Any politician of any party who claims that the answer to tackling violence against women is simply a matter of “tougher sentences” is not being honest with the public.

Let me tell you about a case I’m currently prosecuting. [THREAD]
The case involves allegations of serious domestic violence and coercive/controlling behaviour. The offences go back to 2016. They were reported in 2017. This is not unusual in cases of domestic abuse - often victims delay reporting out of fear.
It then took eighteen months for the police to investigate.

Eighteen months.

Why? Partly because this case, like many of its type, relied on mobile phone evidence. Texts to show the defendant’s behaviour, or to prove contemporaneous complaint by the complainant to her friends.
And currently, due to police cuts and the government’s refusal to fund Digital Investigation Units, there is backlog of at least 12 months to examine digital devices in most areas of the country.
Part of the delay in investigating was because the police had to obtain other evidence - medical records, further witness statements - which involved liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service for advice. CPS has also been defunded and is understaffed. So further delay.
Once a charging decision was finally made, the case took six months to come to court.

Not for trial. Just for the first hearing before the magistrates.

Why? Because the government defunded the police and the courts. This type of delay is now standard.
The case was then sent to the Crown Court, as the defendant denied the charges.

And it joined the queue for a trial slot. Which, even pre-Covid, was at least a year.


Because the government defunded the courts. It deliberately increased the backlog.…
Its first trial slot was adjourned for “lack of court time” - ie there was a courtroom, and there was a judge, but the court was forbidden by the government’s artificial restrictions on “court sitting days” to actually hold a trial.

Yes. Really.

So the trial went off.
Then Covid hit. And the government still refused to resource criminal justice. It took months and months and months before they opened even a single Covid-safe “Nightingale Court”.

The trial was adjourned again, to Summer 2021.

There is still no guarantee it will go ahead.
During this time, the defendant has been on bail. If he is the violent, manipulative man that the prosecution believe, that is four years he has had to exert pressure on the complainant not to cooperate. Four years to start new relationships. To repeat the same behaviours.
Meanwhile, the complainant has been trying to move on. I am waiting for the grimly familiar memo from the police advising me that she has withdrawn her support for the prosecution as she can’t take the process any longer.

Nobody could blame her.
If by some miracle the trial goes ahead, her evidence will inevitably be affected by the passage of time. Truthful mistakes about small things might be misinterpreted as significant lies. Honest best efforts might not be enough to persuade a jury.
Then the kicker. Defendants who are convicted and sentenced can expect to receive a lesser sentence than they otherwise would.


Because state-caused delay is a mitigating factor that courts can take into account (see this thread).
There is nothing unusual about this case. Every criminal practitioner will have many like it. The compounded delay and denial of justice is not restricted to cases of domestic abuse, but they are among the worst affected.

And as we know, the consequences can be terrible.
This shambles of a system - it does not deserve the label “justice” - is what politicians should be apologising for, and promising to fix.

Fund police, prosecutors, refuges, courts, probation - do something about investigation, detection, prosecution and prevention.
There has never been a better time to be a criminal than under @BorisJohnson’s government.

There has never been a better time to be violent towards women and get away with it.

And by claiming it is fixed by “tough sentences” they take you for fools.

I started writing Stories of The Law and How It’s Broken in 2016.

It was published in 2018.

The public crowdfunded a copy for every single MP, including most of the current cabinet.

In 2021, things are now even worse.

That is solely on our politicians.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with The Secret Barrister

The Secret Barrister Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @BarristerSecret

Dec 17, 2022

This lecture explores the Christmas(ish) classic Paddington 2 through the lens of English & Welsh law.

Contributions are welcome, but I'm perfectly prepared to tweet the entire film to a wall of embarrassed silence.

This paper considers, inter alia, how the journey of one Peruvian bear through the criminal justice system might have been different had he and his associates all been subject to the law of England and Wales.
Some basic rules so we’re all singing from the same (Dario Marianelli) song sheet:

First and foremost, Paddington Bear is, for our purposes, subject to the jurisdiction of the criminal law. No presumption of Ursa Incapax here. If he does the crime, he’s doing the time.
Read 58 tweets
Dec 14, 2022
It is both an insult and a mark of cowardice when defendants refuse to attend court for their sentence.

But what is actually being suggested here?

I can only see only two options.

And Labour’s policy is unclear. 🧵
Labour excitedly told The Sun that they would “force offenders to literally face justice”. Does this mean *literally* dragging unwilling defendants into the dock? Aside from the safety issues, what if the defendant decides to disrupt proceedings?… ImageImage
If the Defendant, dragged into court against his will, decides to start shouting from the dock - abusing the judge, or even the victim’s family in the public gallery - what then? Binding and gagging?

This cannot be what is intended.

So what is?

Read 6 tweets
Dec 14, 2022
Councillor Barrett claimed that a barrister wearing a t-shirt with a (non-sexual) slogan exemplified a “cultural problem at the criminal bar”.

When asked to explain, he posted an unrelated report of sexual abuse and accused me of endorsing “a culture of sexual objectification.”
I wouldn’t normally engage with this sort of silliness, but Councillor Barrett - he of the reliably inaccurate pro-government “legal analyses” in The Spectator - is making false claims capable of seriously damaging reputations, which cannot be ignored.
For the record, I have repeatedly called out and criticised the record of the Bar (not just the Criminal Bar) in its attitudes towards sexual misconduct, and in particular the soft disciplinary regime (see @CrimeGirI’s excellent campaign).

I’ll take no lectures from Mr Barrett.
Read 4 tweets
Dec 4, 2022
Quite right.

As Andrew’s employer has shown, the correct mode of address for judges is “Enemy of The People”. Image
In the meantime, this “PC Wokery” sounds like a dangerous cad. I hope his sergeant yanks him into line before he infects anybody else. Image
(Explainer for anybody curious about thicko @toryboypierce’s moronising: judges in certain lower courts are now to be addressed as “judge”, on the woke basis that they are, well, judges. In Crown Courts, they will still be Your Honour. In High Court and above, still My Lord/Lady) Image
Read 6 tweets
Nov 22, 2022
Ooh, shall we talk “irresponsible”, @DominicRaab?

Because I wonder if our definitions differ.

Irresponsible, to me, is supporting the chronic defunding of criminal justice during your entire spell as a Parliamentarian.

And of course, there’s more. 🧵… Image
Irresponsible is cutting 21,000 police officers and a quarter of Crown Prosecutors. Meaning it often takes around two years - at least - simply for a suspect to be charged.

Meaning that potentially dangerous people are free to roam the streets.

Irresponsible is selling off nearly half the court estate, meaning that people have to travel for hours to their local court (and so many simply don’t). It means witnesses and victims are deterred from the outset.

Read 12 tweets
Oct 26, 2022
Dominic Raab:

The Greatest Hits 💽💽💽

In his most recent spell as Justice Secretary, @DominicRaab achieved the following: 🧵
1. Dominic Raab created a record backlog in the Crown Courts by continuing his predecessors’ chronic underfunding of the criminal justice system.

His “plan” to reduce the backlog was ridiculed by fellow MPs as “meagre”, as it would still leave people waiting years for a trial.
2. Dominic Raab ignored his own government’s independent report into criminal legal aid, refusing to implement the urgent funding that the report said was needed “as soon as possible” to prevent the system collapsing.…
Read 10 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!