PUBLISHER Short Journalistic Court Reports. Happenings in Court

5th August, 2015. During proceedings this afternoon surrounding comparatively minor criminal charges his honour Judge Thomas QC, the recorder of Bradford, remarked that what many who become involved in the criminal justice system want as an outcome is for matters not to repeat themselves.

In these Internet days it is difficult for me to justify as public interest reporting specifics of the case, given that the longevity of internet stories may keep past issues live beyond dates laid down within such legislation as the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, or may tie victims to a past they would prefer to forget.

Of public significance, though, was that Judge Thomas emphasized that when he said no contact for 12 months he meant no contact in any way, no exchanges via facebook, nor any form of social media, email, phone etc..., direct, indirect or in any way. In the circumstances of unexpectedly seeing any of those with whom contact is prohibited turn away, walk away, do not engage in any way. The consequences of not obeying the order would almost certainly end in a jail sentence, he said.

Elsewhere in the Court an historic sex case of alleged rape of a minor was drawing to a conclusion. Unlike in the case involving Judge Thomas, where I am self censoring, the restrictions which mean there is little I can write of such sex cases are formal and strict. Yet this is the second such trial I have in a short time stumbled into in Bradford Crown Court. I cannot help but wonder how much of the time of Crown Courts around the UK is now spent hearing such cases, and what the toll of them is on the emotional well being of Court staff, police and legal representatives. The toll on those who are victims, or who think they are victims can be heard in their sobs.

By Helen Gavaghan, freelance journalist, science writer
and editor of Science, People & Politics


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