Justice is about the defendant

I listened to the Home Secretary speak at the Police Federation Conference the other day. Amongst what she said there was little with which to disagree-except she described the Police as the “Custodians of Justice”. Later someone from the College of Policing emphasised the factual basis of this statement.

One of the reasons that cases collapse and the acquittal rate in the Crown court is at 40% is because the focus forced upon the Police is to deal with issues which should not be a priority. The role of the Police is to investigate crime and to maintain the Queen’s Peace. The statutory obligation to investigate cases is set on in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996

Section 22

(1)For the purposes of this Part a criminal investigation is an investigation conducted by police officers with a view to it being ascertained—

(a)whether a person should be charged with an offence, or

(b)whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it.

This is what the Police’s role is. They are NOT Custodians of anything. Judges, lawyers and juries are “Custodians of Justice” and the Police Officers and Staff, Probation Officers and Staff, Court Staff and Prison Officers and Staff as well as NOMS and Parole Board Members and Staff upon which our Justice system relies are the Servants of Justice.

Victims of Crime deserve to be treated better-but that should not be the Police’s responsibility. There is no reason why the Government should not finance and support Victim Support Services so that access to support services such as the NHS can offer or other charities can offer are free and available to all victims of crime.

The Police should be impartial. The Crown Prosecution Service can take account of a Victim’s views on their case and apply the variety of Codes which guide decision-making as to whether cases should be charged, how they should be charged and whether they should continue.

Too often the Police are called to a domestic incident and remove the male about whom there has been a complaint. Barriers to a proper investigation as envisaged by CPIA section 22 are created by domestic violence protocols and policies which have been forced upon the Police. Far better would be a Victims’ Legal Service which could advise victims of crime and apply for injunctions eg Restraining orders and Non-Molestation Orders and Domestic Violence Protection Orders and compensation on a Free basis (ie without a fee to pay and without charge to a victim of crime), funded out of taxes and costs orders made against convicted Defendants. The Police should not have to worry about being a victims new best friend. They should be engaged in gathering evidence in an objective, impartial manner. In my view current applications for DVPOs are actually made to protect the Police from criticism and are granted by Magistrates for precisely the same reason all because for the minute we are obliged to take domestic violence seriously. Remember ASBOs?

We need a system which is based upon consistent application of the law rather than on sipping up the latest flavour of the month. In this way victims and defendants will get better Justice and there will be less acquittals.

The fact is that the system is so under-resourced that it is a miracle that anyone is convicted. The manner of case investigation, preparation and prosecution-along with intrinsic inefficiencies in the system which digitalisation alone won’t cure-make defence advocates look great as cases splutter from one poor, late decision to another before the case is dropped or cracked ie a lesser charge is accepted and pleaded to.

Look at the latest Quarterly Statistics and read the report thoroughly. Instead of believing the propaganda put out by the Ministry of Justice and others, understand that the Justice system has collapsed {have a read of this report too: https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Efficiency-in-the-criminal-justice-system-Summary.pdf } and is being kept alive by the oxygen of goodwill which has always made the wheels turn smoothly. The problem is, that the oxygen is running out too. Proper resources across the Justice Systems are required.


Why do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

You may wonder why it is necessary to have a Lasting Power of Attorney, what benefit would this be to you or your family?
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, one which allows an attorney(s), appointed by you,  to deal with your financial affairs on your behalf and another which allows your attorney(s) to make decisions about your medical care or living arrangements. The idea is that you appoint attorneys now and give them directions as to how they should handle your affairs if you are unable to do so later.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
Many of you will be aware of the fact that Powers of Attorney are often used by relatives when a person loses mental capacity. This could be following a stroke or vascular dementia.  But have you ever given any thought as to just how this is possible?
The answer is that the donor/ patient planned ahead. Most people have no idea whether they are going to lose mental capacity. It is a little bit like insuring your home. There may or may not be flooding or theft. But if there is, and you are insured,  you know that your insurer will look after you. In the same way that you would not risk leaving your home uninsured, Emmersons Solicitors Lasting Power of Attorney clients would not risk a situation where there was no one able to manage their affairs if they could not do so themselves.
Through the maze
Many of our clients attend to a number of issues at once. They make their wills, they may make lifetime gifts at the same time, organise how their home is owned, arrange for the storage of their important documents and attend to a Lasting Power of Attorney. Usually this will involve two visits to our office. However, once dealt with our clients often comment that they are relieved that they have planned ahead and sorted out their affairs.
Notably, it is still possible to make a Lasting Power of Attorney even if you have been diagnosed with Dementia. Contact us if you are worried about this.
What are the likely consequences of not making a Power of Attorney?
Let’s imagine that your father lives alone, he owns his own home and all of his investments and bank accounts are in his sole name. Now imagine that he has a stroke and loses mental capacity. You set about trying to work out where he is going to live. You may decide that he is going to live with you. You decide that as he will not be able to live in his own home again it should be sold. Or it may be necessary for your father to move into a residential care setting. In which case someone has to authorise payments from your father’s bank accounts to a care home. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney you cannot do this.
In order for your father’s home to be sold someone has to be able to instruct estate agents and solicitors. Someone will have to sign the necessary legal documents. You are not an owner of your father’s home and therefore you cannot sell his home. Your father no longer has mental capacity so he cannot sign the legal documents which would enable the sale to take place.
Had your father appointed you as his Attorney, then under the circumstances you would now be able to step in and deal with sale of his home as well as the receipt of and investment of the sale proceeds. You would also be able to run his bank accounts and thus pay for his care home fees.
All is not lost however. You could still apply to The Court of Protection to become your father’s deputy. A deputy is a person appointed by the court to manage the affairs of a person who is, because of mental incapacity, unable to do so for themselves. This will take a number of months to achieve and you must prove to the court that you are a suitable person to take over your father’s affairs. It requires the completion of some rather lengthy forms including details about your own finances. It is also necessary to prove to the court that your father has lost mental capacity. At Emmersons Solicitors, we are frequently called upon to make such applications by people in your situation. Once granted there is also annual insurance to pay and at any time in the future you may have to be interviewed by a Visitor appointed by the Court of Protection. Their role is to investigate how you are managing your father’s monetary affairs.
Ultimately however, the court may determine that you are not a suitable person. At Emmersons Solicitors we have had a couple of cases recently where the court have determined that the local authority should take over instead of relatives. How would your father feel about that?
In short, the point of a Lasting Power of Attorney is to enable your relatives or friends to help you run your affairs if you are unable to do so. You will have peace of mind knowing that you have appointed people you trust. They will not have the added stress of dealing with the Court of Protection at a time when they are trying to help you with your care and housing needs. They will not have to worry about being interviewed by a Court of Protection Visitor.
If you expect your relatives or friends to look out for you in your hour of need then you should make this as easy as possible for them.
Act now in order to help them help you.
If you require any help or advice relating to this topic then please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01912846989 or 01915676667 or helen@emmersons-solicitors.co.uk