Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

It will be two years tomorrow since I made the first tentative posts on this blog. Since then we have had a gratifyingly large number of visitors, and a steady stream of comments ranging from the congratulatory to the abusive. I have left alone abuse directed at me, but tidied or deleted that directed at other posters. As an aside, I am fascinated to see how a minority of people can infer from some remark of mine that appears to them to be over-liberal (or - less often - over-strict) an entirely fictional picture of Bystander the man and Bystander the JP. If I suggest that the behaviour of some police officers or prosecutors is less than perfect, then I am immediately branded as being the thugs' friend, smiling indulgently as old ladies are battered for their pathetic belongings, and then sentencing with a light hand to a discharge here and an small fine there. If I suggest that the Mr. Toad lobby are misguided and selfish in their opposition to speed enforcement, then I become an out-of-touch old duffer.

2007 is going to be yet another challenging year. The Government has not lost its appetite for legislating, and there is as yet no sign that they have taken on board the lessons of previous ill-considered and over-complex law that has in some cases had to be abandoned after Royal Assent but before being put into practice. The Courts' Service is still in upheaval, as the introduction of HMCS less than two years ago was swiftly followed by drastic financial stringency. As a result we now have a confused and sometimes demoralised staff who are taking limited industrial action. Many of them do not know if they will have a job in six months' time, or where that job will be located if they do have one. So-called Community Courts are being trialled in a number of areas, but based on the cheaper Salford model rather than the gold-plated Liverpool set-up which proved, to no-one's surprise, that if you throw enough money at a project it can work fairly well.

Whatever happens, today and tomorrow and for the rest of the year crimes will be committed and people will be brought before the courts. My colleagues and I will deal with them without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and in accordance with the law, rather than the nudge-nudge of politicians or the ranting of the tabloid mob.

Happy New Year.

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