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.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Courts Day By Day

Here are a few things I have noticed in the last couple of weeks:-

Legal Aid continues to cause delays in getting cases started. In the case of someone who is self-employed it can easily take a fortnight to assemble the required information.

Far fewer people are nowadays being granted Legal Aid. Those who pay privately and who are either acquitted or have their case dropped get their costs back from central funds, but these are of course at the private client rate, which is far higher than the legal aid scales. Those who planned the reforms appear not to have thought of this, and it will erode the potential savings.

We don't always have to order a pre-sentence report before sending someone to prison, so long as we are satisfied that we have enough information before us. The fact that someone has just driven while disqualified for the eleventh time counts as enough information.

The Prison Service claims that it de-toxes several times more people per year than the NHS. Unfortunately there is no follow-up, so many drug users head for their dealer as soon as they get out.

A JP who deals with cases from a major airport tells me that there are several hundred people who live semi-permanently in the terminals, a high proportion of them mentally ill or addicted.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Vietnamese nationals in prison, almost all of them for growing cannabis.

Many Chinese illegal immigrants are jailed for destroying their passports en route, but nobody knows what to do with them on release because China refuses to take them back.

I have seen quite a few Harassment allegations in my time, only two of which were for the classic stalker type of offence that the law was meant to deal with.

Brixton Prison stands in Jebb Avenue. Major Jebb invented the radial prison design that allows supervising officers to see right along the wings from one place. Pentonville was the first such to be built.
Wormwood Scrubs stands on DuCane road, named after General DuCane who built it. He used mostly prisoner labour and the bricks were dug and fired on the site which accounts for the deep cellars below the wings.
Pentonville is the busiest prison in Europe in terms of inmate movements with over a hundred going out each morning and over a hundred (not necessarily the same hundred) going in at night.

A man who specialised in plundering hotel car parks was found to have six Mercedes sat-nav heads, and the proper tools to get them out quickly. Who buys them? They are certainly not a do-it-yourself item to fit as Merc electronics are notoriously complex.

A man who had a row with his partner took an axe to household fixtures to express his frustration. I hope he felt better afterwards, because we awarded compensation of over £6,000 to the housing association that owns the house. That works out at around £600 per minute of temper-time.