Achieving Justice in a Conservative World?

This thought-provoking post by The Secret Barrister lays bare the cynical manipulation of government finances under this new Tory Leadership which seems to be throwing around unimaginable sums of public money as if the magic money tree had been hit by a blonde wigged hurricane.

Compassionate Conservatism

If you think this Government is a government for the people as they claim then this might open your eyes. Still, they sorted out Brexit for us didn’t they?

Severely disabled 64-year old man found starving to death – while billionaires get tax cuts

I am dismayed at the malevolent vindictiveness of this Government and its policies.

Pride's Purge

These photographs and this status was posted on Facebook by a law adviser on Christmas Eve:

Please spare a thought for this 64 year old severely disabled client of mine? Please share this post to see if we can garner a response from the Tories although, I doubt we will. 
My client was thrown off ESA by ATOS 18 months ago. Since then, he has been expected to sign on. Obviously, he’s been sanctioned and forced to go hungry. so much so he weighs 6 stone. On Friday, not surprisingly he was at death’s door with pneumonia. Fortunately, I was able to get him into hospital.Evidently, his left lung was full of fluid with his right not much better, he’s now on the mend.
He has been unable to heat or look after his home properly because his health has deteriorated which I suggest is obvious from the photographs…

View original post 79 more words

DWP tells grieving mother to find job 3 days after death of young child: “grief is not an illness”

Apalling!

Pride's Purge

Posted on Twitter by an NHS GP:

Dear @DWP,

When a distraught mother has lost her young daughter, please can you tell me why you wont accept “grief reaction” as a sick note diagnosis? Telling a grieving mum this is not an illness is extremely insensitive. You have also wasted NHS time.

3 days after her daughter died, she got call from the DWP saying did she realise she couldn’t claim Attendance Allowance anymore & had to sign on Job Seekers. Mother panicked & found herself at a job interview the following week – at which she broke down in tears.

She phoned me in a state on way home from the interview. I was horrified they had put her through this. I’m so upset by it all.

Welcome to Theresa May’s Britain.

View original post

What Price a Special Relationship?

Here's what US lobbyists want Donald Trump to get from a trade deal. Big firms want Donald Trump to play hard ball over the NHS, food quality and consumer rights.
SOURCE: HuffPost http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/us-lobbyists-brexit_uk_5c5b26c6e4b00187b5579f64?ncid=other_email_o63gt2jcad4&utm_campaign=share_email

Post by Joanna Hardy: Court closures and the cost of losing local justice

The idea of living in the converted entrance hall of Acton Magistrates’ Court would surprise most lawyers. It used to be a sad place. Chewing gum used to cling to the floor, tackily collecting a thousand stories. The waiting-area seats groaned whenever a defendant rose to tell the local Magistrates why he had stolen the bicycle, punched the man or skipped his railway fare. The graffiti in the toilet documented the rights and wrongs of many stories and sub-plots. Defendants, victims and their respective families filed in to see justice being dispensed, case by case, crime by crime.

It was the turnstile of local justice.

Living in a converted Magistrates’ Court is not cheap. In 2017, the going rate was around £1.4 million. “Be the judge of this three-bedroom home” quipped a property article, “sleep in what used to be the grand entrance hall of Acton Magistrates’ Court”. The chewing gum has, presumably, gone and been replaced by a “rooftop terrace and steam room”. It looks happier now.

Acton might be at the start of the alphabet, but she is not alone in her dramatic makeover. Brentford Magistrates’ Court is now a luxury building that retained the cell area for trendy bicycle storage. Old Street Magistrates’ Court is a fancy hotel where you can “have a tipple” in the spot the Kray brothers once stood.

Time and again the sites of local, gritty justice have been transformed into luxe properties with corresponding price tags.

Recent figures reveal half of all Magistrates’ Courts have closed since 2010. Those pursuing local justice are increasingly finding that it is not very local at all. Courts are being consolidated and warehoused into larger centres spread out across the country. Community justice now needs to hitch a ride to the next town.

The benefits of justice being dispensed within a local community are keenly felt by those involved. For better or for worse, defendants can sometimes lead difficult, chaotic lives. Someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs is unlikely to make a cross-county trip by 09:30am. Someone dependent on state benefits might not prioritise a peak train ticket to their court hearing if they are budgeting to feed their children. Their delays will cost society money. It might cost complainants and witnesses their time and a considerable amount of anxiety. If a defendant does not turn up at all then stretched police resources may be diverted to locate them. The community suffers.

Victims and witnesses might also struggle to make an expensive, time-consuming trip to a far-flung court. Those with childcare or employment responsibilities might not be able to spare an entire day to give evidence for twenty minutes. In some areas, the additional distance may cause witnesses a real discomfort and unease. There have been suggestions that some courts are so poorly served by public transport that witnesses and defendants could end up inappropriately travelling together on the same bus.

The benefits of local justice are clear in the day-to-day running of our courts. In some local cases, police officers still attend bail hearings. Put simply, they know their beat. They know the shortcut alleyway behind the pub, the road that is notorious for teenage car racing, the park where trouble brews. Their local knowledge helps to improve the practical decisions of the courts and to keep society safe.

