Archive for December, 2013

If you’re looking for a tempered, adult review of the new Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA), then please, check out this most excellent post on the Justice Gap by Penelope Gibbs

http://thejusticegap.com/2013/12/new-asbos-attack-civil-liberties-young/

However, if you’re looking for an irreverent, bordering on childish review of the IPNA, then do read on…

The ABSI – anti social behaviour injunction – is soon to be laid to rest. As is it’s famous brother the ASBO – the anti social behaviour order. And instead is to be replaced with a variety of exciting sounding orders, Community Protection Orders, CRASBOs, Public Spaces Protection Orders. The list is endless.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are going to be clad in protective orders when you leave your home.

And the best of these orders is the IPNA.

Ah yes, for no longer will you be caused nuisance or annoyed, and if you are? To the County Court, an injunction, and the threat of contempt of Court for those who dare break their IPNA.

What’s that I hear you say?

We’ve heard it all before

The ASBO was supposed to prevent people leaving their dog mess and children playing football on non-FA approved premises. But, it failed. Children are still seen on the streets. The elderly are asked to donate to charity by people wearing onesies. Just this very morning Mrs Jones from number 42 was asking for signatures on her petition about the leisure centre, again.

How will these fiends be stopped?

Never fear, Theresa May is here! They will be stopped with the IPNA.

You see, the ASBO, it’s too liberal. The most recent Labour Government (known for their mild stance on criminal justice and unswerving commitment to civil liberty) were too soft.

For an ASBO one had to prove that a person’s conduct was likely to cause ‘harassment, alarm of distress.’ Forget that, too difficult, too high a threshold. The coalition laugh at that puny test. The IPNA, it’s new, it’s streamlined, it’s easy to get an order.

Now! The test for the IPNA is:  is conduct “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”

Ah yes, we’re getting somewhere. Mrs Jones, you’re going to get served, you annoy me everyday with that damn leisure centre petition.

Also, big problem with ASBOS was the standard of proof. You see, you had to prove, to the criminal standard, i.e beyond reasonable doubt that someone had committed anti-social behaviour. Yawn. As an Oxford jury once said: ‘we’re sure there’s a doubt, we’re just deciding whether it’s a reasonable one.’ ASBOs required evidence to make the Court imposing it, ‘sure’ that a person committed ASB. It’s such a high threshold, and requires things like evidence.

Never fear! IPNA IS HERE. That boring, feisty old high standard of proof has gone. The coalition have brought is crashing down.

Low, low, thresholds of proof

Forget proving it beyond reasonable doubt, now, just on the balance of probabilities. Is it more likely than not that Mrs Jones annoys me? HELLO.Bang

And don’t you worry, all those pesky lawyers won’t get in the way. The coalition are taking IPNAs and planting them firmly in the County Court, no duty solicitor to cry to when you breach your IPNA, no no, you’re going to JAIL. No legal aid, no liberals are going to stop these. It will be Judges who decide who gets an order, proper ones too, no Magistrates messing things around.  (oh, apart from in the case of those under 18 – that goes to the Youth Court – weird huh – never mind. And appeal from the Youth Court is to the Crown Court – even weirder)

Bang and the dirt is gone

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s going to decide arbitrarily who is naughty or nice

It’s actually, amazing, an annoyance free life. I’ve been reading the Bill, section 1, IPNAs can be made against anybody 10 or over. Not too shabby, that’ll get the kids playing football at the end of the street.

Now with all this good news, there has to be some bad. And that’s section 4 of the Act. You see, private individuals can’t apply for IPNAs. Shame huh?

It’s fabulous, the police will be able to get injunctions against those smelly protestors and the council against those dog walkers on the green.

And it’ll just be so easy. That’s the best thing.

But it’s still broad, all you’ve got to do is get someone to listen, local authority, housing authority, police, TFL, even the environment agency. Don’t worry, I’ll write to them all about Mrs Jones from number 42.

