Friday, 10 August 2012

Goldring is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

I'm in no way convinced that elected Police Commissioners are the answer to the problems with policing in Britain today - I still think a new Royal Commission is needed to make the changes to return the police to a Peelean force of citizen constables, locally employed and locally accountable. However, it's at least a step in the right direction. What is absolutely extraordinary and utterly misguided is Lord Justice Goldring's ruling that JPs will not be able to remain as magistrates if they stand for office. It betrays a complete misunderstanding of the role of the office and an unacceptable judicial bias toward a central, Statist criminal justice system. 

I can understand a ban on full-time, salaried members of the judiciary being barred from standing; Goldring's comments make sense when applied to High Court, Crown Court and District judges. However, merely because District judges share a jurisdiction with lay magistrates is no reason to exclude JPs. Many will see in this a further move by the Lord Chancellor's department to run-down and abolish the local magistracy in favour of full time DJs. 

It is precisely because magistrates are ordinary people rooted in their communities that they are the most capable authority to serve the lowest tier of the criminal justice system, disposing of 95% of criminal cases. They have done so in England since the 13th century. They were also ideally placed to license pubs until Blair's inane binge-booze reforms gave that function to councils. The old Police Authorities used to have magistrates sitting as by right - and indeed as the local bench would see most officers prosecuting minor cases, it was an entirely proper relationship for the local bench to have some influence on the way the locality was policed.


G. Tingey said...

Comment (not mine) from another blog - the subject was espionage, but it still applies:
"The trouble is that if you place poorly paid public servants in the vicinity of extremely rich criminals - and, or, vastly wealthy governments - and then bombard the wrenched public servants with a steady stream of contempt and freeze their pay then corruption will creep in."

So, everyone, doe we want a minimalist state?
If so, do we pay those in its' employ well.
Because, if you don't, you know what will happen!

Re. Magistrates.
There is also the problem of local prejudice, and local corruption and Masonic dealings, as well.
It's complicated.
No, I don't have an answer - just pointing out the difficulties.

Elby the Beserk said...

Some magistrates. Not all. Those who convicted my stepdaughter did so on the grounds of prejudice, not the law. She speaks well, and was privately educated. When her case went to appeal, the presiding judge used the evidence the magistrates used to quash their conviction, and noted that they seemed to have no understanding of the law as applied in my stepdaughter's case whatsoever.

Restoring Britain said...

For me the the Police Commissioner thing looks like a bit of a red herring and a suitable distraction.

The real flaws seem to lie in a combination of sentencing policy, the CPS and the prison system. Amongst my friends who are serving officers they describe the CPS as standing either for Couldn't Prosecute Satan or the Criminal Protection Service.

The system does not present a meaningful consequence for a life of crime. There is no deterrent that would cause them to feel the risk is just not worth it. Added to that there is clearly a challenge in getting the system to take on crime from a prosecution perspective. We have all heard cases in which the police can have you bang to rights but the rest of the system will not reflect that.

I don't see how elected police commissioners will change that. Unless they have a hand in sentencing and prison policy they will simply be the stooge which has the largest target on their back when the blame game starts.

Back in 1997, a certain party which went on to take the seat of Government announced that as part of their plans for law and order, would make sure that every member of the public would know who their regional crown prosecutor would be. Of course for some reason that never came to fruition did it? You don't have to be a genius to wonder why it disappeared as a notion. Elect these people and you might see something slightly different, not least the fact that you wouldn't see chancers like Prezza standing.

Of course to fix sentencing and prison policy we have to fix the outside influence of the Human Rights act.

Oh we find ourselves back at the EU once again don't we?

G. Tingey said...

Restoring Britain
Sorry, the Human Rights Act - based on our 1689/99 legislation is NOT an issue.

What is an issue is the way in which it has neen misused and misrepresented.

MEanwhile the cops are arresting innocent peole for thoughtcrime:

( Also appears in Daily Nazi, oops, Mail, so it isn't just the Groan that's execised about his insanoty. )

Anonymous said...

I had hoped/thought that the Police Commissioners would be Joe Public/business men/retired army men, but it appears it is going to be politicians Labour/Tory/Lib-Dem, thus nothing will change. What I wanted was a police force that was answerable to the people they served and not Whitehall or some civil servant who lives in Surrey.