By PRAVIN BOWRY
I was privileged last month to witness the momentous feat when Kenya won its first Olympic gold medal in the 3000 meters — steeplechase and also see the 9.43 second run of Usain Bolt in the 100 meters finals.
Thank God, though, that I was not dragged to the “Olympic Courts” for my misdemeanours during my three-week sojourn in England!
Olympic Courts? Well, Yes!
During the 2012 Olympics in London (and even in the ongoing Paralympics) various offences were branded as “Olympic Offences” triable by special and ad hoc “Olympic Courts”
Measures were put in place to fast-track the trials of people accused of offences linked to the Olympics, structured on the way offenders were processed after last years riots in London.
Following the riots, hundreds of offenders were processed through the courts within days rather than the usual weeks, and some courts worked through the night.
Crown Prosecution Service, the police and the prison services co-operated with the Magistracy and enabled courts to sit for extended hours, from 8am to 1.30pm and from 2.30pm to 7.30pm, with some courts also sitting on Saturdays and Sundays.
According to the Minister of Justice fast-track courts dealt with more than 84 “Olympic Crimes” during the course of the 2012 Games.
Some cases involved illegal ticket touting. Others related to the use of false documents for identification, theft, burglary and public order offences. Now 36 cases have already been dealt with by the magistrates and 28 have been sent or committed to the main stream Crown Court.
Swifter delivery of justice in England had become one of the Ministry of Justice’s priorities, building on lessons learned from last summer’s riots. A number of courts worked over the weekends and evenings.
Remote video technology was also exploited so that those held on remand in prison did not have to be brought into court for every hearing.