Thursday, November 15, 2012
British businessman who tackled burglar in his mother's home spends 18 HOURS in police custody for 'assaulting' intruder
A businessman who spent 18 hours in custody after he tackled a man who was raiding his mother's house says 'the law stinks.
Vaughan Jones, 39, from Bargoed, in Gwent, South Wales jumped into action when his widowed mother heard a thief burgling her family home.
He called police before dashing around to help his mother Eleanor, 65, and confronted the burglar in a hand-to-hand struggle. But the dad-of-three was left shocked when officers arrived and arrested him for allegedly assaulting the thief. He said: 'I couldn't believe it. I said to them: 'Are you real?'.
'I told them I was acting in self defence. When they took me to the police station, I said 'The law stinks'.
Ms Jones was roused by the burglar when a pebble was used to smash her patio doors. She called her son who found the burglar and grappled with him. But he was amazed when police arrested both him and the burglar when they arrived a few minutes later.
Mr Jones was then escorted to hospital under police guard and treated for a hairline fracture to his hand caused during the struggle with the burglar.
The accounts manager was then put in a police cell where he spent the night in custody.
And he was only released when the Crown Prosecution Service advised police not to press charges.
Gwent Police confirmed Mr Jones was arrested following the incident. A spokesman said: 'When officers attend a live, ongoing situation they often have to take quick and decisive action based on what they are faced with to defuse the situation, ensure the safety of all involved and to maximise opportunities to gather evidence. 'Further enquiries follow, enabling officers to establish a fuller picture of what has taken place.' [In other words, they've got the brains of fowls]
The incident comes after the Government unveiled plans to protect home-owners who are confronted by burglars. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said the 'public should be in no doubt' that the law is on their side during a break-in.
Police said a 29-year-old man from Caerphilly, South Wales, has been arrested and charged with burglary.
Justice Denied - Britain's Worst Retreat since Dunkirk
In my Mail on Sunday column last Sunday (11th November) I promised a fuller account of the scandalous downgrading of serious crime by the authorities in England and Wales ( I have not made a similar analysis of Scotland, which has its own separate legal system, but suspect something similar will be under way there). What was most distressing was to receive several personal confirmations of police uninterest in pursuing quite serious matters. The use of so-called ‘restorative justice’ to negotiate a supposed reconciliation between criminal (or in value-free jargon ’offender’) and victim is a growing part of this array of devices to reduce pressure on prisons, massage crime figures downwards and give the illusion of action.
Here is what I have found.
This country has not seen such a retreat since Dunkirk. Prosecutors and Police are in headlong flight in the face of a flood of crime and disorder unseen in this country since the Victorian era. And, just as at Dunkirk, skilled propagandists seek to portray the defeat as a triumph.
For some time, I have scoffed at official figures claiming that crime was falling. It is plain to anybody outside the elite cocoon of money and power that such a claim must be garbage of a high order. But as always, when the state has a monopoly of information, it was hard to show where the flaw was. Now, thanks to the brave and astute action of the Magistrates Association, some light has been shone on this dark place.
The story is enormous. In 2008 Magistrates began to suspect that a falling workload in the Magistrates’ Courts was a national rather than just a local phenomenon. The Magistrates’ Association tried to find out what was really happening. They were of course told there was a reduction in crime . The published statistics, of course, supported that.
Rather than accept what they were told (as so many people gullibly and acquiescently do) the Magistrates launched their own inquiry, using the Freedom of Information Act.
I regret that much of the information here is three years old or more, but it has (to my embarrassment and regret) taken me that long to get on to this story, which has been hiding in plain sight for anyone to pick up. My excuse is that at the time it first surfaced briefly, I was travelling abroad a great deal. I suspect that more recent figures would be even worse. The rape total given in my article of 11th November (higher than the one shown below) results from figures obtained since this report was written.
Its origins lie deep in the Blair Government which in 2001 passed the Criminal Justice and Police Act, a gimmicky measure designed to give the illusion of action. Its effects - and, I would suspect, its purposes – were quite different. Suddenly the police no longer had to take cases to court if they thought them worthy of action. In return for an admission of guilt, they could deal with them through on-the-spot penalties, a gross break with English legal tradition and a direct contravention of the Bill of Rights of 1689, but then nobody’s heard of that nowadays.
I am not sure exactly when the increased use of so-called ‘cautions’ a form of letting off without trial, and also with only a minor criminal record, was put into law. But that has also grown enormously
In practice, huge numbers of the informal penalties are never paid, so they end up being not very different from cautions(or the even weaker ‘cannabis warning’ introduced without Parliament’s permission discussed here many times) . But there’s another crucial detail. Once an offence has been disposed of in this way *it cannot be reopened*. The wrongdoer can own up to it (thus receiving a fine he probably won’t pay and a small mark on his criminal record. After that, it cannot be raised again.
