Slugger O'Toole

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“Police will consider the comments made by Judge Weir…”

Sat 5 May 2012, 4:18pm

They should, because it’s good advice.  From a Belfast Telegraph report

Mr Justice Weir criticised the PSNI for relying on advice from unelected community spokesmen.

The judge claimed that he had a “considerable sense of unease” concerning the credence that had been given to views from certain groups or individuals.

“The police would do very well to distance themselves from them, rather than getting in with them,” said Judge Weir.

A report in the Irish News has some more detail

Initially prosecution counsel Tessa Kitson said police had been told that there were community concerns if a 30-year-old north Belfast man was granted bail and allowed to return to the area.

Asked by the judge who the representatives were, Ms Kitson said that police, on occasions, had been advised by “members of the public who represent the community”.

“You mean, councillors?” Mr Justice Weir asked.  He also asked if they were “paramilitaries”.

When told they were not elected representatives, Mr Justice Weir said he thought the courts and the administration of justice would be “on a slippery slope” if they were to be subject to the views, concerns or advices from such so-called community representatives.

….

Ms Kitson said that family of the north Belfast man had also been told there were threats against his life, and that police had been “advised that there would be a public disturbance if released”.

“Is that a reason to stop bail?”, asked Mr Justice Weir, who said that it was “the job of the police” to protect all citizens from any such public disturbance.

Refusing bail, the judge stressed that his decision had nothing to do with the submitted police concerns as voiced by any community spokesman.

“I think the police should be standing on their own two feet”, Mr Justice Weir said.

The judge said that when police were told about any threats of violent disturbances it was up to them to deal with the matter.

Mr Justice Weir said that in future hearings: “I don’t want to hear anything of the sort again”.

And it had an immediate effect, as the same Belfast Telegraph report notes

In another bail hearing for Robert Scott (35), who has been charged with the murder of east Belfast man Richard Hicking, the judge again raised the issue of relying on unnamed community representatives.

Prosecution QC Terence Mooney told the court that “upon reflection” he did not think it right to rely on or mention the advice given to police.

Indeed.  But we’ve been here before…

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Comments (29)

  1. The Raven (profile) says:

    ““You mean, councillors?” Mr Justice Weir asked.”

    Errrrr….

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  2. Nevin (profile) says:

    “The police would do very well to distance themselves from them, rather than getting in with them”

    Is the judge presuming that police officers have a choice in the matter? Perhaps he isn’t a regular reader of Slugger O’Toole.

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  3. This, along with the rehiring of former RUC officers shows the PSNI are now colluding with shadowy figures and accepting veiled and maybe not so veiled threats about what could happen if their ‘advice wasn’t accepted. They are
    just looking for an easy life. The judge was right to warn about that.

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  4. Nevin (profile) says:

    “the courts and the administration of justice would be “on a slippery slope””

    The ‘slope’ isn’t exactly new and the District Policing Partnerships became Policing and Community Safety Partnerships – on April 1, 2012.

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  5. michael-mcivor (profile) black spot says:

    No matter what snide remarks the judge made he still done what the police and community spokes-people wanted-he never allowed the accused bail-

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  6. sherdy (profile) says:

    That was a rare event in our courts – a judge talking common sense. He can’t have much of a future in our judiciary!

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  7. lamhdearg2 (profile) black spot black spot says:

    would the police on the mainland and in Eire not listen to and convey such advice, where it delivered to them, say by a community worker, or a member of the general public. It would and should be up to the police to judge if the person conveying said advice is in fact making a threat and act accordingly,if the judge feels the police are ignoring their duties, he should say so in stronger terms, the judge sounds to me, to be doing a pontius pilate, in saying he wants not to hear about it.

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  8. It seems that various Sinn Féin sponsored Community Workers are doing all they can to invite and encourage the PSNI into working class Republican areas in Belfast and beyond.Which is fine if your not on the recieving end of Political Policing…

    As whether the Shinners like it or not, the PSNI are essentially the RUC who hated anything to do with Republicanism and true community-empowerment. Most working-class Nationalist still don’t accept these middle-class bigots as genuine and will continue to do so until those responsible for hundreds of killings of innocent Nationalists are made accountable!

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  9. socaire (profile) says:

    Remind me again what percentage of the PSNI are ex RUC?

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  10. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Nice to see the old Republican bigotry and racism lives on. Keep it up boys. Every post just exposes your powerlessness and irrelevance

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  11. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Now that psni seem to have subcontracted policing to ex-pirs community leaders (aka enforcers) just why do we need all those expensive senior police officers. Sure Gerry can just direct them from Louth

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  12. Nevin (profile) says:

    “why do we need all those expensive senior police officers”

    To provide reassurance to the public, cynic2; savings can be made by closing and selling off police stations and by reducing the number of police constables.

