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Police: Black & Blue

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

These days, I find it incredibly difficult to watch video footage of confrontation involving police officers. Too many memories I suppose.

Yesterday though, I caught sight of the clip that was circulating on social media – of a black father being tasered by police officers in front of his young son. I could only watch it once – and once was almost too much. 

I found it enormously distressing – for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because of the child. The image of him kicking his little legs in obvious distress as the officer picks him up has been playing on a loop in my mind.

Before I go any further, I should make clear that I’m not going to offer any comment on the specific police actions shown in the film. Given the fact that there’s an independent investigation underway, it would be enormously irresponsible to do so. In any case, I wasn’t there. And I’m not taser trained. And I don’t know all the facts. Trials conducted in the ten-second-court of online opinion have never been a good idea.

But neither can I ignore...

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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...

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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...

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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. 


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...

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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...

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Police: Extraordinary People. Extraordinary Job. Extraordinary Times.

Written by RSS Poster policecommander

I want to tell you a short story about a group of extraordinary people, doing extraordinary things, during these extraordinary times. You might not have heard of them before.

If you were to meet any of the police officers (from the Met, City of London Police & BTP), firefighters and NHS staff who are members of London’s Pandemic Multi-Agency Response Team (PMART), they would no doubt try to tell you that they aren’t extraordinary at all. I suspect they would say that they are just doing their job. They might even make reference to that precious, old-fashioned thing called duty. Even so, I want to pause for a moment to acknowledge and salute them.

Each afternoon in recent times, we have been faced with the latest heartbreaking headlines – an update on the number of those who have died in hospital from Coronavirus. The official total is fast approaching 20,000, and behind every number is a name. A family. A story. But what the published total doesn’t include is the number of those who...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
During the riots of 2011 instructions to me and my colleagues from the Deputy Justices Clerk were that where defendants were facing either way charges they must be sent to the crown court for trial.  I did not observe that order and on at least one occasion my  bench accepted jurisdiction.  With the corona virus trashing so many of our legal, business and social activities the Ministry of Justice after a somewhat inauspicious  beginning is organising the early release of some carefully chosen prisoners.  However it occurred to me as I presume it has occurred to others outside the judiciary that it is not unlikely that similar "advice" as that detailed above to me in 2011 has been whispered to sentencers in the lower court that every attempt should be made to avoid immediate imprisonment of offenders even although only around 3% of offenders suffer immediate custody in that court. These examples from Sheffield seem to be such an indication. Now that some magistrates courts are closed to the public and reporters also...

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Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace
Owing to current circumstances there is a dearth of interesting cases or controversial events upon which it is worth my commenting or you, dear reader, reading. But what is worth a few minutes, is that for those old enough to have watched the original shows of Who Wants to be a Millionaire 20 years ago and to have watched the ITV three parter "Quiz" based upon the notorious case of the coughing major who was convicted of cheating his way to a £1,000,000, is the comment by the "Secret Barrister" on the court and other legal scenes.   

I must admit to having missed one or two of the points she has made.  I would hope that practising criminal lawyers missed none.


Written by RSS Poster The Justice of the Peace


"a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics".

"sometimes referred to as identitarianism, is a political approach and analysis based on people prioritising the concerns most relevant to their particular racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, social, cultural or other identity, and forming exclusive political alliances with others of this group".

I doubt many will argue with the above definitions.  The term has been in use in various forms since the 1960s or 1970s, but has been applied with, at times, radically different meanings by different populations.  It is likely that as with so many now popular labels this one originated in America and primarily as a vehicle for black Americans to vocalise the rights as citizens they felt had been undermined by the white majority. In such a diverse society it quickly became a useful tool for Hispano...

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