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So. Farewell then Bystander...

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 15th June 2017 at 12:59 - Posted in Police Blogs

We're very sorry to say that Bystander (real name Richard Bristow) died at Stoke Mandeville on June 4, aged 70. He was a Justice of the Peace at Uxbridge from 1985 to 2016,  and was the first chairman of the West London Local Justice Area. He'll be sadly missed by family and friends, but not by the villains of Uxbridge, Ealing and Hounslow.  He was fond of quoting this passage from the Seven Ages of Man speech:And then the justice,In fair round belly with good capon lined,With eyes severe...
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Back to the Ranch

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 13th April 2017 at 23:54 - Posted in Police Blogs

In the six months since my retirement from the bench I have not had cause to visit the courthouse. This week, however, I volunteered to show some local people around the building, and I was agreeably surprised to find that I still remembered the pass code for the car park. Our visitors were very interested and full of questions, which reminded me of my very early days as a JP when I found out just how little people knew about the court and its workings. That was a prime reason for my starting a blog...
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New(ish) Stuff

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 09th February 2017 at 21:32 - Posted in Police Blogs

A friend recently asked me to cast an eye over a summons she has received for a speeding offence. She was going too fast for a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty, and was duly reported. She is going through the Single Justice Procedure, which is a new one on me, but I expect that it consists of one JP sitting alone with a clerk, dealing with the simpler cases. In days gone by I used to sit alone on Saturdays when I could usually expect about ten or fifteen cases, mostly remands or discharges....
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Dog Days

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 21st January 2017 at 12:23 - Posted in Police Blogs

There was a news item this week about the sentencing of some people who organised dog fights, with large sums wagered on the result. I saw one such case a few years ago, and it needed a strong stomach to look at the evidence. The fight took place in an abandoned farm building and at the end the whitewashed walls were heavily bloodstained. We simply remanded the two defendants, and my colleagues sentenced them a few weeks later after reports were prepared. The aggravation was considerable; organised...
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In The Nick

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 26th December 2016 at 10:40 - Posted in Police Blogs

Prisons are in the news again, following recent outbreaks of disorder. This is an excellent piece from the TelegraphI have been to Hollesley Bay a couple of times; it had a completely different culture from closed prisons such as the Scrubs, with a target of getting inmates ready for work on release.

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Supreme Chicken?

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 07th December 2016 at 16:56 - Posted in Police Blogs

The Supreme Court is now considering a crucial case that will clarify the power of the judiciary vis a vis that of Parliament. Many of the country's finest legal minds will focus on this matter, and a verdict will be handed down. In the long tradition of European matters dividing our nation, some unscrupulous parties are attempting to discredit the Courts, in particular by focusing on individual judges and any perceived bias they may have. This is an appalling piece of vandalism, the worst offender...
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Out of The Ordinary

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 22nd November 2016 at 21:05 - Posted in Police Blogs

The right-wing fanatic who is accused of the murder of Jo Cox MP has opted not to give evidence nor to call any witnesses in his defence. The jury will be directed by the judge as to how to deal with this.He is of course perfectly entitled to remain silent, just as the jury is perfectly entitled to draw the inferences that it finds proper from his decision. In times past courts sometimes had to decide whether the accused was 'mute of Malice' or 'mute by Visitation of God'.This is a situation that...
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Joined Up?

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 22nd November 2016 at 20:45 - Posted in Police Blogs

According to the news on my radio today there are calls to make the wearing of military decorations that have not been legitimately earned punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. Of course we must treat our old soldiers with dignity and respect their awards, but is this really a sensible use of the scarce and costly prison system?Since I joined the Bench in 1985 the prison population has soared to its current 85,000 or so. Posing as a decorated old soldier is more sad than evil, and there is no...
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Priorities

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 15th November 2016 at 12:19 - Posted in Police Blogs

I am afraid that my mind has slipped off matters legal today, since my new granddaughter Martina was born at 1am GMT  today, in Bogota, Colombia. Congratulations to parents Matthew and Tata.

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Fancy Having A Go?

Written by RSS Poster Bystander on the 09th November 2016 at 22:07 - Posted in Police Blogs

The MoJ's planning for recruitment to the bench is no better than their usual planning, unfortunately. When I was sworn in in 1985 I became one of about 29,000 JPs in England and Wales; today the Bench is more like 19,000 strong, the drop being largely due to the increase in out-of-court disposals such as fixed penalties and cautions. In the meantime numbers have gone up and down, and during the years of amalgamating benches just over five years ago there was a virtual freeze on recruitment for some...
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