Monday, July 23, 2012
Think of cost before bringing charges, British prosecutors told
I don't agree with Keir Starmer across the board by any manner of means. He is well to the Left of me. But this is the first sign of sanity I have seen from the British CPS in a long while: Long overdue, if I may say so. Wasteful and foolish prosecutions have been all too common in recent years. See the article immediately following this one for a glimpse at the existing robotic mentality
Suspects may in future escape prosecution if lawyers calculate it would be too expensive to bring them to trial. For the first time Crown prosecutors will be told to consider the cost of bringing home a conviction before they lay charges.
A guide produced by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer warns that there should be no criminal charges brought when a suspect is likely to face only a light or token punishment. The new rule, which says that prosecutions should be proportionate, raises the prospect that junior gang members could be let off rather than brought into a complex trial alongside their criminal leaders.
It could also have been used by prosecutors to avoid bringing Chelsea football captain John Terry to court. Terry was cleared last week of racism over a confrontation on the pitch with Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand. But since Terry could have faced a maximum punishment of a £2,500 fine, a prosecutor might have judged that the expense of bringing senior lawyers and large numbers of witnesses to court was too high to justify.
The introduction of the proportion test would be the first major change to the basis on which criminal charges are brought for nearly 90 years. Until now, prosecutors have had to decide whether to bring criminal charges after making two basic decisions. One is that the case has a better than even chance of resulting in a conviction, and the second is that a prosecution must be in the public interest.
A consultation paper about the new code sent out yesterday said that under the ‘proportionate’ element, prosecutors must consider ‘the cost to the prosecution service and the wider criminal justice system, especially where it could be regarded as excessive when weighed against any likely penalty.
The draft code added: ‘Cases should be capable of being prosecuted in a way that is consistent with principles of effective case management. ‘For example, in a case involving multiple offenders, prosecution might be reserved for the key participants in order to avoid excessively long and complex proceedings.’
The rewritten code – which is under consultation until the autumn – will also include new guidance on how the credibility of evidence should be assessed, a ‘streamlined’ approach to deciding whether a prosecution is in the public interest, and questions for prosecutors to consider about the seriousness of the offence, the culpability of the suspect, and the impact on victims.
Mr Starmer said: ‘Proportionality is about ensuring that we and the police are choosing the right cases to prosecute from the start, and doing so in the most effective way. ‘There may be cases – for example where a court might convict a defendant but decide not to record that conviction by giving an absolute discharge – where police officers or prosecutors might anticipate that a prosecution is not a proportionate way to approach the criminality.’
Six-month ordeal of schoolboy, 15, accused of assault for 'throwing snowball at teen girl'
What is wrong with these cretins? Their priorities are insane. Many serious offenders are simply "cautioned" by the police and never see a courtroom
A mother has demanded an apology from the Crown Prosecution Service after her 15-year-old son was put on trial for throwing a snowball in the face of a teenage girl. The teenager was charged with assault by beating and has been dragged to court five times since the February incident.
His ordeal until only ended on Thursday when magistrates ruled there was no case to answer and threw the case out.
Yesterday, the boy's mother said she was furious at prosecutors for ever bringing the case and denied her son had even thrown the snowball.
The woman, who cannot be identified to protect the anonymity of her son, said: 'The past six months have been a nightmare for my son, with this ridiculous prosecution hanging over him. 'We were so relieved when the magistrates said there was no case to answer but we are angry it ever came to this.
'God only knows how much this prosecution has cost the taxpayer. We've been told it's many thousands of pounds. What a waste of money.
'My son has been treated like a criminal and for what? A snowball that may or may not have been thrown, may or may not have hit a person and in any case was not thrown by him.'
The maximum sentence for an adult convicted of assault by beating is six months in custody, and the Ministry of Justice said the penalty remains the same for youth offenders - although magistrates would be more likely to take account of a defendant's young age and mitigation when sentencing at a youth court.
