Posts Tagged ‘ custody suite ’


EAST IS EAST

Written by admin
August 22nd, 2019

As courts close and custody suites are mothballed, so firms of solicitors have to commit to one existing custody centre or another.

This has never been more starkly demonstrated than in the case of the lovely market town of Buxton.

For many years Buxton had a Magistrates’ Court which serviced the whole of the High Peak. As other courts closed in Matlock, Bakewell, Glossop and beyond, so the Buxton workload had grown.

The latest round of cuts saw the Magistrates’ Court close and its work be transferred either to Chesterfield or to Stockport.

In recent times, the custody suite has gone the same way, save for volunteers attending to be interviewed or arrests who will be dealt with in less than six hours.

Inevitably, this has forced local firms to make a decision about their futures. Firms have to look either east to Chesterfield or west to Stockport, committing particular individuals to a particular duty solicitor scheme which services a specific police station and a specific court.

Not surprisingly, a number have decided to look after clients who are going to be appearing before the magistrates of Stockport and the Crown Court in Manchester.

We are pleased to say that at The Johnson Partnership we are going to be committing ourselves wholeheartedly to service those North Derbyshire clients who will be appearing before the magistrates of Chesterfield and the Crown Court in Derby.

We believe it is important to be able to service the needs of clients at all levels and at all times. By having specialist police station advisors, Magistrates’ Court advocates and Crown Court litigators and advocates available in numbers, we believe we can provide a super service to our North Derbyshire clients, rather than spreading ourselves too thinly across the courts of North Derbyshire and South Manchester.

It goes without saying we will be happy to look after individual clients on a one-off basis, even arranging for transport, where funds are limited and clients will struggle to make it on their own. For the most part, however, our dedication is to our day to day Chesterfield clientele.

PHASED WITHDRAWAL

Written by admin
March 25th, 2019

Within the area of the country covered by The Johnson Partnership offices we have noticed an interesting if worrying phenomenon.

In the town of Buxton there used to be a thriving Magistrates’ Court and a custody suite which covered the entirety of the northwest of Derbyshire from Matlock to Glossop and from Hartington over to Baslow. This is a huge area of land and a good number of people in its radius.

In the second round of cuts, the Magistrates’ Court, which has long since served this thriving market town was closed. Work was transferred to Chesterfield stage by stage. Initially custody cases were transferred to Chesterfield and then there was a total closure leading to all matters being heard in a court over thirty miles away, with no train link between the two and a somewhat ponderous bus service.

The next step was for the custody suite to be downgraded. Increasingly, prisoners who were likely to be in custody for more than six hours, were being dealt with at Chesterfield rather than Buxton. Inevitably, it soon became a police station where a vast majority of interviewees were those attending on a voluntary basis.

The Duty Solicitor Scheme for Buxton has slowly been wound down. Solicitors have to choose their slots on either the Chesterfield or Stockport rotas.

We now therefore have a town with no court, no meaningful custody suite, no Duty Solicitor Scheme, and very very few solicitors serving that entire region.

CLOSENESS IS TOO COSY FOR COMFORT

Written by admin
March 15th, 2019

The arrival of a new super custody suite for South Humberside throws up all the usual questions for the Defence solicitors in the area. Traditionally, Defence solicitors in South Humberside are based either in Scunthorpe or Grimsby. Strictly speaking, the new custody suite is not in the centre of either of these two population centres.

Obviously, there is the possibility for new offices to be opened close to the new custody suite, but as ever, this begs the question of whether an office close to a police station really does bring the expected return.

How many people leave the police station and decide the first place that they want to go rather than home, the pub, their drug dealer or McDonald’s is actually their solicitor. How many people arrive at the police station under their own steam only to think at the last minute “Oh that’s what I forgot! A solicitor!” Those arriving in custody having been transported by the police tend to arrive at the rear of police stations and do not pass the open arms of the Defence solicitors whose offices have been invitingly opened nearby. Even those who are driven to the front of the station are unlikely to take in the subtleties of the names of particular firms.

Inevitably then, it seems likely that The Johnson Partnership will not be opening a new office near to South Humberside’s new custody centre.

In recent times, a small rank of well-established Defence firms have opened in the proximity of Derby’s St Mary’s Wharf custody suite. One of our competitors, when relocating within Chesterfield city centre, decided that an office, cheek by jowel with the town’s police station, was a good investment. Within our area, only the wise folk of Sheffield seem to have decided that relocating to the unlovely, unprepossessing, inconvenient and unwelcoming area of the new Shepcote Lane custody suite would be a poor idea.

