‘Standing’ ovation for Hertfordshire court cop

PUBLISHED: 16:28 09 September 2011

Crown Court Policeman Dereck Cross

Crown Court Policeman Dereck Cross

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CROWN court policeman Dereck Cross ended his 30-year constabulary career on a high when he was allowed to say “All rise!”.

St Albans Crown Court

AN invite to see the law in action is being offered tomorrow (Saturday) by St Albans Crown Court.

The aim of the open day is to show how justice operates in the county and to take the mystery out of the legal process.

Visitors will be able to sit on juries, discuss sentences, meet police and prison dogs and visit the cells.

There will be mock hearings, including the trial of an armed bank robber and the sentencing of a drug dealer involved in a nightclub shooting.

Judge Michael Baker QC, the police and probation trust will explain the Choices and Consequences Programme, which involves rehabilitating persistent criminals.

Other highlights include a knife crime presentation, exhibitions of police riot gear, and demonstrations of fingerprinting and electronic tagging, while barrister Will Noble will answer the question: “How do you defend a person you believe to be guilty?”

The day is being attended by justice minister Lord McNally and will be opened by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Lord Charles Cecil.

The resident judge Andrew Bright QC and Lord McNally will answer questions on how the judiciary are appointed and on trial and sentencing processes.

Judge Bright said: “The purpose of the event is to allow you to see at first hand how the justice system operates, to demystify the work of the courts and to invite you to take part in the day’s events.

“I hope that this will give visitors a much clearer insight into the administration of justice and that you will also have an enjoyable day out.”

The open day at the court, in Bricket Road, runs from 10am to 3pm.

The police liaison officer who, for the past 11 years, has been based at St Albans Crown Court, had always wanted to utter the words.

And last Wednesday, on his last day as a police officer, the Hatfield man got his wish at the start of proceedings.

To mark his leaving, a special ceremony was held in court for the popular Pc.

Office staff, barristers, clerks, ushers and shorthand writers all packed into court to say farewell to 56-year-old Dereck.

Then, as five judges and a recorder came into court for the ceremony, Dereck was allowed to say “All rise!” – words normally said by the court usher – and those assembled got to their feet.

Father-of-two Dereck, who lives with wife Debbie in Hatfield, said: “I’ve always had the urge to say ‘All rise’.

“I’ve seen it done thousands of times in court.

“When you hear that knock on the court door that means the judge is about to enter court, you know that everyone will have to rise when the words are said.

“I had always wanted to say the words and it was great way to mark the end of my career.”

Praising Dereck, Judge Andrew Bright QC said he was leaving with the warm thanks of all the judges.

Judge Bright said that since his appointment as a police liaison officer in May 2000, Pc Cross had become a “trouble shooter, an intelligence officer and crowd controller”.

He said the public galleries could often be places where emotions ran high and outbreaks of serious trouble were always a distinct possibility.

But he said Dereck “would always have it covered” and over the years judges had been grateful for his presence at the back of the courtroom when feelings were running high.

Judge Bright added the officer’s customary pose of standing with his arms folded and wearing a look that said “if you are thinking of kicking off, don’t or you will have me to deal with”, was enough to nip any trouble in the bud.

Dereck, who started his career in St Albans, also served in Harpenden and Welwyn Hatfield.

He has two grown-up sons and recently became a grandfather for the first time.

He enjoys amateur dramatics as well as golf and DIY and raises money for mental health charities.

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