We shall see why this is significant. For all of what follows I am indebted to Richard Monkhouse and the Magistrates’ Association, whose sceptical, inquiring spirit and hard work have uncovered one of the most interesting stories of our time.
They actually managed to stop the previous government extending the scheme to even more offences, though I should expect the existing government or the Lab-Lib coalition which will be in office from May 2015 will be back for more in time. After all, if you can’t reduce the problem, you can at least reduce the statistics.
Their document refers to OCDs (this stands for ‘Out of Court Disposals’). At the time of the survey, these were used for just over half all offences (54%) and thus of course make nonsense of official ‘sentencing guidelines’ which apply only to cases which come to court.
They include :
o Simple Caution
o Street Warning for Cannabis use
o Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN)
o Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND)
o Conditional Cautions
The document notes ‘…Magistrates were reporting serious concerns about the use of Out of Court Disposals (OCDs). At the Annual General Meeting [of the Magistrates’ Association] in Nov 2008 the following proposal was unanimously agreed :
‘This Annual General Meeting opposes the inappropriate use of out of court disposals. It contends that serious offences, including offences involving acts of violence, are being dealt with out of court to the detriment of the criminal justice system. It calls for the use of out of court disposals to be scrutinised to ensure that justice is being done and it urges the government to gather and publish detailed evidence on both the scale and consistency of use of such disposals in all areas of England and Wales.’
I quote again : ‘Magistrates Courts are open to the public, sentences are recorded and can be appealed, there is full scrutiny of the process, yet such disposals are not subject to such stringent procedure. In many cases there is a victim and they cannot receive compensation of a Caution, FPN or PND is administered - but they can in court. In addition almost 54% of FPNs [Fixed Penalty Notices] and PNDs [Penalty Notices for Disorder]are not paid and so come to court – but the court cannot deal with the original offence even if is a serious one. There is extra cost to the court system to administer the fine when the Home office has already had a budget for the process. Further the police are now accrediting non police officers to administer FPNS and PNDs and the government plans to extend the use of such disposal to Careless Driving.
The data indicates that the use of out of court disposals is neither consistent, transparent nor open to public scrutiny’
Remember, these are the words of Magistrates, responsible, concerned, sober, respectable people with no political axe to grind. I have seldom seen such strong feeling in a document from such a restrained group of people.
Plans for secret justice in Britain left in turmoil
Plans for a major extension of ‘secret justice’ are in fresh turmoil today as MPs and peers insist ministers have still failed to justify such a ‘serious departure’ from Britain’s constitutional traditions.
An influential cross-party committee said that despite a string of concessions, the Government has not made a convincing case for new powers to allow more court hearings to take place behind closed doors.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights said all the evidence it had received - apart from that of the Government - suggested the proposals would mean a ‘radical departure’ from ancient principles of ‘open justice and fairness’.
In a report published today, it suggests the Government will have difficulty getting the legislation through the House of Lords and will lead to calls for it to be dropped altogether.
The report on the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow judges to listen to more civil cases in secret without claimants being able to hear the evidence against them, raised concerns about the potential for the reforms to be used by the state to avoid ‘embarrassing situations’.
Committee chairman Hywel Francis said: ‘We were disappointed that the Government failed to prove to us a pressing need to extend the use of secret evidence into civil proceedings generally.
‘The Bill represents a very significant shift away from historic common law principles and Parliament should only accept such a departure when the necessity for it has been properly and persuasively justified.’
The Daily Mail has led criticism of Government plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.
Defendants or claimants will not allowed to be present, know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has forced the Government to make a number of concessions, including abandoning the idea of extending secret justice to inquest hearings.
But critics say the proposals still represent a fundamental breach of traditional principles of open justice, and accuse the Government of allowing the security services to dictate the legislation.
Spy chiefs were deeply embarrassed by civil court claims against them by terror suspects, which had to be settled out of court rather than having sensitive intelligence material discussed in open hearings.
Ministers claim they are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on settling claims, some of which may have no merit, because it is unable to contest them as the evidence it would wish to produce is so secret that it cannot be revealed in an open court.
Sixteen terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, received payouts last November after they claimed they were mistreated by US and British security and intelligence officials.
But critics and civil rights campaigners say the proposed reforms will create a ‘secret justice system straight from the pages of a Kafka novel’.
The committee criticised Home Secretary Theresa May for refusing to allow even special advocates - security cleared lawyers who can work in secret courts - to have access to information so they could assess whether secret trials were necessary.
That would have provided the ‘best evidence’ available to Parliament about whether there ‘really exists a practical need for the provisions’, the report said.