Discussions with clients show that they tend to be suspicious of many Defence solicitors who are seen as part of the establishment. The Duty Solicitor Scheme has, from time to time, fallen into disrepute, because clients have believed that duty solicitors were “police solicitors”. To do anything to bolster this idea of cosiness seems to be, if not commercial suicide, certainly a serious commercial illness which might result in some haemorrhaging of clients.

Whether it be Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Grimsby or Lincoln, The Johnson Partnership are pleased to assert our independence, whether it be from police officers, prisons, the Youth Offending Team, the probation service, Judges, prosecutors, or whosoever else may be part of our system.

POSTAL REQUISITIONS FROM HELL

Written by Sian Hall
February 25th, 2018

The idea of people being posted and goods or services being requisitioned immediately brings back memories of old World War II movies on black and white Sunday afternoons.

In their wisdom, the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunal Service decided some little time ago to replace the time served summons with a new postal requisition. The postal requisition requires somebody to attend court at a particular time on a particular date and is posted to the last known address of the would-be recipient.

With voluntary interviews away from custody suites becoming more and more common, and with defendants being called to attend at court long after they have been allegedly released under investigation, the postal requisition is now in its heyday.

Having somebody back at the police station in order to charge them and give them a new date face to face, on which they were required to attend at court, obviously had a level of direct drive certainty about it. The postal requisition has introduced endless vagaries and uncertainties into a previously quick and efficient process.

Perhaps the weirdest and wackiest use of the postal requisition is to commence proceedings against someone who is still known to be a serving prisoner. A document is posted to the individual at the prison, but it is rarely sent out along with an order calling on the prison to produce that person to court. The prisoner sits in his cell, the court wants to know where they are, and the connective tissue of the production order has never been put in place.

Now that the West Yorkshire Police are rolling out trial mobile fingerprint scanners, perhaps the day of the mobile custody suite, with all the certainty and clarity that that entails, may not be far hence and the days of the postal requisition may yet be numbered.

YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT SKEGNESS?

Written by Sian Hall
December 7th, 2017

As well as the major courts and police stations served by each office, there is inevitably a penumbra of places that each office will serve. The Nottingham office will serve Grantham, Loughborough, Leicester, and many points south. The Derby office will serve Burton, Cannock, Tamworth and the like. Staff from Chesterfield will be seen at the Buxton custody suite or attending voluntary interviews in Bakewell or Matlock. The Sheffield office can cover Rotherham almost as easily as it can Sheffield. The Barnsley office reaches out to Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and all of the other West Yorkshire towns including the super custody suite at Normanton Top. The Doncaster office covers Goole, Thorne, York, and beyond. Our Scunthorpe and Grimsby offices will jointly look after cases in Goole, Hull, Bridlington, etc. The Lincoln office will happily pull in work in Gainsborough, Sleaford, Boston, and so on. The Mansfield office regularly services work in Newark, Retford, Worksop, and Sutton in Ashfield. All offices then have their own immediate courts and police stations and many more besides.

The question however is which office will service Skegness? Every summer clients stream out to the east coast for sun, sea, sand, and soggy chips. Every weekend in spring and autumn there are dance raves and party events as well as the Butlins weekenders to attract the hordes. Throughout the year there are people visiting friends and relatives who have retired to the coast or simply stepped that way in order to “get away” from who knows what. The custody suite at Skegness is a regular reporter to the DSCC.

Whatever the day of the week, whatever the month of the year, whatever the time of day, the questions always arises Who is going to go to Skegness?”  The Lincoln office remains a laborious hour away. The staff at the Scunthorpe office claim that it would take them at least an hour and a half to get there. The Grimsby solicitors, perhaps geographically closest, swear blind that the roads are so bad that they cannot get there in under two hours. So then, the question perpetuates. Yet for 27 years, one way or another, in spite of its apparent unfeasibility, The Johnson Partnership have been looking after clients in Skegness, be they in the court or the police station, whatever the season and whatever the time.

Inevitably, our hearts go out to those members of staff who have completed their tasks in Skegness in the wee small hours. For them, there isn’t even the solace of a stick of last year’s rock or a soggy slab of cod.

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