Friday, August 12, 2011


It's been another night when courts have sat to deal with those arrested in connection with the riots. A couple of thoughts occur:

The great bulk of the cases have been handled by District Judges. Some lay justices' noses have been put out of joint by this, but it was probably inevitable, firstly because professionals with no other commitments are easier to deploy than lay benches, and a word from the Chief Magistrate is an easy way to achieve a degree of consistency.

Many of those arrested have been refused bail. Expect a flood of fresh bail applications, as two are allowed in the magistrates' court, and thereafter application may be made to a Circuit Judge. Nevertheless given the weight of numbers those incarcerated may face some time inside.

We had to allow a trial date to be vacated yesterday as the CCTV evidence wasn't ready and the available specialists are all up to their ears processing riot footage.

The papers are already fuming about younger offenders 'walking free' because they do not understand, and do not want to understand, the constraints on dealing with the young in court. All but the most serious offences have to be dealt with in the Youth Court with its maximum power of (I think - it's not my turf) a two year Detention and Training Order. For the youngest, if they have no previous convictions, a Referral Order is about all there is. Frustrating as this may seem, there is a perfectly good principle behind treating the young differently and keeping them out of the adult justice system.

Here's an informative piece.

And here's another.

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