The teenager was arrested at his home the morning after a teenage girl complained he had thrown a snowball at her at a local recreation area.
The boy's mother, who lives with her family in a village near Leicester, added: 'He's only a young boy and was frightened. He was kept in a cell all day and all night.' She said her 'jaw dropped' when he was charged with assault by beating and appeared in court the following day. The court imposed bail conditions which included a 7pm to 7am curfew.
The family attended court sessions on five occasions, including a trial at Loughborough, in March, when the case was adjourned.
At Thursday's Leicester Youth Court hearing, the teenage complainant and two other witnesses gave evidence.
But none could be sure the boy, who had been having a snowball fight with a friend, had targeted the complainant. After listening to the prosecution case, magistrates ruled there was no case to answer.
His mother added: 'The whole thing has been totally stupid.The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should have never sanctioned this prosecution.' She said she wanted an apology from the CPS.
Speaking after the case, the boy said: 'I just want to put all this behind me now and get on with things. The past six months have been horrible.'
A CPS spokesman said there had been 'clear evidence the complainant had been deliberately targeted and that this was more than just a youthful snowball fight.'
He added: 'The evidence, including two witness statements, pointed to the fact the defendant had made and thrown the snowball and made comments of a hostile nature afterwards. 'This, coupled with the fact that the complainant was recovering from a serious eye injury, meant a court should be asked to judge the case.
'If, however, during a hearing, evidence by witnesses appears to fluctuate from the statements provided, a court can determine there is no case to answer .'
Guidance issued by the Sentencing Council says custodial sentences for juveniles should only be imposed in the most serious cases.
A spokesman for Leicestershire Police said: 'The incident was fully investigated and the evidence put before the CPS to decide if charges should be brought.'
In March last year, Dean Smith, 31, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, was handed a two-week curfew after he admitted assaulting a woman Police Community Support Officer by throwing a snowball.
Olympic Games symbolism is steeped in fundamentalism, militarism and fascism
Guess who began the tradition of the Olympic torch relay? His initials were A.H.
THE Olympic Games are creepy. Sure, their creepiness isn't immediately apparent. We have grown familiar with the pageantry that surrounds this sporting carnival. But there's more to the Olympics than swimming, shot put and badminton.
The Games are steeped in ritual, all of which is designed to promote an unsettling ideology. They are unlike any other international sporting event. Games officials talk of an Olympic movement, an Olympic spirit, and an Olympic ideal. Its five-ring logo is imbued with a quasi-mystical significance. It even has its own ceremonial calendar: an Olympiad is a period of four years. It's hard not to conclude that the Olympic Games are a religion, and a bizarre religion at that.
The opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics is this Friday. The official protocols dictate it will feature a sacred torch, which will carry a sacred flame, which will light a sacred cauldron. The flame is supposed to represent purity - flames come from the sun and are untainted by our material world. When the Olympic torch was lit in a Greek temple in May, there was a ceremony of dancing priestesses and men dressed as heralds performing feats of strength.
The flame ritual will be preceded by a symbolic release of pigeons. An Olympic flag will be raised. A hymn will be sung. There will be oath-taking. These rites are all very purposeful. The founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, said its basic idea was to convert athletics into "a religion, a cult [and] an impassioned soaring".
So the entertainments and frills of the opening ceremony obscure just how odd all the Olympic rituals are.
It is really only when totalitarian states host the Games (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980, and Beijing 2008) that the cultish elements of the Olympics are fully assimilated into the opening ceremony.
For instance, what we call the "parade" of athletes around the ceremony would really be better described as a march. Coubertin was explicit about the militaristic elitism of the Games. He wanted to showcase "an army of sportsmen". Olympic athletes are the peak physical specimens of all the world's nations. They are young, fit and virile. In Coubertin's view, physical perfection was a sign of moral purity. He wanted athletes to devote themselves to sacrifice and an "ideal of a superior life".
