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 28, 2008

Assault on Police

A couple of people have asked me to comment on this report from the Telegraph. I wasn't there, and I didn't see the evidence, so I can only talk about the general principles involved.
The Bench will have looked at the Guidelines - you will find Assault Police on page 15. New Guidelines come in to force next week, and can be found here, but they will not have applied to this reported case.
The entry point is custody for a first-time offender pleading not guilty. I do not know if this man had previous, but I assume that he pleaded guilty, although the article is not clear. The court did impose a custodial sentence, having found that the offence passed the custody threshold. They found themselves able to suspend the sentence, with a requirement to pay compensation, and from the Chairman's remarks it looks like the court took account of the defendant's family circumstances. We are always careful in the use of custody, and some of us are especially so where the defendant is working, as a steady job is one of the best ways to discourage reoffending. If this was a guilty plea, that may have pushed the sentence just far enough down-tariff to allow it to be suspended. It is fair to assume that the officer's injuries were relatively minor, as he was only given £60 compensation, but I stress that this is pure supposition on my part.
One final thought: this offence is summary-only, and once the Act now before Parliament becomes law there will be no power to impose a suspended sentence. I wonder which way the bench would have gone if that were the case here?