Friday 1 April 2011

Out-of-Court Disposals

I have received from my own MP a copy of a letter from Crispin Blunt MP, an Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice.  Mr Blunt explains that he is the Minister responsible for policy on 'Out-of-Court Disposals' which includes simple cautions.  Mr Blunt is anxious to point out that the Home Office Guidance 016/2008 does not stipulate cautions in any particular case, rather the use of cautions is 'an operational decision to be taken by the police'.
Judging by rather better action taken by Greater Manchester Police recently, Mr Blunt may be right that the Home Office Guidance did not quite force the Thames Valley Police to issue a simple caution, in the way they have contended, to the man who pushed me from my bike last December.
Mr Blunt goes on to say that although the Government is satisfied that the circular does not stipulate the use of cautions in any particular case, the Government is considering its approach to out-of -court disposals such as simple cautions as part of a full assessment of sentencing policy.  A Ministry of Justice consultation has been taking place (it closed on 4th March, Mr Blunt's letter is dated 9th March).  There is a section on
'A simpler framework for out-of-court disposals' which appears to me to be proposing a greater discretion to police.  Had I been in time to respond, I would have urged that there should be a strong presumption against the use of a caution in crimes of violence against vulnerable road users.
On a more positive note, I have received the name and address of my assailant from Thames Valley Police and will probbaly take the trouble to sue him.  If he is not to be hauled before a criminal court, I can at least haul him before a civil one.  I appreciate that the recovery of damages may be an uncertain and uphill struggle but I would like him to face some consequences for his actions.


  1. As a member of the Public who has rarely encountered the Police and has never had any direct contact with the legal system, it seems that the legal system is both amazingly confusing and impressively ineffective.

  2. If you sue him what exactly can you sue for in civil circumstances? It sounds sad to say it but I used to watch Judge Judy, and the amount of things the Americans will sue for is shocking. Medical treatment, distress, lost earnings and damages all weigh up in my mind as worthy subjects however.

    I wish you luck in your endevours and hope that the guy is held to account and made to think about his actions.

  3. You've finally convinced me to stop lurking and make my first ever post.

    Very good writing, interesting in this case to see how diificult it has been for a lawyer to get any kind of action or redress. Please continue and keep us informed.

  4. Thank you so much for keeping going with this. Both individuals and the legal system need to change their attitudes about the violence and threatening behaviour that occurs on our roads daily.

  5. Dave M, Edinburgh7 April 2011 at 14:43

    Martin - not a habitual commenter on blogs but (like many I suspect) following this with great interest.

    Keep up your efforts - getting people to take road violence seriously is a worthy goal.

  6. I have been a victim of physical and verbal abuse many times on my commute to work. I have stopped reporting it now as the police and employers show no interest even if presented with video footage.

    I hope that you succeed with this angry driver. At the very least it might make him think twice before doing a similar thing again.

  7. I WOULD LOVE TO learn more about how to sue bad drivers when they threaten my life... plz keep up the good work!