Go through with your threats

I was court duty today.  I was sat in court minding my own business when I heard the judge mention my name.  I hadn't been listening since I wasn't involved in the case and I'd decided to actually read at least one copy of the Guardian, which I subscribed to on a whim about a month ago and haven't accessed since.

Anyway, I somehow feel that I may be straying from the point.

Turned out that the judge was trying to fathom why the defendant hadn't attended either of his appointments with probation for a pre-sentence report to be prepared and she was asking me to speak to him.  The judge made it clear to the defendant that unless he could explain why he failed to attend to the appointments satisfactorily she would remand him in custody to allow the report to be prepared.

I took him outside and tried to explain the seriousness of the situation; however, he continually told me that he missed the appointments because a close relative went into hospital a week ago.  I asked how that could possibly be relevant since the missed appointments were long before the hospitalisation.  He tried to avoid the point by constantly talking about irrelevant things and claiming that he didn't understand etc etc.  It's worth noting that during the period he'd been unable to comply he'd managed to continue running his own business without a problem, so there's a limit to how far I can believe that all the problems he talked about really prevented him attending a one hour meeting.  The man refused to engage with me and ultimately there was nothing I could do to help him.

Back in court, the judge seemed to have forgotten all about what she had said before and released the defendant for a third probation appointment.

What happened to the threat of immediate imprisonment unless he explained himself?  I do think that defendants and toddlers have some similarities in that if a judge or a parent threatens a consequence if their orders are not obeyed then they should be ready to go through with their threat or risk losing the power of their threat.  If defendants know that they can openly disobey court orders with impunity then why would anybody bother complying?


  1. I quite agree. I often remind people who fail to attend for interview that :"reports impracticable on bail" is a valid reason for a remand I/C. And when the time comes. I will do it.

  2. I frequently [with the authority of my colleagues of course] put a compliance with probation condition on post conviction bail when a PSR is requested thus effectively increasing the deterrent effect.

  3. Alas it is disappointing to see that the lack of follow through is not limited to parents that feel they should love their kids through it all or don't want to bother. I had hoped that this particular lapse was not expanding in this fashion.

    If you do not follow through with the threat once uttered, next time you can talk yourself blue in the face, they will naturally assume it will just be this episode repeated.

    Mores the pity, as then your into escalating consequences, because you have just cancelled out the power of just threatening next time.

    I fully realize people are busy, however, in the long run your going to be even further behind as next time, a mere talking to, will just be wasting your breath. Pity.

  4. The arrogance of lawyers and judiciary may predispose them to the curse of some brain destroying virus yet to be isolated.

  5. Thanks Anon. At least us arrogant lawyers have the bottle to say what we think in public. Got a problem? Then stick your real name on your insults... coward.

  6. Well no need to worry soon we won't be arresting people committing crimes we will be too busy helping G4S share holders make profits.

    Winsor the independent review of the police services.

    So independent that Tom Winsor will be appointed the head of the HMIC.

    So independent that Winsor recommends privatising the police service.

    So independent that his law firm helped G4S acquire the pilot of privatised policing in Linconshire.

    Low and behold modern policing, the private security firms first. Profits before public service.

    By all means modernize our pay I like all the recommendations about our pay cinditions.

    But for the love of god keep policing public not private.


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