Issue 2 (2020) 27.10.2020 In Our World ISSN: 26341794 (online and PDF) HOME PAGE.


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By Helen Gavaghan

The latest biennial report evaluating systems of justice of the Council of Europe's (CoE) member states was released at the end of last week1. ICT has made inroads into Courts across Europe, swelling some budgets as one-off expenditure transitions justice to the digital age. Gender imbalances remain among presidents of Courts, though not throughout legal systems. Britain has the fewest professional judges across the 47 member states of the CoE, because so much criminal work in the first instance is heard by lay judges. For the first time Kazakhstan participated in the exercise. Previous participants outside the CoE - Israel and Morocco - contributed, but because these three countries are observers they are not included in statistical summaries. Of the 47 members of the CoE, 45 responded. Discrepancies among judicial systems mean not every question can be answered by each country, and data are not always available.

The report is the work of the CoE's European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), which was established in 2002. The aims include pre-empting allegations of violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time. Such an entitlement is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and complaints are heard by the European Court of Human Rights which sits in Strasbourg. The CEPEJ is solution oriented and has the role of ensuring member states have what they need to implement the CoE's existing legal instruments, which take the form mainly of recommendations within ministerial resolutions. In particular, the CEPEJ is meant to enhance interstate co-operation through its analyses of what different judicial systems achieve. By undertaking its biennial reviews the CEPEJ seeks to identify data gaps and develop statistical tools to compare judicial systems across very different economic, political and legal systems, ranging from those in Russia, through Central European countries to Spain, Ireland and the UK. UK data are divided into those from Northern Ireland and from Scotland, with England and Wales as a separate entity.

The report extends over 168 pages, and it is not an easy read. By referencing data against a backdrop of economic indicators such as GDP the work has a patina of standardisation for statistical comparison. But that is all it is, a surface gloss. It is a report stuffed with tables and graphs of collated data, yet in nearly every case the seemingly obvious is, for social or legal or political reasons, not obvious. Its authors say this is not an academic work. In fact, it is, though of a legal not of a statistical nature.

Socially and humanly important factors are buried among the numbers. It is hard to see how disposition time is a useful factor without knowing the social context and more about the legal case than whether it was settled in the first instance. In England and Wales that would be at a Magistrates' hearing. People run out of money or emotional stamina and dispose of cases which in other circumstances they would not, or they hold out to avoid judgement.

*The Council of Europe is a separate body from the European Union. It is an intergovernmental organisation with 47 members.
1.The report was released by the Council of Europe's European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ).
European Judicial Systems Evaulation Report. [Accessed 27.10.2020]
The CEPEJ is supported by a secretariat based in Strasbourg.
A) Council of Europe Committee of Ministers. Resolution Res(2002)12, establishing the European Commission for the efficiency of justice (CEPEJ).
You may find on accessing this url that you receive an alert that the site is unsafe. I ignored the warning and from the UK could access the url safely. [Accessed 27th October 2020].
Appendix 1 comprises the statute governing the CEPEJ.
Appendix 2 lists international CoE instruments related to justice. These instruments comprise mainly recommendations in resolutions from the CoE Council of Ministers.
B) Explanatory note for the scheme for evaluating judicial systems. [Accessed 27th October 2020].


By Helen Gavaghan. 11th February 2020.

I have removed the names because the specific names are not relevant to
the general points which could be extracted from this news report.

Four conspirators supplying Class A drugs, namely cocaine, were sentenced today at Crown Court in Bradford to imprisonments ranging from 17 to 9 years. Large amounts of high-grade cocaine were involved. All but one of the men had previously been of good character. Mr YS (31), who had a comparatively minor previous conviction, was given 17 years, the heaviest term handed down. Mr S's advocate, Mr "Baz" Bhatia QC, drew the Court's attention to the incongruity of Mr S moving from being a very minor criminal to seemingly heading something this size. The judge said of all the conspirators, "There is no excuse for involvement in this trade of death and destruction, corrosive of our society."

A jury yesterday unanimously found one man among the defendants who went on trial last week to be not guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine. They reached their conclusion very quickly. The street value of the conspiracy described today was much larger than that involving the defendant found not guilty this week, and would seem itself to be part of something even bigger. In this instance drugs were being ferried from the Midlands to the north, and there was contact among Telford, Coventry, Halifax, Bradford, Newcastle and Sheffield. Where the drugs came from or how they got into the country was not explored in Court, nor was it clear whether that information exists. Detectives were in the public gallery, including an officer seconded from Greater Manchester Police to the North West Regional Crime unit.

