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.

My Photo
Location: Near London, United Kingdom

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Back To The Future

When I first joined the Bench it was usual for a police sergeant to prosecute low-level crimes, and a constable to deal with lesser traffic cases. That all stopped with the introduction of the CPS. They started off using lawyers, often Counsel, but over the years they have come to do most cases themselves, appointing 'lawyer-lite' Associate Prosecutors to do the simpler stuff. HM Revenue and Customs prosecutions are now handled by the CPS, so this work has gone from being presented by warranted Customs officers, to Counsel, to CPS staff lawyers.
I recently sat on a Proceeds of Crime Act forfeiture application and was surprised to see that the applicant was a Met Police Detective Sergeant. The case was well prepared and the respondent who had had his cash seized managed to give three differing accounts of the money's origin; one when the police searched his home, another in interview, and a third in the witness box, so we had little difficulty deciding on the civil standard of the balance of probabilities that the cash was recoverable property.
After the case was over I asked the officer if we were likely to see police officers doing more of their own court work, at least in PoCA cases, and he said that was indeed the case, as it worked out a lot cheaper than using a lawyer. So the wheel has almost gone full circle, in a couple of decades.