Judges should be focused on prosecuting offences, not on people taking offence

AS the old adage goes, who would want to be a referee? The same might well be said for judges.

As well as battling an unprecedented backlog of cases, they are now being battered over the head with a bible of wokery.

New guidance has been issued to officials in a 556- page Equal Treatment Bench Book.

In other words, a long list of “acceptable language to use” so as not offend victims, defendants and witnesses.

In the newest, very hefty edition of the guidebook — published by the Judicial College, the official training body for judges in England and Wales — judges are ordered to use more “gender neutral” language in a bid to be more “inclusive” in the courtroom.

Predictable examples include ditching “postman” for “postal operative” and “air hostess” for “flight attendant”. A “business-man” should be rebranded a “business person”, while a “chairman” becomes “chair”.

Most controversially, one section that deals with trans individuals in courtrooms tells judges they can compel victims of sexual offences to refer to the accused defendants by the pronouns they identify with.

It terrifies me that, at a time when our judicial system is in a state of complete disarray, public money and resources are being pumped into molly-coddling grown-ups.

The crown courts backlog is monumental — and rising. It increased by nearly 50 per cent in the 15 months after the pandemic began, to around 60,000 cases.

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These are not just numbers, these are victims waiting agonisingly to have their cases heard and being forced to wait through no fault of their own.

During the same time period, the number of crown-court sexual offences cases taking longer than a year to get to trial increased by a staggering 435 per cent.

Never mind learning about politically correct language when it comes to sex and gender identity, the courts should be getting on with the job of dealing with the huge mountain of sex-related crimes taking place all over the country.

And believe it or not, those cases in the backlog are the lucky ones. Because even getting this far in the legal process is nigh-on impossible.

The prosecution rate for rape cases is currently less than two per cent, and rape convictions fell to a record low during the pandemic.

There are simply not enough resources in the criminal justice system to properly and swiftly consider the evidence needed to bring these cases to trial.

The system’s inability to properly deal with rape cases, and the treatment of victims, has become so desperately embarrassing that the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, said in her 2020 annual report that we were now effectively witnessing the “decriminalisation of rape”.

LUCKY ONES

A claim she felt compelled to repeat in her damning review of rape prosecutions in this year’s annual review.

While the pandemic has made the problems with our judicial system worse, they started long before Covid.

It is clear to anyone looking at this farcical situation that our courts are struggling to get even the basics right.

Justice is being administered too shoddily, not enough cases are getting to court and those that do are taking too long to get there.

That is why every resource and every hour of manpower should be going into cleaning up the enormous backlog and catalogue of catastrophic failures that line the system.

Judges don’t need a beefy bible preaching the woke gospel added to the mountain of work they already have on their desks. That should be the least of their worries.

What we need are officials whose focus is entirely on delivering justice for victims, not misgendering defendants.

Judges should be focused on prosecuting offences, not on people taking offence.

'Bows laws farce

HOME Secretary Priti Patel has ordered a review of the laws surrounding crossbow ownership.

It comes after a 19-year-old man armed with the deadly weapon was arrested trying to break into Windsor Castle on Christmas Day.

He is now detained under the Mental Health Act and the police are reviewing a video showing a masked man saying he wants to “assassinate the Queen”.

This is, needless to say, a terrifying incident only curbed because of the speed and bravery of security and police.

But it begs questions.

How can it be right that, under current laws, any adult can legally own a crossbow without any checks or a licence?

It can’t be safe that the police have no record of how many crossbows are in circulation or who they are in the hands of.

It’s bad enough we have a knife crime epidemic, the last thing we need is more unregulated weapons on our streets.

A-list know-it-alls

lSINGER Dua Lipa is the latest celebrity-turned-lifestyle guru. She is launching a venture she describes as a “style, culture and society concierge service”.

Cue eye rolls. She follows in the path of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kourtney Kardashian and Reece Witherspoon, who give fans recommendations on everything from food and exercise to what to read and listen to.

What is it with celebrities who make millions and think they’ve cracked the key to what it is the public really need?

Do we really need a star telling us if we buy those £100 candles, £500 face creams and go on a vegan diet of seaweed, hemp milk and chia seeds, we’ll be happy?

Most people just want to lower their bills and grab the occasional bargain in a sale. If Dua has any tips here, I’m sure she’ll be a hit.
Until then, my free lifestyle advice is to avoid A-list know-it-alls.

Dinghy tide is a joke

IT fills me with despair when I see how quickly our immigration system is becoming a laughing stock.

Illegal crossings are running at nearly four times the rate of last year.
Now it has emerged two out of three people claiming asylum as children over the past year were actually adults. That is compared to fewer than half in 2019/2020.

The Government can no longer claim we have an immigration system that can be taken seriously. Vile people-smugglers must be rubbing their hands with glee. I can’t blame them.

X-RATED FACE OF COVID-19

MET police figures reveal a 329 per cent rise in revenge porn in London over a one-year period during the pandemic, with more people sharing explicit pictures of others without their consent.

Shockingly, the number of victims aged between ten and 17 has quadrupled in that time. These are surely yet more unintended results of lockdown.

People have had their relationships massively strained, more have been forced to find love online and thousands have been driven crazy by being sat at home, lonely, with nothing but screens for company.

No surprise we have felt a need to be intimate over screens in the absence of real-life contact. It’s even less surprising creeps and criminals have exploited this. We were told lockdowns would keep us safe.

But it’s clear we are all, especially children, exposed more than ever to other risks.

It's 007, not the spy who bored me

AN analysis of all 25 James Bond films has found that, even if his enemies couldn’t, the secret agent’s own lifestyle would have almost certainly killed him by now.

Researchers concluded that any real-life agent in 007’s shoes would have died of STIs, alcohol poisoning or infectious diseases picked up from his international escapades.

There’s a cliché that academics are drab, sock-and-sandal-wearing social misfits who have never had a day of fun.

The fact this bunch of expert medical researchers took time out of their days to conduct this study doesn’t do them any favours when it comes to changing that stereotype.

They also might have forgotten James Bond is a fictional character.

People have been flocking to the big screen for decades to watch Bond precisely because he lives a risky and racy lifestyle.

Who on Earth wants to see a teetotal, vaccination card-carrying, celibate 007?

No one.

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