Retro; A Bit Personal, So May Be Out Of Order...

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Atheist | 19:46 Mon 15th Jun 2020 | Law
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Did you ever appear in court, as a police officer, to give evidence in a murder trial? I'm working on a novel and am writing a trial scene. I'd be interested in first hand insight to procedure.


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Sorry No. I never got the chance to give evidence at Crown Court specifically for murder. I have arrested One person for murder and one for attempted murder of a colleague. It was in the days before the Criminal Protection Service and we,in the Met, prosecuted our own cases and prepared a 'Soup Report' which asked the Met's own legal pool of solicitors and Barristers to assist in the prosecution of serious cases. In both cases I was involved with the Police Barrister obtained guilty pleas and I was not required to give my evidence.
The Barrister was permitted to read the brief facts to the bench from my Section 1 Statement and possibly a statement of the accused under caution.
Question Author
Retro; 'Criminal Protection Service' I presume that means CPS i.e Crown Prosecution Service? Is it the case nowadays that the police report to the CPS and the CPS decide whether or not to prosecute? If there is a prosecution which goes to trial, I presume that the Senior Investigating Officer would testify in court; not the Initial Response Officer, nor the Interview Officer? Forgive my ignorance, but I am trying to learn what goes on.
My nephew left the Met a couple of years ago and I can answer that the CPS will only prosecute cases where there is a "realistic chance of conviction" used to drive him mad meeting the realistic chance criteria.
Have you seen this?
Question Author
I worked for a local planning authority and of course they had two ex-coppers in the Appeals and Enforcement section. One was a suspicious b of the old school who naturally regarded everybody as villains (well, you do, when most of your contacts are dubious characters) and the other who was an ex mounted bobby, who loved his horse and who retained a certain hope for the underlying decency of people. I thought that they both had understandable attitudes.
Question Author
Thanks, Woof; I'll read it soon.
This bit I don't know for a fact but surely for the avoidance of hearsay or third hand reporting, the decision on who gives evidence would depend on what the evidence is and who heard/saw/experienced it? No point having the senior bloke there if is was the beat officer who saw the attack.
I used to work with older people and their families on the NHS. I would say that I used to go into situations with a mix of those attitudes
Would New Judge be able to help maybe?
Every 'action' in a case has to be testified to by the person carrying out that action.
From finding a fag end in the gutter to putting the cuffs on to getting the 'cough' in interview.
Nowadays often the minor actions can be written about in a statement which is accepted by the defence but anything that the defence wishes to question, the officer responsible for that action has to attend.
so what i said then
Yes woof.
//Would New Judge be able to help maybe?//

Yes I can because I have seen witnesses give their evidence in both the Crown Court and the Magistrates’ Court. But I would suggest the best way to see what the process is would be to visit a Crown Court. A description in words cannot really portray the event very well. That said, beware! Since you are writing fiction you should realise that there is a big difference between what goes on in court and what you see on the telly or read in a book. Anyway, the basic process:

The witness is called in to court (he must not have observed any of the trial before he gives his evidence) and is “sworn in”. This involves either taking an oath on a religious book of his choice or making a non-religious affirmation to tell the truth. Whatever he chooses, the effect is the same – he undertakes to tell the truth and can face a charge of perjury if he does not.

