The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cautionary Tale (2)

This letter to The Times tells the story of a respectable citizen being subjected to what appears to have been a gross overreaction by police officers. The writer says:-
After nearly four hours of processing and questioning I cheerfully admitted the “offence” in order to terminate this tedious ordeal, get back to Waterloo and resume my journey to Paris. Having signed the necessary forms, I was released on caution.
This points up the inherent danger of so-called pre-court diversion, a policy which the Government is enthusiastically expanding. In order to get on with his journey the man concerned has accepted his guilt, and now has a record on the Police computer to that effect. His DNA fingerprints and photographs are now on file. Since the offence was connected with taking so-called offensive weapons on to a train he may face some tough questioning next time that he wants to enter the USA.
If a respectable and articulate retired Brigadier can be bounced into an admission of non-existent guilt by a desire to get out of the police station, how much more likely is it that a not-too-bright 18 year-old will do the same? Any bench that I can imagine would have given this case short shrift - indeed I rather doubt whether the CPS would have let it get near the court.
Courts are not just there to punish - they are also there to protect the citizen from oppression. In this case they were not given the opportunity to do so.