Stories from 2003:

The judge who was betrayed by justice

Published December 2003.

Andrew Chubb devoted most of his working life to justice, first as a lawyer in the merchant navy, then as a barrister (he appeared, for example, at the Rosemary West murder trial) and finally as a crown court judge on the western circuit – nearly 30 years of service to this country’s system of civil and criminal justice. Then he died. And justice deserted him.

To be more precise: the police failed effectively to investigate his death; two forensic experts produced reports whose conclusions quite openly owed more to guesswork than to evidence; a pathologist conducted a post-mortem which came up with a cause of death which was not proven; a coroner returned a verdict which does not stand up to scrutiny; and so, the truth was lost – because the system failed on almost every front, even when it was required to investigate the possible murder of a judge.

Defects in the defence against terrorism

Published October 2003.

“Whatever damage we have done to Al Qaida, they continue to operate…. Whatever damage they are able to inflict, they will do so. We cannot be sure where or when they will strike. But we can be certain they will try.” David Blunkett, Home Secretary.

Success story

Published July 2003.

The police are changing sides. Where once they were the voice of conventional law enforcement, senior officers are now among its most outspoken critics, searching for alternatives among the cracks in the armoury of the criminal justice system.

Street Crime

Published July 2003.

In April last year (2002) Tony Blair launched a crusade against street crime. He personally chaired eight meetings of ministers and chief constables, which chose to spend £261 million on a concerted drive to arrest, try and convict street thieves in the ten forces where the problem was worst. Blair assigned a minister to each of the ten forces and made it their personal responsibility to deliver results and then declared publicly that they would crack the problem by September – only six months after the initiaitive started.

Lies, damned lies and crime statistics

Published July 2003.

The trouble with crime is that it’s illegal. Which means it’s secret. Which means that all the king’s forces and all the king’s men and women at every level of every criminal justice agency in the country don’t really know what’s happening.

Political Policing – how central government has gate-crashed the independence of police

Published July 2003.

David Blunkett has not been getting on too well with his chief constables. Last autumn, for example, the Home Secretary unveiled his brand new National Policing Plan, which is to guide the 43 constabularies of England and Wales in all their efforts to deal with crime and disorder.

Fiddling the figures

Published July 2003.

Here is a safe bet: at some point in the future, there will be a major scandal in this country when police are exposed for submitting fictitious reports of their work; specifically, we will discover that they have been cheating in their recording of crime and cheating in their claims to be detecting it.

Killing crime reduction

Published July 2003.

There are a lot of chief constables who would happily strangle George Dixon. It’s not so much that the old BBC copper with his folksy winking ways makes any real officer look inadequate, nor even that he had the infuriating advantage of scriptwriters to deliver his perfect results. The real problem is that Dixon is cemented into the public imagination – and he’s not very good at his job.

System failure: How to lose the fight for law and order

Published June 2003.

Right there. That’s where they got the Yardie guy. He was in that pub, the Jolly Roger, over on the corner of All Hallows Road and, although it’s dark now and our van is racing, we can still catch a glimpse of the lamplit pavement where he lay with his blood pooling over the kerb and onto the tarmac street.

The plan to end all plans

Published June 2003.

The National Policing Plan runs to fifty six pages and requires all forty three police forces in England and Wales to produce three-year plans which incorporate ten Public Service Agreements with seventeen key performance indicators; four strategic priorities with ten core actions, seventeen local actions and nineteen more key peformance indicators; six performance domains with twenty one Best Value Performance Indicators; and three reform-priority areas with fifty one local planning points.

Back to top