Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rape and anonymity

The Lib-Cons have opened up a rather old can of worms with this particular idea -- giving those accused of rape the right to anonymity.

It has been branded an insult by some groups, who feel that the focus should be on low conviction rates, and not on the few claims that are false. But on what basis do they say that few claims are false? On what basis do they say that most of the claims are true?

To find out whether there is any truth in a claim, it must be tested in court, and tested rigorously. And they are. And the conviction rate is not high.

The conviction rate for rape cases that go to trial is lower than for other crimes: 44% in London, as against 80ish% for general crime. Why does this gap exist? Simple. Jurors are believing alleged victims of rape less often than they are believing alleged victims of other crimes.

To change this, you'll need to change how jurors think. Which is a slightly bigger issue than can be solved by getting judges to make so-called "rape myth directions".

A jury must be satisfied so that it is sure that the facts constituting the offence took place, and that the mental element of the offence, where required, was present. When one considers the consequences for those convicted -- incarceration for many years -- it is only right that the allegation made against them be tested thoroughly.

Conversely, when one considers the particularly abhorrent nature of the crime of rape, and its potential for lifelong effects, it is only right that those convicted are incarcerated for many years.

As things stand, the conviction rate in London is below 44%, and it's 58.2% nationwide. That's a lot of men who have stood trial for rape, and a lot of women who haven't been believed by the jury, for whatever reason.

Given the effect of an unfounded rape allegation, and the publicity that can ensue, if more than half of the men who stand trial for rape in London are being acquitted, maybe anonymity's time has come. Again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Racism, yet again.

Anyone remember that chap I wrote about a little while back? The one who had a quiet word with the papers?

Apparently the CPS gave him the old heave-ho. Gross misconduct, my sources say -- making up racist complaints.

You couldn't make it up. Apparently, he did. If half of what I hear about this racism thing is true, I'd like to know when to expect my automatic evil white man promotion...I fancy a crack at being DPP if that's OK, boss?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Tory Lib-Dem Coalition

The last few days have been an extended lesson in what passes for a constitution in this country. Rolling news channels have been explaining the protocol to the masses, and the masses still don't care. I am relieved that the country now has functioning government.

In case you were under a rock, the Tories have struck a deal with the Lib Dems to govern. No sooner have they begun than they have gerrymandered parliament to protect their weakened mandate -- the 55% rule. 50% + 1 MP used to be required to force a vote of no confidence. Now it's 55%. Why? Because the Tories and the Lib-Dems can muster 46%, or thereabouts, thus ensuring that they are safe as long as the coalition holds.

And how long will that be?

William Hague, if my memory serves me, campaigned under the slogan "24 hours to save the pound" in 2001. He's now the Foreign Secretary of a coalition with the Lib Dems. Clegg speaks five languages, has a Spanish wife, a Russian grandparent, and has worked in Brussels. It's time the Tories faced up the reality -- we signed our sovereignty over ages ago, beginning as far back as the Treaty of Rome. It's far better to seek a strong position in Europe than deny the truth.

New government:


No more ID cards. The ID card database was a data protection catastrophe waiting to happen, not to mention a totalitarian wet dream.

Some sort of posturing in the direction of civil liberties / rolling back the surveillance society.

Dominic Grieve QC is the new Attorney-General. Well-regarded within the profession, a 'lawyers' lawyer' as the papers are saying.

ELECTORAL REFORM -- the big one! Hurrah, our votes will be worth the same, and the in-built advantage for Labour is gone. I don't have anything against Labour, but getting 4% more of the popular vote, but five TIMES more seats than the Lib Dems is just crap. Although I note that the Tories will whip through the vote on the referendum, but leave MPs free to campaign against electoral reform. Sneaky buggers.

No more pre-charge advice for summary offences, as per Tory manifesto. Hopefully, the sergeants in the local nick will continue to do what they've always done -- apply common sense, rather than the niceties of the latest diktat from Whitehall. If a complicated harassment comes in (summary), they'll be on the phone / lurking near my desk. If a big punch up comes in and they can see the CCTV, then hopefully they'll just get on and charge it, maybe a quick phone call to check that a black eye is summary only, or an opinion on mode of trial for a broken nose.


Erm, where to start? The usual crap in the manifestos of both sides.

The Tories bleat about building prison capacity, but there isn't the cash for that. They say that they are going to 'let criminals know that they can expect a prison sentence for carrying a knife'. Except that that's what we already have. Sentencing guidelines saying something worthy, and courts giving the sentence that they feel appropriate. If parties really wanted to get tough, it'd be a mandatory five year sentence for knife carrying, just like guns. The truth is, nobody's that bothered.

Lib Dems -- probably going to be disappointed on everything except electoral reform, and that too if Murdoch throws his not inconsiderable weight behind the Tories in a campaign to keep first past the post.

Hopefully, they'll begin with the bonfire of laws they've been promising. I hope we can trust the Lib Dems to keep the Human Rights Act 1998 away from the lighter fluid.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Makes you proud, doesn't it?

The government (last government, now) is chipping away at certain aspects of justice, and riding utterly roughshod over others.

The latter is behaviour more suited to a banana republic than England. Hopefully this sort of thing will help the new lot to remember that we can be as bad as anyone else.

Don't hold your breath, though.