Showing posts from November, 2018

Does the current law protect police drivers who use force to stop motorcyclists?

The Metropolitan Police – that’s the one’s in London if you didn’t know – have released a video showing their officers using police cars to ram moped and motorcycle riders from their bikes. Watching the video with no context you could be forgiven for concluding that these are unreasonably heavy handed tactics that put lives at risk; however, police officers who I trust to know about these things have told me that these tactics are only used to end protracted chases where members of the public are put at risk and to catch the most dangerous offenders. The police conduct risk assessments as events are unfolding both by officers involved in the pursuit and by senior officers back at the police station monitoring events.
This post is not about whether those tactics are right or wrong, instead I want to look at the potential legal consequences for police officers taking these actions and what, if anything, the law can do to protect them.
Ramming other vehicles off the road is not something…

Guilty until proven innocent?

A couple of years ago the government introduced a new system of bringing prosecutions in the magistrates’ court, called the Single Justice Procedure Notice (SJPN). This procedure allows the police to initiate prosecutions more speedily than under the old system and effectively allows trials to be held in which the defendant is almost deemed guilty from the start.
It can only be used for non-imprisonable offences but that can include a surprising range of allegations, e.g. it was recently used to prosecute an HGV driver alleged to have knocked down a cyclist.
This new procedure arises from an amendment made to section 29 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that allows for criminal proceedings to be instituted by the service of a written charge. Where a written charge is issued the prosecutor must at the same time issue either a requisition or a Single Justice Procedure Notice, which is a document that requires the recipient to serve on a magistrates court a notice saying whether they ar…

Why people hate lawyers

Our society flourishes because it is built upon a system of rules that apply to everyone and which make our society a safe and predictable place to do business… at least they do if you know the rules and follow them. We call these rules “the law” and without them there would be no contracts providing us with a framework for our daily exchanges of money for goods, no consumer protections preventing unscrupulous manufacturers selling our children dangerous toys or toxic food, there would be no police to catch those who would seek to harm us because, of course, without laws there would be no rules to ban harming others, instead at best we’d have vigilante justice. With no laws structuring our society, would we have advanced much beyond the squalor and violence of the measly middle ages? These laws we have that provide the structure to our society exist only because lawyers draft them, debate them and enforce them.
Shakespeare recognised the importance of law and lawyers when he had Dick…