    Isn’t it curious that a judge is apparently unable to interpret the changing political landscape? The move to ‘civic’ justice will also lead to a reduction of the workload and income of judges ..

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  13. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Nevin

    We Can even spin it as a green justice policy.

    Lynch mobs need more trees to string up suspects.

    Disappeared? Lets just call Them ‘green burials’ – so much softer and more appealing!

    Might even soon get grants for it – aside from the ones they are already getting.

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  14. ranger1640 (profile) says:

    Is this the PSNI’s, coming of age speech by Mr Justice Weir. It’s well over due that the PSNI started to act like a police force. Rather than the arm of social services they have become. Community policing is an excuse for local fascists with their own vested interests to influence the police.

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  15. Granni Trixie (profile) says:

    Surely what is best is a joined up system where police do indeed work with them rather than against them . For instance in our deliberations about punishment beatings many of us were saying that everyone involved with young people need to cooperate.
    That does not mean that I do not see the validity of what the judge is pointing to.

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  16. Rory Carr (profile) says:

    I would venture to suggest that it is in fact Mr Justice Weir who stands in need of rebuke here.

    If the police have learned through local intelligence that the defendant in this case is at serious risk because of a perception of his behaviour (or more likely, misbehaviour) within his own community, then among the better ways of protecting him from harm surely protective custody must be one that springs to mind.

    Strangely, after all he has to say, the good judge, recognising finally the limited availability of choice, seems to agree. Better late than never I suppose..

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  17. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “police do indeed work with them”

    Who are ‘them’ and who elected ‘them’

    What about ‘them’ who are carrying guns beating and excluding young people

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  18. sonofstrongbow (profile) says:

    Do the PSNI pay their spads a salary or simply a retainer? Do they get a security vetting along with the mobile phone?

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  19. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Keep out of jail free cards?

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  20. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Just drove along the marathon route. Peelers everywhere – i assume all on double time.

    Why aren’t the community reps organising groups of local ‘volunteers’ to steward this? After all they seem to have so much ‘influence’ in the local communities I am sure it wouldn’t be hard for them to drag the great unwashed out into the rain at 8am to help out

    It would be a lot cheaper and free the cops up for more important duties like attending sensitivity training, filling in claim forms, harassing motorists trying to park and fetching the Sergeant’s chips

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  21. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Why aren’t the community reps organising groups”

    That’s mundane police work, cynic2; our parapoliticians are busily transforming Belfast into a post-democratic society

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  22. tacapall (profile) says:

    Cynic2

    Just drove along the marathon route. Peelers everywhere – i assume all on double time.

    “Why aren’t the community reps organising groups of local ‘volunteers’ to steward this? After all they seem to have so much ‘influence’ in the local communities I am sure it wouldn’t be hard for them to drag the great unwashed out into the rain at 8am to help out

    It would be a lot cheaper and free the cops up for more important duties like attending sensitivity training, filling in claim forms, harassing motorists trying to park and fetching the Sergeant’s chips”

    Hopefully you’ll remember those words during the clean up operation before and after the 12th July bonfires and parades.

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  23. lamhdearg2 (profile) black spot black spot says:

    A good example of a double edged sword, come july (or sooner) when we get the annual put down the orange/loyalist band parade fest, will those calling for the parades to be band on account of there cost, please also call for the banning of the marathon. Thank you.

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  24. cynic2 (profile) says:

    Tacapall

    I will indeed.

    You really do have a very twisted view on life, don’t you. In your little world all Prods are raving Orangemen and Gerry should be the next Cardinal (if not Pope). Do try and get out more.

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  25. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “our parapoliticians are busily transforming Belfast into a post-democratic society”

    That struck a chord

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4TdPxOXuYw

    With Mel Gibson as Marty or Pete?

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  26. tacapall (profile) says:

    Cynic2 – If its good for the goose ….

    Not all Protestants are Orangemen in fact some of them view Orangemen like I view pedophile priests.

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  27. son of sam (profile) says:

    According to the narrative above, prosecution counsel did not confirm if these “community” folk were ex- paramilitaries.I suppose by inference,they may have had the whiff of gunsmoke around them!It should be noted that Mr Justice Weir tends to call it like it is ,an example being the judgement in R v Hoey where he didnt spare the police service.Im sure senior police will take due note of his strictures.

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  28. seamus60 (profile) says:

    How long till theres no charge required and its just a simple. I`m sending you to prison for your own safety. lol

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  29. Nevin (profile) says:

    “How long till theres no charge required”

    seamus60, the political process continues to ‘move forward’. In the good old days, someone could be interned on the word of a senior police officer; now a ‘community representative’ of the rank of, say, an MLA might be able to facilitate such an arrangement.

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