SEPTEMBER MEETING REPORT
At the W.I. we have a number of events in the offing and also ideas for things we may do in the future. On September 19th we are having a cream tea and a treasure hunt around the village. Then on October 3rd we are meeting for a fish and chip lunch at the Hut on Felixstowe sea front. On October 21st several of us are going by coach to Darsham for an ‘Evening With Carol Bundock’. This is a Suffolk East Federation event. On October 26th we will be manning a table at the Arts and Crafts Day in the Church Hall and selling various eatables. Other possible activities in the pipeline include a trip by bus to explore Hadleigh, a guided walk around Ipswich and a pre-Christmas outing, possibly to a Christmas market.
Our speaker at the September meeting was Mrs Angela Pratt who has recently retired from her position as a local magistrate: she called her talk ‘Being a J.P.’. At the start she explained that the first Justices of the Peace Act dates from 1361 in the reign of Edward III and gave magistrates the power to restrain offenders, to chastise and imprison. It also allowed them to act at their own discretion. This is no longer the case – actions are now hedged round by many rules and regulations. However candidates are still recruited from the general public. Anyone of good character can become a magistrate, no qualifications are required, but once accepted training is given. In court there is always a legal clerk on hand to explain the finer points of the law. Magistrates sit in threes so that there is no danger of a stalemate. She once sat with just one other justice and they could not agree so the case had to be reheard. The accused either pleads guilty or not guilty: if they plead guilty they are sentenced straight away, if not guilty the police have to gather evidence. Only the more serious cases are sent on to the Crown Court.
She feels that the most difficult task that they tackle is separating children from their parents. This is never done lightly and only in such cases as when drugs are involved. Drugs, both legal and illegal, are everywhere in the local area she told us and they inevitably lead to crime. We heard some eye-opening stories, such as the one about the young man who, as a punishment for having talked, had his tongue cut out and was left to bleed to death in an Ipswich churchyard. On a lighter note, when two men were up for hare-coursing their excuse was that they had just happened to he driving through the countryside at six o’clock in the morning and one just happened to feel ill. They stopped to allow him to be sick and then their two lurcher dogs just happened to escape from the car and there just happened to be a hare in a nearby field…
V E Bines