Get your shares in G4S now, we’re gunna need more prisons

In 2010, Theresa May complained that ASBOs didn’t work, in particular they put people (especially young people) on a ‘conveyor belt’ to prison. Looking at this Bill, it’s just a licence for two things: (1) local authorities to answer banal, low level complaints with complete overkill, (2)  the police to injunct/enjoin people from doing annoying but perfectly lawful things: i.e peaceful protest.

The net result is that your liberty is threatened again.

And when it is threatened it seems highly unlikely that there will be any legal aid there to provide for a lawyer.

Contact your MP now.

FTD

 

 

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It’s now such a farce that one must feel sorry for the Met.

2013 has been an absolute kicking for the Metropolitan Police. #Plebgate is nothing compared to the Mark Duggan inquest. And, the Mark Duggan inquest is mild when one considers the admissions that Doreen Lawrence was the victim of a police led smear campaign.

At the same time, the Met’s PR department, sorry ‘communications’ department, has gone from 150 to 100 members of staff. Despite the disasters, one of their PRs was promoted to the head of PR for Surrey Police.

The crisis in police PR was such that  in October, Henry Porter described police corruption as ‘rife’ and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had to promise to be ‘ruthless’ in rooting it out.

Stories have filtered through the robing rooms that the public, in particular some juries, have not reacted well to police malpractice. One story filtered through shortly after the ‘Watson’ settlement (defence lawyer locked up unlawfully – not the Met of course), one jury was heard repeatedly to say that they wouldn’t believe a word the police said.

And that’s really the PR problem. At present it is only certain communities which really are entrenched when it comes to distrusting the police. But, the wider community have no tolerance for the Doreen Lawrence type scenario.

‘Us and them’ is fatal to any police force that seeks to police by consent. And any other model of policing would never be accepted in a liberal democracy.

It’s in the context, of all this that I was recently asked about my, ‘policy’ toward police instructions. Quite simple, I will defend an individual officer, I won’t defend the institution (i.e I won’t act for police forces.)

I understand that the upper tiers of the institution do not reflect the reality of what goes on at the grass-roots. And despite the positive noises, the public are starting to realise the same.

In 2013 I’ve had two very conflicting experiences of the same police force. One morning, my car was broken into along with two of my neighbours. I didn’t call the police, my neighbour did. Two response officers attended, they were polite, interested and respectful. Then a SOCO turned up, she was even better. And, then, the DC assigned the OIC was very good too. In my view, the best PR the Met can get.

Later in the year it was a rare foray back to the Mags’. I was defending a private client on a minor matter. Three officers attended, there was an air outside the Court straight away. Slouching, exasperated huffs, attempts at staring me out and the Defendant. (I point out, this wasn’t even an assault PC job or similar…). There was even a touch of childish whispering.

I’d been on the receiving end of this plenty of times before in the Mags (there’s rarely senior officers around or officers knocking about from specialist, ‘high respect’ squads as you find in the Crown Courts of London) and ignored it.

After the first witness gave evidence, there was a break, I walked outside, and instantly, I find one of the police witnesses talking to the witness. A full blown conversation. I couldn’t believe it. I told them to stop it, another officer, the OIC, made some remark I couldn’t hear, but was clearly full brush of attitude.

The officer who had spoken to the witness, got in Court, I put to him that he had been having a conversation with the civilian witness – ‘no, just told him I wasn’t allowed to speak to him’. I had been there, close enough, I knew that wasn’t true.

And when that officer lied, that to me had more of an impact than Plebgate, Duggan or Doreen Lawrence. That was an affront.

I know that we don’t live in a Capital city where all the police are bad. That’s why I will represent individual officers.

I am convinced that those 100 Eddie Monsoons would be better replaced. With 50 good coppers in professional standard and another 50 good coppers training up those who don’t meet Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s gold standard.

Sweetie, darling, where’s the squad car…. from absolutely fabulous, to absolutely warrantable, constitutional, legit…

I revisit my opening again, it’s such a farce one must actually feel sorry for those good officers in the Met. But, those officers, those good ones must help pick out the rotten apples too.

FTD