No surprise when the Nazis hosted the Games in 1936, Coubertin embraced them. Berlin was the culmination of his life's work. It was the ultimate display of ceremony and strength. Olympic ceremonies still combine a sort of fascist symbolism with Cirque du Soleil-style choreography.
Yet the International Olympic Committee is proud of Coubertin. Our Australian committee even has an award in his honour, handed to the secondary school students who best epitomise the values of the Olympic movement.
No doubt the students don't understand how strange those values are. Presumably they believe the Olympics are focused on peace and global harmony. Because if there is one thing Olympic officials do well, it is soaring speeches about all the good they are doing for the world.
Jacques Rogge, the current Olympic president, told the United Nations in 2007 that "in a world too often torn apart by war, environmental degradation, poverty and disease, we see sport as a calling to serve humanity". An earlier president, Avery Brundage, pronounced in 1968 that "the essence of the Olympic ideal maintains its purity as an oasis where correct human relations and the concepts of moral order still prevail".
Their words are cheap and self-serving. Brundage made his lofty claim just five days after the Tlatelolco massacre, where the Mexican government killed dozens of students protesting the Mexico City Games. Rogge gave his speech in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, described recently by the dissident Ai Weiwei as nothing more than propaganda for the Chinese Communist Party.
Their words are so cheap that in 1995 the Olympic committee even tossed "sustainability" into their charter. Not content with saving humanity, they wish to save the planet. It's not clear how flying 10,000 athletes around the world every four years will achieve that goal. The sustainability platform is almost like a deliberate joke. And it reveals just how vacuous the Olympic ideal really is.
The Olympics do nothing to achieve global harmony. They arguably work against it. If harmony was the goal, athletes would compete as individuals, not on behalf of nations.
Do the Olympic ideologists honestly believe the nonsense they spout? The Games are a taxpayer-funded cash cow for all involved, and that's probably motive enough for many. Yet Olympism offers a sense of mission. It's not like the World Cup or the Commonwealth Games. The Olympics is a cause. It is a full-blown belief system.
Rogge said in his UN speech he wanted to place "sport at the service of mankind". Maybe he does. But right now, sport is serving the weird ideology of the Olympics much more than humanity.
Australia: 'Dangerous' NSW mum wins back stolen kids
It's appalling that a mere opinion can lead to such punitive official action
ROBBED of her beloved kids and branded a "dangerous" mum, a NSW woman has spoken of her joy of being reunited with her daughter after nine years of separation.
For 19-years, the mother struggled to keep her family together as childcare authorities were hellbent on tearing them apart.
But her courage and conviction has finally won. The baby "stolen" from her 23 days after she entered the world in 2002 is safely by her side.
The youngster has spent her life in foster care after childcare authorities believed the mum suffered from the discredited condition known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy in 1993.
"I've been waiting 10 years to bring my baby home," said the elated mum, who has requested not to be identified for the childrens' sake. She was labelled with the condition, in which mothers harm and even kill their children to gain attention, after her second-born son failed to thrive. Her next two children were removed as well.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward told The Sunday Telegraph she was pleased the matter had been resolved, but has demanded an explanation from her department.
"This will help my understanding of the events which led to the removal of these children," said Ms Goward, who made representations on the mother's part when she was in opposition.
With three children removed between 1993 and 2002, the woman went on the run to give birth to a son in December 2003 to avoid detection. Authorities made the child a ward of the state in her absence and when she was tracked down in October 2008 in Moree, they removed the boy who was then four.
After an 18-month court battle, the boy was returned to his mother in April 2010 and has lived with her ever since.
The two older children are grown up and no longer wards of the state. Her nine-year-old daughter had expressed wishes to be returned to her real mother and after her foster carer relinquished care, the child was returned.
"She gets in bed with me in the morning and says: 'I'm so happy', it's just beautiful',' the woman said.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy was coined by British paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow.
It was discredited in 2003 after Meadows' evidence wrongly jailed three women for murder.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.