Thursday, 19 June 2008
Why shouldn’t Magistrates criticise the police?
This month UK Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, sacked a Magistrate for criticizing the police for not adequately protecting her daughter from being physically assaulted in her school.
Aside from the fact that the Magistrate is the only Romany Magistrate in Cornwall, Wales and England and that the news came “a week after it emerged that the family of 15-year-old Arsema Dawit had complained to the police that she was being harassed shortly before she was stabbed to death in a London council block”, why shouldn’t Magistrates be able to have an opinion?
Mr Straw said in a letter to the Magistrate in question that “your behaviour has led to your impartiality being brought into question”, but Magistrates are, after all, just members of the public and as such should be able to have a public opinion. The wikipedia reference on UK Magistrates says:
“No formal qualifications are required but magistrates need intelligence, common sense, integrity and the capacity to act fairly. Membership is widely spread throughout the area covered and drawn from all walks of life. Police officers, traffic wardens and members of the armed forces, as well as their close relatives will not be appointed, nor will those convicted of certain criminal offences including recent minor offences.”
The Magistrate, Shay Clipson, said:
“I was acting as a mother who had good reason to be both furious and to question the lack of competence and ethics that were being displayed. Not only was my child terrified for her safety, this campaign of terror was based on racism, mainly her Welsh accent, and possibly her Romany background, yet the police were not doing enough to support her.”
It certainly seems that Ms Clipson has all of those qualities of a Magistrate listed above, so why shouldn’t she be able to criticize the police Mr Straw?
Source: The Independent
Posted by Rhisiart at 07:11