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, November 20, 2008


By coincidence, several of our courts were slow to get started yesterday, so like proper JPs we got ourselves coffees, sat round the big table, and gossipped. Well, grumbled, actually.
"Have you seen the papers?" asked Nigel. "It seems that two serious speeding offences will get you banned in future". Snorts of derision, and a comment of: "Just like now, then" came from across the table. Others chipped in with the fact that (as Any Fule Kno) the Guidelines (remember them?) issued a few months ago suggest (as did their predecessors) that serious speeding should attract six points, and that 2 x 6 = 12, and twelve points equals a totting-up ban. So why are the papers full of it this morning? Of course it's spin, and like most spin it covers up the real agenda. Currently the police only ticket the relatively low-end speeders and send the serious Toads to court. The new plan is to allow FPNs to go up to 6 points, and, if I read aright, for police/CPS 'Prosecution Teams' to issue driving bans without the expense and inconvenience of a court hearing. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Then Pam chipped in with: "What about the idea of prosecuting men who 'knowingly' use prostitutes who are under the 'control' of a pimp?" "What's the chance of the CPS proving Beyond Reasonable Doubt that Joe Punter knew, or asked, whether Olga or Ludmilla was working on her own account or for nasty Sergei?" We rapidly formed a consensus that very few, if any, convictions would result.
At this point a couple of clerks appeared to say that their cases were at last about to start, and we drifted off to our courtrooms.
What is it coming to when socially-aware, trained and responsible JPs have been driven to such cynicism? There is only so much spin and bullshit that can be directed our way before some of us begin to question what the hell we are doing with our time. In more than two decades I have never seen Bench morale so low - because if we don't feel trusted or respected by the Government we shall not trust or respect it in return.