The neighbourhood officer joins a long list of local benefits. Youth defendants attending a courthouse in their community can go back to school or college after their hearing. That preserves a shred of stability during a chaotic time. Probation officers sometimes know repeat offenders from earlier court orders or programmes. That helps with continuity of services including mental health, drug and alcohol treatment – often being coordinated by a GP down the road. Magistrates themselves are regularly drawn from the immediate geographic area. A community problem emerging at a particular football stadium, pub, school or street then attracts a consistent approach and a local focus.

Our justice system will be immeasurably poorer by the aggressive, short-sighted contraction of our court estate. Local knowledge, neighbourhood agencies and community justice have been gambled for large court centres making rulings from afar. The inevitable delays will waste public money. Complainants and witnesses will be inconvenienced. Police officers will be stretched. Decisions will be made in far-removed buildings distanced (in more ways than one) from the real crime on our streets.

The next time an advertisement surfaces for a luxury converted “Courthouse” building we ought to remember the real value of community justice and how much losing local courts might cost us all.

***********************************

My thoughts on this

Absolutely true. As a retired magistrate I watched as our regionalised administration sought first to close local courts and then, when this was resisted, starve those courts of work, creating sub-regional centres for motoring offences, slipping AGP courts to just one or two in a county.

At the same time a growing culture of police cautions removed much of the day to day work from Magistrates Courts under the guise of efficiency even for violent crimes.

When I began my 20+ years of public duty my Monday morning court list could easily top 100 charges. Now we are lucky if it hits double figures. So many are dealt with ‘administratively’ by our clerks (sorry ‘legal advisers’) that many magistrates have resigned rather than operate a revolving rubber stamp process.

Some magistrates see a sinister motive behind this, the replacement of a local volunteer-led judiciary with paid (‘stipendiary’ – remember that term) District Judges. It became obvious in our courts that anything requiring more than a simple processing of ‘guidelines’ was reserved to the District Judge.

Putting aside the historical value of the magistracy, local justice is vital in dealing with local crime patterns, the knowledge of local magistrates invaluable in understanding criminal activities. Ask any judge who has sat on appeals with two magistrates about their value.

The Secret Barrister

I am delighted to host this guest post by Joanna Hardy of Red Lion Chambersarticulating better than I can the appalling legacy of the Ministry of Justice’s continued selling-off of our courts. 

*******************************

The idea of living in the converted entrance hall of Acton Magistrates’ Court would surprise most lawyers. It used to be a sad place. Chewing gum used to cling to the floor, tackily collecting a thousand stories. The waiting-area seats groaned whenever a defendant rose to tell the local Magistrates why he had stolen the bicycle, punched the man or skipped his railway fare. The graffiti in the toilet documented the rights and wrongs of many stories and sub-plots. Defendants, victims and their respective families filed in to see justice being dispensed, case by case, crime by crime.

It was the turnstile of local justice.

Living in a converted Magistrates’ Court is not cheap. In…

View original post 670 more words

How do you Solve a Problem Like Syria?

Let’s suppose every single allegation against Assad is true. The fact of the matter is that the world is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and it’s causing major division and conflict across our societies. Few are willing to say it, but if the ultimate aim of our policies is to put an end to... Continue Reading →

There’s no Law Like an Old Law

The Law Commission has proposed a 'clean sweep' of old sentencing law which it says could save more than £250 million in a decade by avoiding unnecessary appeals and sentencing delays. The commission, which published its code today, says judges have to deal with more than 1,300 pages of law filled with 'outdated and inaccessible' language. The... Continue Reading →

The Real Reason America Dropped The Atomic Bomb. It Was Not To End The War

I was watching TV this morning and saw an article about the time the UK Government decided to test atomic bombs on the Yorkshire village of Skipsea. What is horrific is that the Government decided not to tell Parliament about it. They had got as far as building bunkers and control systems before the word... Continue Reading →

Guilty as Predicted

Did you ever watch the Tom Cruise movie 'Minority Report'  based on a short story by the excellent science fiction writer Philip K Dick?   The idea is that in the year 2054 hidden away in a deep dark jacuzzi is a trio of mental whizz brains who can predict a crime before it happens and... Continue Reading →

Advertising Standards?

Posters of a woman tied to train tracks in an advert for high-speed trains were not promoting violence against women, a French court has ruled. The poster shows a woman screaming at the camera with her hands bound and rope around her torso and feet. It is captioned: "With the TGV, she would have suffered... Continue Reading →

16th August 2017

Dear diary... Today was a full day at court with both sittings in what is known as a 'Gap' court. This indicates that all the cases anticipate a guilty plea. My cough held off to allow me to chair he court with two excellent wingers. A sizeable proportion of the morning cases involved driving with... Continue Reading →

Diary – Arms for the Harmless?

The day before yesterday two unarmed police officers were shot dead while on a routine call on a house in Hattersley.   Police knew about the alleged murderer and had interviewed him previously.  The estate had been raided weeks previously.  Did no one think to tell these two poor plods about the potential danger or was... Continue Reading →

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: