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…
Topic: Government, Politics, Society and Culture
Region: Northern Ireland, UK
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