MPs and peers said it was ‘unsatisfactory’ ministers had not told them how many civil damages claims involving sensitive national security information were pending.
They ‘remain unpersuaded’ the Government has shown there is a significant and growing number of cases in which a closed material procedure was ‘essential’, the report added.
The committee raised concerns about what information would be classified as ‘sensitive’, warning it could be used to avoid ‘difficult or embarrassing situations’.
It said only UK intelligence material that could reveal the identity or techniques of UK intelligence officers or foreign intelligence material provided by another country on a strict promise of confidentiality should be deemed sensitive.
The committee called on ministers to revise the Bill to give courts a ‘genuine discretion’ on whether a closed material application may be made and if a claim for public interest immunity could have been made.
Australian politicians make calls to end the secrecy of the Sacrament of Penance
The privacy of the confession is an ancient church canon and breaching it would largely destroy confessions. Politicians can spout all they like but will have no influence on church canons. Priests may not reveal what they have learned during confession to anyone, even under the threat of their own death or that of others. The paedophile priests should be severely dealt with but attacking penance solves nothing.
The Catholics concerned below are just covering their behinds. They are not faithful to the teachings of the church. But, then again, nor are the paedophile priests.
And the references below to His Eminence as "Mr. Pell" seem deliberately insulting. Is "Cardinal Pell" too much to expect?
Senior federal Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has declared that priests should report child sex abuse crimes revealed in the confessional to police.
On Wednesday, Mr Pyne - who is a practising Catholic [He needs more practice] - said that as a member of Parliament, it would be wrong of him to advise citizens not to report crimes, particularly something as serious as child abuse. "If a priest, or anyone else, is aware of the sexual abuse of children that is going on, I think there is an obligation on them to report it to the appropriate authorities," he told ABC Radio.
On Tuesday, in the wake of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a royal commission on child abuse, Cardinal George Pell said that the seal of confession was "inviolable".
Mr Pell said that if a priest knew what would be confessed prior to the confession, then they should refuse to hear it.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said on Wednesday that it was important that she did not have a position on particular issues that were going before the commission.
"We really want the commissioners appointed to be able to explore every issue that they feel they need to," she told ABC TV.
But she also said that the commission needed to look at institutional barriers to reporting child sexual abuse, noting that it was a crime.
"I think the whole community finds that idea [that priests would not report abuse] really abhorrent and we've been through these debates for mandatory reporting for doctors, teachers, for others that [are] meant to be in close relationships and nevertheless have been required to make reports, so I think we really need to look carefully, there aren't a different set of rules that apply."
Ms Roxon added that it wasn't just priests who didn't report but other adults in other school or institutional communities. "A lot of people knew and somehow the system still failed those children," she said.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said that everyone has to obey the law when it comes to reporting child sex abuse, including priests.
"There are various requirements on people if they become aware of sexual offences against children," he told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday. "Those legal requirements must be adhered to."
In Australia, mandatory reporting requirements differ between states and territories. For example, in South Australia, the confessional is exempt from mandatory reporting. In the Northern Territory, "any person with reasonable grounds" must report.
Under the NSW Crimes Act, a person must disclose knowledge of a sexual assault or risk being charged with concealing a serious indictable offence, but priests are one of a small class of occupations that cannot be prosecuted unless the Attorney-General consents.
On ABC Radio, Ms Roxon cautioned that the royal commission would take "years, not weeks or months".
Ms Roxon said that when the terms of reference were set later this year, there should be "proper report-back", so the public could be updated along the way.
Cabinet Minister Bill Shorten has said the royal commission must address the controversial issue of whether priests should be legally compelled to report evidence of abuse they hear in the confessional.
Mr Shorten, who strongly urges a general system of mandatory reporting, said: "What immunity can you claim when it comes to the safety and protection of little children? "When it comes to the abuse of children, that privilege, if it ever had validity, is well and truly exhausted."
New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell, a Catholic, has also questioned confessional privilege. He said he struggled to understand how, "[If] a priest confesses to another priest that he has been involved in paedophile activities, that that information should not be brought to police."
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu supported mandatory reporting but said there had been "a separate issue" about the confessional. This would be looked at by the Victorian inquiry into abuse and he expected it would be raised through the commission.
Mr Shorten said Victoria police supported mandatory reporting and state law should be changed to bring it in. Police should not be obstructed by institutions failing to report matters, and it was important institutions understood that internal processes were no substitute for police investigation.
Mr Shorten said his own strong views had been influenced by the fact his family had for years attended the Sacred Heart parish in Oakleigh, served by notorious paedophile priest Kevin O'Donnell. He said thousands of Australians had been victims of sexual abuse, "and too many haven't received a real apology, atonement or recompense".
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, 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.