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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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One of the requirements of my recent community order contains

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One of the requirements of my recent community order contains a requirement to attend a programme called 'Building Better Relationships'
However, when I look at the information about this course it clearly states that the ' Building Better Relationships is not suitable for men with severe mental problems.
I have Bi Polar Affective Disorder Type 2 and found information which states:-
- Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder or manic depression, is a serious mental illness. Source:
- Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a serious mental illness that causes extreme shifts in a person's mood. Source:
When I present this information to my probation officer, will she be able to decide if this 'Building Better Relationships' course can be removed from my community order or will I have to go back to the courts for removal of this course from my community order requirements ?
Kind regards
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What is the nature of your order?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Requirements of the community order are:-

1. Participate in Building Better Relationships programme for 31 days

2. Carry out unpaid work for 100 hours

3. Attend National Probation Service for appointments with probation officer.


You have answered 2 of my previous questions, one extremely lengthy interaction about my charge of harassment without violence and the other about my community payback conditions.

Best regards


I remember.
Are you asking if it can be varied?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The information about this course clearly states that the ' Building Better Relationships is not suitable for men with severe mental problems.

I have Bi Polar Affective Disorder Type 2 and found information which states that this is a serious mental illness, see previous email.

I am hoping that I don't have to do this course at all as it says I am not suitable as I have a serious mental illness. Can my probation officer simply remove it from my order or will I have to go back to court ?

To make a variation of the court ordered community order there will have to be a return to court.
Probation can recommend revocation and resentence on the basis that you are unsuitable rather than not compliant and I am surprised they have not done so already. To be wholly honest, I don't have the greatest respect for the probation service generally.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So I will have to return to court if I am not suitable for the course ?

What could be the alternative to this Building Better Relationships course ?

Nothing has happened yet as I don't have initial interview with my probation officer until 6th Jan

Well, it is all a waste of time and money if we are honest. Domestics should be in the family court where they belong if they need to be litigated upon at all.
I am sure probation will offer some nonsense course about how abused women can't be expected to take any responsibility for anything and never manipulate and pretend to be victims to get attention.
Quite frankly, I would rather go to prison than submit to any of it but I can understand that you would not.
Yes, you would have to return. It is not a criticism though. You are not failing to comply. You are just not suitable.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am only in this position because she lied several times in her witness statement:-

1. threatened her with knife previously

2. has threatened her previously

3. know people with guns who can hurt her

Total lies, however, I was guilty due to the amount of txt messages I sent her. However, none of the above allegations were challenged. If I return to court can I raise these issues as lies now as no proof of them or am I just stupid for pleading guilty and not having these allegations challenged at the time.

Is there anything I can do to get away from these allegations ?

I am so bad I have:-

1. taken her to Euro Disney this year so she could be there with the kids when I took them which cost £4.5K

2. Paid for her hotel to take kids away for couple of days

3. Lent her £200 when she was skint

If I am so bad and dangerous why do I have my kids every single weekend without fail while she has whole weekend to herself.

Jo, Thank you for being so understanding and realising I am not a bad person.



Yes, of course you are. There is not much genuine abuse in the UK. I have been involved in criminal law most of my working life and in that time I have only ever seen one genuine harassment and even he wasn't really dangerous. He was just annoying.
You were convicted because you were involved with a young lady who keeps the police on speed dial. We all have relationship struggles. We just don't all get the police involved in them.
On your specific points above
1 Because she is a manipulator who is perfectly happy to take your money
2 See above
3 See above.
The problem with this though is that you need to stop allowing her to manipulate you. If she doesn't want contact with you, which is the only inference you can draw from the fact she called the police, then that means she can't appeal to you when she is in trouble.
Women like her will have to learn to pay their own bills and bleed their own radiators. Their attitudes will change fast enough then and it will be entirely their own fault.
You will win out in the long run. You just need to learn to see a female abuser when there is one in front of you. The overwhelming majority of women in the UK get through their entire lives without ever even once making even one call to the police over a personal dispute.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Just so you understand a little about me.

I have worked all over the world (US, Russia, South Africa, All over Europe) for Shell International earning circa £80k per year. Was retired on partial ill-health grounds and recieve substantial pension, have also built up a substantial property portfolio. I am 46 years of age and retired....however, I'm bit bored now and looking for new job, have already turned down 3 which didn't meet my criteria.

Thought I'd tell you this so you know a little about me.



