Another very interesting notification from Crimeline. The long established idea of an Englishman`s home being his castle is being threatened by ever more official and quasi official bodies seeking to thwart the ancient right....warrants of entry by utilities companies being an example. The situation as described below gives food for thought.
Carson was subject to pre-charge bail conditions, one of which was not to reside at her home address. The police investigation was in relation to racially aggravated harassment, the complainants being her neighbours.
Carson applied to the magistrates’ court to have the bail restriction removed, but that application was refused. Carson applied to judicially review that decision.
Held: I quite understand how the magistrates came to the view that if the claimant remained at the property there was a risk of further offending: although I have not seen - and indeed they will not have seen - the statements of the [complainants], the summary of the nature of the allegations has all the hallmarks of a classic neighbour dispute and if the complainants' evidence is indeed well founded, there must be a real risk of further offending as long as the two families remain neighbours, regrettable though that is.
Nevertheless it is my firm view that the condition that the claimant cease to reside at [her home address], was disproportionate. I would make the following points.
First, the claimant has not of course been convicted of any offence: she has not even been charged. Because she has not been charged, she has not even seen the evidence against her. That is of course not in itself a reason for not imposing conditions of bail but it is important background.
Secondly, the alleged offences, so far as I understand it consist only of racial abuse and cognate conduct. When I say "only", I do not mean in any way to mitigate the seriousness of offences of that character, particularly if persisted in over a long period. But there is as I understand it no allegation of violence or criminal damage or matters of that nature. I repeat that I do not suggest that the conduct alleged may not be serious but there are inevitably degrees of seriousness and where there is no risk to life or limb, that must also be taken into account in considering the proportionality of the bail condition imposed.
Thirdly, because the claimant has not been charged, the bail conditions will, unless a contrary order is made, remain in place for at least several months. [CPS counsel] has told me that the CPS does not anticipate being in a position to make a decision whether to charge the claimant for between six to eight weeks. If she is indeed charged, it must be a matter of many weeks before the matter can come before the magistrates for trial. I do not know, and - unsurprisingly - nobody is able to tell me what the state of the list is in Ealing Magistrates Court, but if it is like most London magistrates courts, accommodating a trial which might last certainly more than one day, which is characteristic of disputes of this kind, will not come on quickly.
Fourthly, it is a very serious matter to exclude a person from their own home. That would be so even if we were at the stage of sentence and considering some form of restraining order - though of course that is not the stage we are at. I have seen such orders made, and they may well be appropriate in cases of serious and/or repeat offending (and the same result can be sometimes obtained by civil injunctions). But such orders are not lightly to be made. And there are in this case reinforcing features. The effect of the condition is that the claimant will be in practice homeless. Her friend cannot be expected to go on accommodating her for many more weeks. Indeed, I am told on several nights the claimant does not feel able even now to sleep at the home of the friend in question and is in practice sofa surfing with other friends. And there is the problem about caring for her father.
For all those reasons, it seems to me, I repeat, quite disproportionate for the bail condition in question to be maintained.