches is on the rise precisely because of the shortage. But in the true tradition of government obfuscation we are told no statistics are kept on these events.  This is ridiculous. It would take but an instant to note these numbers given that every case is associated with the names of those JPs who sat on the occasion(s) in question. 

For examples of how the nasally inclined public school accented women in charge of the magistracy are allowed to rant and divert attention from actual problems readers could do worse than spending an hour or so watching the recent meeting of the House of Commons Justice...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Last week the Guardian published a lengthy article on the demise of court reporting.  It is a fact based information piece that offers no solutions to the perceived deficit. However these facts do not tell the whole story.  As I have posted here from time to time there are regular all day as it happens magistrates courts reports countrywide.  Insert court reporting in the search box. 

There is no doubt in my mind that it is a matter of "when" and not "if" live TV webcasts of all our courts  are common place.  These of course would have to be funded by commercial means.  The argument most often promulgated against such broadcasting is that the medium would become more significant that the legal process.  We are told that witnesses and more importantly barristers would perform for the cameras. Similar arguments were made by opponents to the televising of the House of Commons. With the Supreme Court`s proceedings a regular legal fixture I look forward to the day when I can choose to view the daily happenings at my...

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