Good luck with it.
Don't tell her. She will be claiming compensation. Amazing how they all remember their partners in hoods chanting Satanic verses when they are in funds.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I know I pleaded guilty but is there anything I can do about the false allegations when I go back to court about the building better relationships, or as I am guessing 'what is done is done' ?

Not at this stage.
You pleaded guilty because you were technically caught by bad law.
You didn't do anything really particularly morally wrong and a reasonable woman would not have wasted the resources of the police on this.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Yet again you have been fantastic. Many many thanks and have a good evening tonight whatever you are doing.



No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Jo,

I will always use you for further enquiries and was delighted that again

you were the one who answered my question.

I have found out that the alternative to the 'BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS PROGRAMME' ' is a course called 'DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERPETRATOR PROGRAMME'

Could you kindly advice which of these 2 courses is the most incriminating as I don't want to move from one course to another one which is considered to be for more violent perpetrators.



I don't think they are likely to recommend the later. You have not been convicted of an offence of violence.
They used to call that nonsense the IDAP course. They are quite expensive to run and usually preserved for very serious offences of violence where there was a clear risk and it could be argued a need for intervention. Or you could share my view that if women choose to have relationships with men who put them in hospital that is their affair.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So the later of the 2 courses is more severe and for more serious offenders ?

I think I will just do the BBR course to be safe.

It is generally the more intense.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry Jo, I don't understand what you mean by more intense ?

Involves more work.
More intense supervision.
More general indoctrination.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,


I will not be able to attend the Building Better Relationships course if I don't agree to:-

1. sign the 'Statement of Understanding'


2. refuse to commit to the 'Conditions of Success'.

Out of principle I may not agree to the 2 points above.

Could you please advise what the possible consequences of not agreeing to the 2 points above ? Could I have to return to court and get a custodial sentence ?



Yes, there is a risk that could happen. It isn't all that likely that you would get custody but that could lead to revocation and resentence.
Most likely they would prefer an unpaid work order or a curfew.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

When I have to go back to court as I am:-

1. not suitable for the building better relationships (BBR) course due to mental illness


2. I refuse to do the course as I have not done any of the things that the BBR course states that BBR is suitable, these being:-

  1. Have been violent in a hetrosexual relationship

  2. Are able to discuss at least one act of violence against an intimate partner

  3. Are willing to sign a statement of understanding which will include the sharing of information with ex partner

  4. Have been assessed as a medium to high of risk relationship violence on the spousal assault risk assessment

With respect to point 4 above I have probably been assessed as medium to high risk due to total lies in the witness statement which included:-

1. threatened her with knife previously

2. has threatened her previously

3. know people with guns who can hurt her

During the court hearing related to me not wanting to carry out the BBR part of my community order , will there be a chance to explain reasons why I refuse to do the course, that being because I have not done any of the things that the BBR course is applicable as the course was probably only suggested due to false allegations in the witness statement.

I am trying to bring these false allegations to the magistrates attention, will there be a possibility of doing this ?

Yea, there is an opportunity to mitigate
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Would it be a very risky strategy to totally refuse to attend the course out of principle as I don't believe it is relevant to me ?

As I may go back to court to stop the attendance of the BBR programme due to a mental, does the medical letter have to be off a psychiatrist or could my GP write the letter to present to the court. All the letter will be saying is 'I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder type 2 and that this condition is classed as a serious illness.

Many thanks

Will the GP let you have that letter? They will not routinely do that

It is generally dangerous I'm afraid
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Why won't my GP be able to provide a letter indicating my diagnosis and why don't they routinely provide such letters ?



I wouldn't know about that. It is a GP issue.
In my experience they will do that if asked by a patient.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Just so I am clear. If I totally refuse to to do the building better relationships programme out of principle as I have only been put on this programme due to false allegations in the victims statement, do you think I will get a custodial sentance ?

Also, so I am clear, when I go back to court due to refusing to to do the building better relationships programme out of principle, will I be able to state the reasons why I am refusing to do the course...i.e. false allegations in the victims statement ?

Thank you so much for your help.



They will probably find an alternative but there is a risk.
You can always say that you will not comply with a community order.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

but can I state the reasons why i will not comply with the order, that being totally false allegations in the victims statement even though I pleaded guilty. I was guilty but not of the false allegations ?

You can.
The risk is that they will vacate your plea and order a Newton hearing. It depends whether the account you are advancing would make a material difference to sentence.
Probably they won't though. They will just sentence you on the Crown's facts.
But you do risk custody if you refuse to comply with a community order.