The others sentenced were ML (54), who had pleaded guilty early in trial preparation. He was given 9 years. HR (26) was handed 11 years, and MBA (30) was given five years to be served consecutively to a sentence he is already serving for 8 years. The 8-year sentence was given in the Midlands before the full extent of the offending became apparent and relates to what is now known to be conspiracy. R, S and A pleaded guilty before the jury last week. This was the same jury which went on to find their co-defendant not guilty.

The sentencing and trial judge was his honour Judge Durham Hall QC. I tweeted elements of the morning hearing over lunch time (GMT) on 11th February 2020. The public interest news tweets were all before the sentences were handed down. Non of the tweets have been deleted. The judge said he requested (but could not enforce the request) that reference not be made to the sophisticated phone technology used. On the grounds of public interest I have not deleted the tweet in which I make mention of that technology in general terms. I made the news tweet before the judge commented from the bench. The technology referred to is widespread in drug conspiracies, according to comments made to the Court by the lawyers.

Published 19.23 GMT on 11th February 2020 by GavaghanCommunications for inclusion originally in Science, People & Politics issn 1751598x. The report is of more relevance to the CEPEJ news story in this issue and so is published here instead.

News report by Helen Gavaghan, 11th March 2020. Crown Court, Bradford.

This afternoon Mr Justice Goss sentenced three men for the murder of Mohammed Feazan Ayaz (20). The attack preceding and resulting in the murder took place at Denholme Business Centre on the night of 30th June 2019 to 1st July 2019. The judge called the murder "truly horrific and shocking". His lordship outlined details which were degrading, cruel, painful and humiliating. The victim suffered for more than three hours before either becoming deeply unconscious or dying. His body was moved to Allerton in Bradford. The assault was filmed on a mobile phone by the perpetrators and partially distributed on social media.

Those men convicted of the murder are RK (27), given a 30-year minimum term; RW (26), sentenced to 25 years, and SK (20), who will not be considered for parole until he has served 25 years. A press spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police, who was in Court, told Helen Gavaghan (in Court) after the sentencing that there is another person of interest to WYP.

The premises where the murder took place were being used as a safe house and to supply drugs into Lancashire. Denholme is midway among Bradford, Halifax and Keighley. It is close to the Lancashire border, and Lancashire is accessible easily via moorland roads and tracks.

Posted online at 16.25 by Helen Gavaghan, originally for inclusions in issue one 2020, Science, People & Politics. However the news report is better placed in this issue (Issue 2, 2020) of In Our World.

News report by Helen Gavaghan, 16th March 2020. Crown Court, Bradford.

His Honour Judge Gibson this afternoon issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr MAD. Mr MAD had failed to appear in response to a summons alleging breach of conditions forming part of a suspended sentence imposed in April 2019 by Bradford Crown Court. The judge found that Mr MAD clearly knew of the proceedings being brought against him, given his exchanges with the office of his defence counsel. The case against Mr MAD was heard in Mr MAD's absence. Counsel on behalf of Mr MAD had sought the Court's leave to withdraw prior to the breach proceedings, once it became clear Mr MAD was not attending.

Evidence of abusive and aggressive behaviour by Mr MAD toward members of the probation service was presented to the Court, and accepted as credible. Among other things Mr MAD called probation staff "white probation trash", made deeply offensive remarks to his supervising officer, and attempted to spit at other staff from probation.

Rather than sentence Mr MAD in his absence Judge Gibson issued a warrant for Mr MAD's arrest.

In a preceding breach case - against Mr TA - Judge Gibson had extended an existing curfew order by two weeks. Mr A had breached his order following sentence for a dangerous driving conviction. Mr A has suffered heart attacks, has caring responsibilities, and takes heavy pain killing medication. The defendant's advocate told the Court that his client - who was present - says medication means that some mornings when he wakes his client literally does not know what day it is. Mr A had asked his offender manager if he could receive a text reminder for his appointments with probation - something which in the past was routine for the probation service - but was told, "no". Judge Gibson took the view that he could in the circumstances be more lenient than the sentencing guidelines, which propose activation of suspended sentences when the Probation Service brings successful breach proceedings.

Posted online at 18.00 by Helen Gavaghan in compliance with news reporting from Court, for subsequent inclusions originally in issue one 2020 of Science, People & Politics. However the item is best placed in this issue of In our World as indicative of the difficulty of quantifying usefully the issues addressed statistically by the biennial CEPEJ report at the beginning of this issue.

They died thought criminal.
Rehabilitation a day away.
Cactus not yet succulent.
Camel humps unfilled.
Flowers bred for hardiness.
One transcription point from fulfilment.
Some like fungi sprouted mushrooms.
Some never saw glory.
Sun shone on both.
Each was perfect.
Both were perfect.
All were perfect
To the eyes of love.

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Copyright:Helen Gavaghan©
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