MAGISTRATES SET TO BE GIVEN GREATER POWERS TO SENTENCE CRIMINALS TO 12 MONTHS IN PRISON

Hm-cts-logoMagistrates are set to be given greater powers to allow them to sentence criminals to up to 12 months in prison under plans announced by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.

The move will increasingly allow the serious cases heard by magistrates – such as fraud, theft and assault – to be sentenced by them too. At present, any crimes warranting a jail term of more than 6 months must be sent to the Crown Court where judges determine the appropriate sentence.

It’s hoped the extended powers will free up around 2,000 extra Crown Court days every year.

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Retaining more cases in the Magistrates’ Courts, which have been less severely affected by COVID, means Crown Courts can focus their resources on tackling the backlog which has built up during the pandemic.

Locally, it also means that a wider range of cases will be reported on by Island Echo.

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, has said:

“This important measure will provide vital additional capacity to drive down the backlog of cases in the Crown Courts over the coming years.

“Together with the Nightingale Courts, digital hearings and unlimited sitting days, we will deliver swifter and more effective justice as we build back a stronger, safer and fairer society after the pandemic”.

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The number of outstanding cases has dropped by around 70,000 in the Magistrates’ Court since its peak in July 2020, while the caseload in Crown Court is starting to come down.

Bev Higgs, National Chair of the Magistrates’ Association, has welcomed the move:

“We have been campaigning for years for magistrates’ sentencing powers to be extended to 12 months for single offences, so we are delighted with the Lord Chancellor’s announcement today. It is absolutely the right time to re-align where cases are heard to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient justice system and this demonstrates great confidence in the magistracy.

“Magistrates have been integral in keeping the justice system functioning during the Covid-19 pandemic and, by enabling them to hear more serious offences, this new provision will mean they can contribute to easing the pressure on the Crown Courts.

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“I know our members and colleagues will take up this new level of responsibility with pride, professionalism, and integrity and will – as always – strive to deliver the highest quality of justice in their courts”.

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Hampshire and Isle of Local Criminal Justice Board, has said:

“It’s important that steps are taken to reduce the backlogs and these powers will help to get swifter justice for victims. My local criminal justice partners have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep cases moving through the courts as the COVID restrictions have meant a reduced number of cases can be heard in our courts.

“I was a magistrate for 16 years so know first-hand the valuable role they play in the justice system. Giving magistrates increased powers will mean many more serious cases such as fraud, theft and assault will be dealt with quicker. This will help to drive down backlogs, bringing offenders to justice quicker which will better support victims.”

The changes will come into force in the coming months via a commencement order. Proper training will need to be completed by magistrates before this change can come into effect, however.

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The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Dicky Daniels
Dicky Daniels
4 months ago

Even longer suspended sentences now then.

isle of wighter
isle of wighter
4 months ago

pointless if they never actually lock anyone up

Davimel
Davimel
4 months ago

If they cant be bothered to use the huge range of powers they have at the moment why on earth would they send someone down for up to 12 months?? If the new sentencing powers get through, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see that prisoners only have to serve half the sentence before being released on license as applies to current sentences over a certain length. It will be of no benefit to law abiding folk, just the same old same old!

Ian Johnson
Ian Johnson
4 months ago

Brilliant news; BUT, we need people who will punish people to the full extent that the law allows, and not dish out wrist slaps, and listen to sob stories.

Bojosays?
Bojosays?
4 months ago

Now all we need is judges that will actually dish out a punishment that the crime warrants, rather than a slap on the wrist

Dr.jollop
Dr.jollop
Reply to  Bojosays?
4 months ago

The above comments are made up by jumped up little people with jumped up little brains, who know nothing of the justice system. All they are, are mindless little sheep. If you feel so strongly, stand outside the courts and stop being cowards and grow a pair.

Bojosays?
Bojosays?
Reply to  Dr.jollop
4 months ago

I’m not quite sure how your comments get approved?

Dr.jollop
Dr.jollop
Reply to  Bojosays?
4 months ago

Well done IE.
It is called freedom of speech.
How dare I disergee with most of you. I happen to think that the island majerstrates do a reasonable job under very difficult circumstances.

Nelson
Nelson
Reply to  Bojosays?
4 months ago

I’m not quite sure what Dr.jollop’s comments actually mean!

Dr.jollop
Dr.jollop
Reply to  Bojosays?
4 months ago

Yes, let’s stop slapping people on the wrist and listening to their pathetic little life story’s. Send them all down. Every last one of them and a minimum of 10 years at least.
Why should we all pay our TV licences when the scum of the earth don’t !

 

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