He is then asked by the prosecutor (assuming he is a prosecution witness) questions about the events he witnessed. These will be based around the statement(s) he provided to the police. He may be asked to go into some detail if the prosecutor wants the court to be sure the court learns about a particular point. This is called his “evidence-in-chief.” After that is finished he will be “cross-examined” by the defence advocate. This process is designed to test the strength of his evidence and may involve putting alternative versions of events to him. This can become quite demanding on the witness and, as far as drama is concerned, is probably the most dramatic aspect of the trial. When that is done he can face “re-examination” by the prosecutor if he wants to clarify any points that may have arisen from cross-examination. At any time the judge may intervene to ask questions himself or to ensure the rules of evidence are being followed. When all that is done he is “released”. The judge may warn him that he may be recalled (depending on the progress of the trial afterwards) but will certainly warn him that he must not discuss his evidence with anybody else, in particular witnesses who are still to come.
Question Author
Thank you, NJ. I have done jury service, so I am aware of some of the atmosphere and proceedings and I took away the impression that the whole business was very much aimed at the jury as audience. I found it quite impressive. I saw police witness and Prosecuting counsel 'acting' out the accused's police interview; Police officer taking the part of himself and Prosecuting counsel acting the part of the accused; fascinaqting stuff, and all aimed at impressing the jury. I'm grateful to you all for your input. I may return with questions if you don't mind.
Mind and not say the Judge used a gavel. No gravels are used in Scots, Welsh or English courts other than in the Inner London Crown Court. No idea about Ulster courts.
I had two really interesting cases when I did jury service. In one case, the defence counsel asked a girl:
"...and by this time, what would you say was your level of inebriation?", to which she said: "yer wot?" I couldn't help giving off a slight chuckle, which brought a look full of daggers from His Honour!
Shoota will bear me out I reckon.
Towards the end of a Met officers Training Course at Hendon they would have to attend part of their final practical exam. This would consist of instructors playing the stooges. In my case it was a case of the Criminal Damage Act which had not long superceded the Malicious/Wilful Damage Act of 1839. It was minor damage and not normaly worthy of arrest but advice given to the complainant as to his civil remedy and ensuring names and addresses were exchanged. A pocket book report would be made .... this was the final exam it should end up in a magistrate court after a arrest was made. As, in my case ,I gave the appropriate advise to the complainant with regard to his civil remedy but the antagonist started kicking hell out of his car again. This then became a 'refused to desist'situation whereby arrest was sanctioned.
Each stage was judged by an examiner to see how the officer reacted to changing circumstances.
I made the arrest,made my brief arrest notes and we attended the mock police station where I gave my evidence of arrest in front of the accused to the Station Sergeant. It was my evidence and the Police Sergeant who made the decision that the accused was worthy of being charged and attending court to face the court. There was no CPS to present the evidence to and let them decide the viability of a conviction . Thank God. If the skipper said "yes lets give it a swing" the case invariably went to court and a conviction was achieved.
Now days the CPS employ 'has been' advocates who would rather let criminals walk than try the case.
Back to training School.
Having satisfied the skipper your evidence was appropriate and justified the charge of causing criminal damage and refusing to desist we then presented our evidence in a mock court at the Training school complex.
In those days the street scenes,police station and court were worthy of a film set from 'The Bill' only at Hendon instead of Merton.
I have attended court a few times since my retirement and cringed at the very shaky, nervous and unprofessional demeanour of young officers who stand terrified in 'the box'with little experience thanks to the advent of the CPS. :-(
10 CS
I got the same glower from a bewigged humourless judge when a Irishmen, giving witness evidence for the prosecution, was asked by a defence barrister if his eyesight was good and how far could he actually see the event from where he was standing. He replied, 'Oh to be sure. Me eyesight is fine. I can see as far as the moon on a bright night'.
The snide, arrogant defence brief did not enjoy my respect and in trying to supress a snigger I let out a large snort by accident. ( well we were addressed as 'pigs'). The judge did not find the answer humerous either and Paddy and I both received a rough time in' the box'
// .it used to drive him mad meeting the realistic chance criteria.//

I supported a defendant who acquitted in eight minutes,
and asked the hopelessly inadequate Alison Saunders why there was so much money obviously wasted
and she basically said - "oh no no - or oh yes yes
it is meant to work like that !"

realistic chance my bottom
erm not surprisinglyu if someone in the public gallery assists credibility of a witness by yelling
what a load of old boolz#
then the judge will clear the court
Question Author
PP, I think I respect your views, but sometimes you make it difficult. Could you please clarify in English (which I know you speak.)

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Retro; A Bit Personal, So May Be Out Of Order...

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