Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome Back, Sergeant

Apparently the Police, in the formidable shape of the Custody Sergeant, are to be given back the power to decide on charge in summary cases - and that means the great majority of cases. I feel pretty relaxed about that; for most of my time on the bench I have dealt with cases that had passed through the hands of that almost-invariably sensible group of experienced Sergeants, and it has worked pretty well. The CPS, that was nominally independent when set up, has become just another layer of management in the police station and because of their status as civil servants prosecutors have often been over-cautious and target-driven.
One of the joys of the old regime was spotting the cases where the Sergeant had obviously had a quiet night, so spent his time flicking through his dog-eared copy of Moriarty's Police Law in the hope of being able to dig out some obscure but still-legal Victorian enactment with which to charge his man. The Town Police Clauses Act (of whenever) used to crop up, along with the Vagrancy Act, the many and varied Licensing Acts and all kinds of obscure stuff. I look forward to a resumption of normal service and the end of CPS box-ticking.

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