As I’ve stated here countless times everything I’ve learned about British society (compared to America) has been from British TV shows (Python, Young Ones, Inbetweeners etc.) As a fan of most of the US versions of* L&O* my TiVo recorded an episode of* Law & Order:UK* off BBC America as a suggestion (I had no idea a Brit version of the show even existed!) Really neat how they’ve perfectly applied the format & style of the show to a British setting.
After watching a dozen or so episodes I have a few simple questions:
[li]I know that Uniformed British police don’t carry guns, but are the detectives also unarmed? (forgive a gun-loving Yank for having difficulty wrapping my head around this :D)[/li][li]In British courts it seems that the defendants are always in a separate ‘cage’ thing with its own stairway up from below? Does this only apply to violent offenders, or those that can’t make bail? Because in America it’s very rare, even with murderers, for a defendant to be restrained in court. We do always have several armed bailiffs ready to pounce on them but only occasionally (when they’re known trouble-makers) will they remain shackled. Even then they still always sit right at the desk with their lawyer.[/li][li]Are Crown Prosecutors & Defense barristers generally given more leeway in terms of badgering witnesses? They seem to do this on the show much more often & easily then their American counterparts can.[/li][li]Do witnesses have to always remain standing while testifying? If so, why? In America they’re *always *seated.[/li][li]Before testifying are witnesses ‘sworn in’ on a bible (or some equivalent) to officiate lying as perjury? I’ve yet to see that on this show (though they often skip showing this on the US versions too).[/li][li]Is there no equivalent to The Fifth Amendment in Britain? Is the Crown Prosecutor *always *allowed to directly question the defendant in open court no matter what? Cause in America *not *getting to do this is a **very **big deal.[/li][li]In an episode where there was a deadlocked jury a court officer specifically asked if there was a majority of at least 10 jurors. I assume it still has to be unanimous, but are they allowed to ask this so that, if true, the judge can decide whether to *order *them to deliberate further? Again in the US I’ve never heard of this (but it may just be an esoteric rule that varies state to state).[/li][/list]
Any & all responses welcome (though an actual British lawyer would be nice!)