12 retired police officers to stand trial in Wales

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/07/06/eight-retired-policemen-to-stand-trial-over-roles-in-lynette-white-murder-trial-91466-29003229/

12 retired police officers are to stand trial for perverting the course of justice in two separate trials over an infamous miscarriage of justice dating back 20 years.

That’s right – 20 years.  Some of the details can be found in the link above.  All the officers are pleading not guilty – I guess most of us would try our arms after 20 years!

The case, involving the murder of a prostitute, is as dire as that involving Nico Bento, the guy convicted on a non-murder through the use of a loony forensic non-expert wheeled in instead of our own internationally renowned expert.

In the US they believe they are seeing cases of acquittals because juries don’t trust either police of prosecutions, partly through personal experience and perceptions of wider injustice in society.

I doubt I have any sympathy for the former officers in this case, but I’m concerned that only police are the only officers on trial.  This case and Bento should have led to defence and prosecution lawyers being put in the dock, and probably people from PSDs and elsewhere for suppressing doubts relevant to the defence.  The Met is looking as bad as ever in the current phone tapping farce too.  Judges should be struck off in cases like this too.

At deep levels the problem concerns the cowed state of our society which resembles the performance management of the Soviet Block.  There is a problem in public perception of the difficulties of policing and it is difficult to justify anything that makes policing more difficult given the current failure to prevent anti-social crime.  I believe it’s time for root and branch changes across the CJS.

In a way Gadget-type commentary is right in that we are bureaucratising everything to death, but the people into this really don’t see themselves as a big part of the problem.  Much is known in good practice about what to do, but this is left in the hands of people with no interest in achieving such good practice because their own jobs, pay rates and fees are bound up in keeping things as they are.

Miscarriages of justice are not rare, but daily and in substantial number.  Judges estimate about one case in ten and some decent statistical work concludes a range of 10% to 15% on jury trials.  Massive numbers are hidden in the daily routines of not dealing with anti-social crime, the treatment of witnesses and bungles like Baby P.  The Welsh case is already a failure – if there is a case why was it not pursued much earlier?