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, February 04, 2009

Odds and Ends

I keep a jotter on my desk to make a note of ideas for blog posts, but so many smallish things have occurred lately that I haven't kept up. Here's a few samples:-
Wandsworth Prison advises prisoners always to lock their cell doors because there are thieves around. In-cell TV costs 50p per week to rent. If you misbehave you can't have one. Basic allowance is 50p per day but you can earn more or have money sent in by family. Those whose religion calls for the use of incense sticks and the like can buy them from the canteen. Naughty people use them to cover up the smell of cannabis. Basic visiting allowance is two half-hour visits every 28 days. If you want to buy a stereo you can, but you have to order it through Argos, who are unlikely to stuff them with drugs, unlike friends and relations. A mobile phone is worth about £500 inside. Up to three of them can be concealed in someone's back passage. The charger goes in too, but the plug is removed (phew!) as the wires can be attached to the cell lighting or TV power supply. A cell for two is about 13 feet by 7 feet. There is an (often unscreened) toilet at one end, and the windows don't open.
On the street there is an epidemic of forged driving licences and TfL taxi driver permits. Often a ringer takes the test using fake papers.
A local alcoholic has just breached his ASBO for the thirteenth time, and he has received yet another prison sentence. On release he will take his discharge grant straight to the off licence.
A young man in his early twenties agreed to help a friend by carrying some cocaine, in return for a bit of money. He now faces ten years or so, and his family, who were at the back of the court, were distraught - his mother in particular, was inconsolable.
There is a department store in the shopping precinct near my court. Cosmetics are the main target, as are Duracell batteries, and fancy Gillette razors.
Domestic Violence trials take up a lot of court time, but a high proportion of them collapse, usually because the victim refuses to give evidence.