Friday, May 03, 2013

At Last

I have previously said that I have never seen a case of prostitution, either because there isn't any on my turf, or because the police deal with it other than by an arrest.
Now that we are part of a larger Criminal Justice Area, we are getting a bit of  Street Offences work coming through, and yesterday we were faced with two Eastern European women in their early twenties who had been picked up after failing to take advantage of the cautions offered by the police. Neither had any previous convictions (neither spoke English either) so we fined them, and then deemed the fine served by the night they had spent in custody. In case you are interested, whatever they were offering (and we were not told) was available for thirty pounds.
As I was driving out of the car park I saw them sitting on the steps of the courthouse, enjoying the sunshine along with a cigarette.

25 comments:

  1. There was once a stipe called St John Harmsworth, a bit of a character (euphemism for stark staring mad) who sat at Marlborough Street. He always took the prostitutes first, so that they could get some sleep before they earned the fine.

    I once heard him refuse bail on 31 December to a man whose reaction was "Up your f*cking ring, Squire!" to which he answered "and a happy New Year to you too!"

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    1. Wow there's a blast from the past, good old Harmsworth had as much character as us flypitchers who appeared in front of him on a daily basis, bless him, he knew we was only working to feed our kids and treated us fairly..... Hope ( but I doubt) he's still alive as I have very fond memories.

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  2. Another cash seizure in the offing, methinks, when/if they travel back home. Still, it makes a change from pole-dancing...

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  3. Do you ever wonder 'is there any point to this?'. Seems that for minor crime we have little more than an expensive make-work scheme for police/CPS/Probation and Magistrates that achieves practically nothing. Could we not go back to the days of Sir John Fielding - the methods may have been just as ineffective but they seem to have been cheaper, quicker and dare I say more amusing.

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  4. What was the fine ?

    IIRC in my world (not your jurisdiction) time spent in police custody does not count towards fines being 'paid'. I'm confused what you thought you achieved. Whilst I have quite a lot of tolerance for that type of offender the law makes it illegal and surely expects the courts to impose sanctions on those who don't comply...

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  5. This happens on a daily basis in courts across the land. Something like £100 is usual, plus the surcharge. The offender has suffered the inconvenience of arrest and detention, often for a day or more. Fine deemed served is a pragmatic and sensible disposal, and far preferable to imposing a fine that will never be collected.

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  6. The questions are why they are doing it, and who profits. Prostitution is quasi-industrial along the ex-N9 between Montpellier and Perpignan. Not sure I'm grateful it's outside our jurisdiction.

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  7. Interestingly refusing to pay a fine of £100 (here at least) would get you 7 days custody...
    The pragmatic response is of course logical, and I had forgotten that you don't have Admonition as an option down south - but you do have the conditional discharge option. Certainly a fine seems illogical as how will they pay it? Probably by more prostitution!

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  8. Over here (Germany) it is legal :-)

    Don't mention the whore!

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    1. 'Brothel' based prostitution is de facto legal in England, in that the police will never trouble you. Google 'escorts Milton Keynes', or look at this one in Leicester:

      http://goo.gl/maps/RHu65

      The whole building, on a main commuter route, is painted bright pink for goodness sakes! This is not something that is done under the radar. Isn't it time there really was a grown up debate in the UK about this? I'm not saying I'm for or against but the current law is a disgrace.

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  9. rex_imperator5 May 2013 at 16:54

    Gosh, doesn't this get complicated. In my (oops, an area near me) neck of the woods the Justices Clerk has ruled that "deemed served" in these circumstances is not lawful. The offense itself must be imprisonable. A fine can of course be imposed on such an offense and then time allowed for payment (which may be minutes only in the case of east Europeans with a dodgy address). Then one has to determine whether there is willful refusal or culpable neglect to pay the fine. On such a finding, the appropriate period of imprisonment can be imposed, which may be one day. One may then take the view that remaining within the precincts of the court until the later of the close of business or 4pm is the way to deal with that. Mags are advised there is no power to consider time spent with the police as credit. I know that many courts have been doing this for years, but seems there is now a new regime. A retrograde step methinks.

