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, March 07, 2012


The reliable core of hardline contributors to our comments are to a man (or woman) convinced of the value of, and need for, deterrence to prevent offending and reoffending. Of course deterrence can work - I would not dream of parking in a location where I might be clamped any more than I would consider shoplifting, that would have different but devastating consequences for me - but I have often pointed out that for someone to be deterred they must possess rational reasoning and thought processes. Drink and drugs, taken in sufficient quantity, will often blank out any deterrent effect, leaving the user to do things that are not just wrong, but manifestly against his own interest. Others simply do not connect actions with consequences, and these people fill our courts every day.

That brings me to Adam, a man in his early forties who could easily pass for 65. I do not know what has brought him to his present state, but his brains are truly scrambled to the extent that he cannot even remember his address. He is an unpleasant nuisance to the local community, prone to urinate and defecate in public irrespective of who might be watching. Inevitably he was given an ASBO a couple of years ago that has entirely failed to deter him; he has breached it nine times and has served numerous shortish prison sentences, sometimes reoffending on the day of his release. ASBO breach can carry up to five years at the Crown Court, and he has indeed been committed there a few times for sentence, receiving up to six months inside. And the entire process has been utterly useless in preventing him from carrying out acts that disgust innocent civilians. Many thousands of pounds have been spent on processing him through the courts and locking him up in a system that simply isn't meant to cope with the likes of him. His problem is more one for the NHS than for the prison service, but there is simply nowhere for him to go, and no money to provide any help.

In his case deterrence is simply pointless. Incapacitation, by locking him up away from the public obviously offers a short term solution, but it is an expensive and inhumane way to deal with a wreck of a man.