louise caseyIt seems that the authoritarianism authored by the czars and czarinas of 1997 – 2010 is having its last hurrah in the form of Louise Casey. In the lifetime of Blair Gordon inc she has risen from relative obscurity as a Home Office employee via being appointed co-ordinator for the Respect Task Force, by way of appointment as The Director of the Home Office's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit to Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses.

She was I believe the last high profile appointment of Blair Gordon by way of his power as Secretary for Justice Jack {no burkahs} Straw. As a prime propagandist and power behind ASBOs it is ironic that this woman has recently published her latest opinions on aspects of the Criminal Justice System when Home Secretary Theresa May has signed the death notice for Mrs Casey`s favourite project. The good lady will still be able to pay her mortgage. Her new contract at around £100,000 p/a ensures there will be no wolves at the Casey door. Whether her contract for one year only will be renewed by Mrs May after her latest foray will be a matter of interest to those who believe that her impact on the scales of justice would be to introduce an imbalance that would impact negatively on this country`s treatment of defendants who historically are innocent until proved guilty. I have blogged many times on the multiplicity of orders for this and orders for that and their futility. As a J.P. blogger I have never until now commented on “victims” and there are good reasons for that.

There are in a criminal court defendants and witnesses to the alleged offence[s]. The prime prosecution witness is often referred to as “the complainant” and that is as it should be. However there is an increasing trend to refer to that complainant as the “victim” a word that has moved in meaning from the subject of a sacrificial rite or recipient of suffering caused by an extraneous source to a person from whom eg is stolen a mobile phone.

In her new role Mrs Casey has published or had published 20/07/2010
victims-in-justice-system”. "Victims are the poor relation of the criminal justice system". In her summary she writes, “it is simply wrong to say that ‘victims are at the heart of the justice system’. They are not.” My overriding impression of this document is that despite her denials and prevarications its author is arguing that the so called victim be at the apex of our system of justice and in pursuit of this aim she seeks to enhance the authoritarianism that has propelled her career in direct opposition to the underlying ethos that her mistress Mrs May is robustly putting into practice. In particular she questions one of the basic tenets of English law; that a defendant is innocent until proved guilty and that acquittal after trial of a defendant means that individual is as innocent as if s/he had never been to court.

A flavour of her missive is this:-

After a trial
Being a victim in an unbalanced system does not end on conviction or after an acquittal; the wheels of justice continue to turn and again victims are often an afterthought. There are around 2,000 appeals per year against sentence, of which 75% are successful and around 500 appeals against conviction, of which 43% are successfuliii. Yet there is no requirement for even the prosecution, let alone victims or their families, to be informed about an application for leave to appeal. I have met victims’ families who read about an offender’s appeal in a newspaper.
Where a defendant is acquitted following a trial, there remains a victim or a bereaved family who should be able, at the very least, to discuss with the CPS lawyers and the police why, in their view, the acquittal may have occurred and what if any legal or investigative avenues remain available.

Mrs Casey perhaps does not want to consider that perhaps sometimes defendants are innocent of the charges brought against them.

The Caseys of this world should be back in the cupboard where they can gather dust. There are too many such individuals on the round about of the public appointments system. Or perhaps she has her sights set higher?.....Mayor of London perhaps as reported in the London Evening Standard.

Fresh impetus is required but whilst their masters and mistresses choose such people by looking in the mirror they will dance to their master`s tune. I hope that by this time next year Mrs Casey will be an ex-commissioner.