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  10. Pragmatic disposals such as this have long been used by having recourse to the (fictional) Ways and Means Act. A fine imposed with the accompanying question "can this be paid immediately?" and a meaningful look at the solicitor usually does the trick.

    It's also a way round the more stupid outcomes of the "victim" surcharge. A 13 year old had assaulted her mother (again) and the outcome required a surcharge to be levied, but of course in practice it would have been the mother, the victim, who had to pay it. I realise that you couldn't make it up, but that's what happens sometimes nowadays with ill-thought through measures. Incidentally, I seem to remember some guidance somewhere that in the case of a youth with no means, one could order it to be paid when he or she became 18. Would anyone in their right mind think that a sensible course in the case of a 13 year old?

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    1. There was a ruling a few months ago, I think it came from the Appeal Court but I could be wrong about that, to say that as it wasn't right for a victim, in this case the mother, to pay the surcharge for the assault she suffered, a youth court can now, if appropriate, refuse to impose the victim surcharge. Your legal adviser should have the details.

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  11. "In case you are interested, whatever they were offering (and we were not"

    Really? You can sentence an offence without actually knowing what it was?

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    1. Yes, the offence was soliciting for prostitution (or some such, I can't remember now). The precise service offered was not mentioned, and didn't need to be. They pleaded guilty anyway.

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    2. I was given to understand (though this was some time ago and things may have changed) that prostitution isn't in itself illegal, but that many of the ways in which prostitutes link up with their clients are - sometimes for both them and their clients, as in kerb crawling. So, in that sense the services offered might not be the offence, and hence the precise nature of them may not have troubled the bench...

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    3. If I recall the details correctly, a canny LA 'down our way' threw a spanner in the works by 'innocently' asking whether 'persistence' had been duly made out by the issuance of at least two "prostitutes' cautions" prior to charge, as required under s16. As the CPS was unable to demonstrate this, the individual walked free. Your reference to 'refusing a caution' is interesting in this respect (prostitutes' cautions differ from other police cautions in that they don't require any admission of guilt). The caution referred to may of course have been a standard police caution. I hope they had access to proper interpretation and legal advice at the police station.
      Kate Caveat

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    4. I'm still not sure I quite follow this. If someone was convicted of (say) theft on a guilty plea, surely you wouldn't be able to sentence that without some idea of what they'd stolen, from whom, and under what circumstances?

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  12. The surcharge for youths is a problem. One way to get round it: if you award compensation as the only sentence then the surcharge is not payable. That might have been a good solution to the problem Alan describes.

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    1. Possibly - except that the mother in question may have been perplexed at having to pay herself compensation. But I agree that that's better than having to pay a "victim" surcharge when as the victim she would have seen the last of it.

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  13. This a bit surreal. Why didn't they take the cautions? Did they then plead Not Guilty, or refuse the caution but plead guilty - which seems perverse and may indicate that the police did not explain their situation to them in a manner they could understand.

    (I understand that in Moscow street prostitutes are required to clean the police station as their "punishment".)

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  14. SouthLondonJP7 May 2013 at 14:03

    My very first case as a wet behind the ears CPS prosecutor back in the mid 1980's was a 'living off immoral earnings' case. Just a sentencing job. I went mightily red when I realised that what I had started to read out to the highly amused bench was the price list. I got as far as £10 for a mild spanking before giving up in embarrasement...ahhh those were the days...

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  15. If they didn't speak English how were they going to offer their various services? I suspect they did and also that a large number of those for whom we spend a lot of public money to get interpreters also do. It's often interesting to see the expression on the face of a defendant as they listen to the English and before their interpreter has woken up to the fact that they should be interpreting.

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    1. There are a good handful of foreign languages in which I've been able to manage some basic commercial transactions, but I still wouldn't fancy standing trial in any of them without an interpreter.

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  16. Can the VS be remitted or lodged?

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